When I initially tried Google Plus, it seemed a little too complicated. I couldn't just add someone, I had to actually think about the relationship I had with that person, and put them in the corresponding circle. It seemed like a little too much work, and only a few of my friends were there anyway. I chalked it up to being another Wave type product and moved on.
Having gone back to Facebook, I eventually realized that the circle system might be necessary. I don't always want to tell everyone I know everything. Facebook status updates are similar to going into a huge room where everyone is talking through a bullhorn. Lots of noise everywhere. People hear things they really shouldn't and don't want to.
Circles are perfect for filtering these types of things. For instance, let's say I have 6 friends that are into science fiction books, such as myself. I just create a Sci-fi circle, add those friends to it, and I can now discuss books I've read with those friends only, without feeling like I've got to dumb my posts down for consumption by the general population. I can do the same thing with people I work with for work combos, make a sports circle for those friends I like to talk sports with, etc. The circles can give you a much richer, more focused experience.
So I'm giving Google Plus another shot now. Since their Google-wide redesign and unification, I'm beginning to see how powerful Google Plus has the potential to become. Facebook does messaging, photos, groups, pages, videos, etc. But does Facebook do a good job with each of these subdivisions? I think they are each pretty half-asses efforts. Facebook messaging is a sorry excuse for email, the photos albums seem disorganized and limited in functionality, and if you want to post something more than just a casual status update, where do you do that? Obviously, the true power of Facebook is the fact that all of these half-ass apps are connected so well socially.
Google has a fantastic catalog of products in their arsenal, and I stay within the Google ecosystem whenever I can. Search, Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, Docs, Picasa - all free tools that are usually at or near the best in their respective classes. If only all of these products could join forces and connect with eacother socially in seamless fashion.
Apparently that has been Google's social plan without Google Plus. Gmail makes it easy for Google to kickstart a social network - a ton of subscribers with friends lists already populated. Google's recent product unification makes it clear they are focused on finally bringing it all together. Facebook should be very worried.
If I'm going to message somebody, I'd much rather do it via Gmail. - the Facebook messaging app is garbage. The Facebook photo galleries are OK, but don't suffice as stand alone photo galleries. Google's Picasa web albums are far superior. As complicated as the internet is now, I only want to do each thing once, in the same place if possible. Currently I keep a separate web album, then upload again to Facebook for sharing.
Trying Google Plus again this week, I've become very excited about how powerful the suite of Google products will be when joined together socially. Looking at Facebook now - it looks like a messy, loud, confusing conglomeration of mediocrity. I'm moving out.