A short while ago, I wrote an article titled “Why Photographers Should Love Twitter” detailing the reasons why I love Twitter for interacting with other photographers and how great the community is there. Twitter is still great but everything has changed with the introduction of Google+. I’ve just started looking into Google+ and I’m already hooked. I see more interaction there than I have ever seen on any other social network. I’ve watched people post an image on their feed and within 5 minutes have over 80 comments. Watching the feeds of ‘Google+ Celebrities’ is even more amazing because the feeds update in real time. People like Trey Ratcliff or Darren Rowse can create a post and you can just sit and watch as hundreds of comments start to just pour in.
I’m not sure how to explain this phenomenon, but Google+ is off to a huge start. Within two weeks of launching (and by invite only I might add) Google+ was up to 10 million users. It took Facebook 852 days to accomplish that same feat and Twitter took 780 days. Now surely Facebook and Twitter paved the way for Google+ to be successful to some extent, but this is certainly a stat that can’t be ignored.
Let’s go over some of the key advantages in Google+ and why photographers should be all over this incredible new social media outlet.
Interaction and Community
This is the strongest reason that I can see. The interaction and general feeling of community at G+ is incredible. People on average are getting 10-100 times the interaction on G+ that they receive on Twitter or Facebook. This means more comments, more feedback, and ultimately more outlets to get your name out there.
The G+ circles change everything. If you want a great explanation of how circles work, be sure to check out this quick video: What is Google+ and Why Do I Need It? Basically, Circles allow you to filter who’s content you see, and who can see your content. You can have a circle for you family, a circle for your close friends, a circle for online friends, a circle for photographers, etc. When you create a post you can choose which of those circles you want that post to appear to. If you want to share something about photography, you can choose to just share that post with your photography circle. Likewise, you can choose different feeds when viewing the posts of others. This has become my biggest issue with Facebook. When I get on Facebook, I have to sift through thousands of irrelevant status updates to find a few interesting ones. If I want to see what a certain group of people are up to, I have to either sift through my status feed or go to each of their individual profile pages. When I share a post of Facebook, everyone sees it. So if I post a link about photography, that post goes out to my family members, my friends who have no interest in photography, my old coworkers, my old bosses and so on.
Your Images Look Better On G+
One of the biggest complaints about Facebook has always been their images. With a maximum width of something like 700 pixels, and color management that can be called lack luster at best, images on Facebook have always left much to be desired. G+ almost seems like it was built with photographers in mind. Maximum width for photos on G+ is 2048 pixels wide! I’m not sure I’ll ever upload an image that large to G+, but it’s nice to not feel like I’m limited. Aside from image size, I’ve noticed that my images look a lot better on G+ too. There was always something off about the color on any images I uploaded to Facebook, and I always had the same complaints from other as well.
Looking at other photographers images is a blast too. The galleries are slick and look great. You can see how many comments are on each image just by looking at the thumbnails. If you want to add your own comment, just click the image to bring up a lightbox for the image with comments.
So long Skype! Sorry to say it but facts are facts. Google+ hangouts are incredible, they are free and photographers are using them in unique ways. Hangouts are being used to network with other photogs, talk about gear, give tips, provide portfolio reviews, provide community photo critiques and more. The possibilites are endless and it will be very interesting to see what other ideas for hangouts pop up in the near future. Hangouts pop up all the time and you can either join in on an existing one or start your own. You may also receive an invitation to join a private chat at any time. A great reason to always wear clothes when you’re on the computer!
Goodbye Character Limits
A lot of photographers are going to use G+ much in the same way they use Twitter: To network with other photographers. G+ excels in this arena not only because of the above points but also because there is no limit (as far as I know) to how long a post can be. No more 140 character limit! That means that if you want you can post an entire article to your G+ stream for all of your followers to view. I’ve already seen photog colleagues such as Darren Rowse doing stuff like this by posting short articles about blogging and marketing.
No Naked People Allowed
This is a big one for me. One of the things I cannot stand about 500px is the amount of nudity splashed all over the place. Eventually I discovered you can turn a setting on which doesn’t allow nude content but that only filters out the images where the photographer actually takes the time and tags the image as a nude. So even with this setting turned on I still see nude inappropriate images when trying to browse through the otherwise brilliant selection of imagery. In my opinion (and I know there will be plenty who disagree) nude photography is not art, it’s borderline porn and having a girl take her top off seems like nothing more than a crutch for true creativity. You can have a mundane image of some girl but if you have her take something off then it shows up on the front page of 500px. Pretty shallow if you ask me. For this reason, my trips to 500px are very rare and usually only occur when following a link that somebody posts on twitter. My rule of thumb is that if I wouldn’t look at something with my wife sitting next to me, then there is no way to justify looking at it when she’s not. Sorry for the rant…
Anyways…Google+ doesn’t allow nude photos. It’s made very clear in their terms of service and violating Google’s TOS is not a good idea. With this rule and my point about hangouts: Google+ is a sanctuary for photographers with their clothes on. You can quote me on that.
Social Media Overload
I know there are a certain number of you thinking, “Oh great, another social media outlet that I have to keep up with.” Trust me, I thought the exact same thing when I got my invite to G+. Just the thought of having one more outlet to keep up with made me cringe. Before I started messing around on G+ I was using Twitter and Facebook as my primary outlets for social media. Since G+ came out I’ve been spending about 60% of my time there, maybe 35% on Twitter and maaaybe 5% on Facebook. I know this won’t be the case for everyone, but I am just about done with Facebook. I will still use it from time to time (and I have no immediate plans of canceling my account) but there are just too many interesting things going on besides Facebook right now. I’m not completely abandoning ship but one could certain say I have a foot out the door!
I hope by now you are at least intrigued and curious about the possibilites of Google Plus. If you want an incredibly in depth tutorial of how to use Google+ (from setting up your account to creating circles and starting hangouts) then I highly suggest taking a look at an article from photographer Colby Brown titled Google+: A Survival Guide For A Photographers Paradise. This article could double as an instruction manual for Google+ and is certainly worth a read.
In closing, here are links to some of the writers here at DPS who are on G+. Most of us do a lot more than writing for DPS so be sure to add us on your stream. You could even group us all into our own little circle. Cheers!