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I can’t remember who first “invited” me to Google Plus when it was still in beta, but I was excited to join the latest social media site and see what is was all about. Of course, as is the case with many Google+ early adopters, I was initially discouraged after finding that most of my Facebook friends weren’t on Google+. With no one to talk to, my Google Plus account remained dormant for a few months. A skeptical person by nature, I figured that Google was trying to reinvent Facebook and failed because most people on Facebook had no need to adopt another social media channel. Then, at a Connecticut Social Media Breakfast event, I heard a speaker named Heather Fay say something I had never heard before: “I’m in love with Google Plus and it has changed my life.”

Fay, a mother and a musician, described how she was able to network with a whole worldwide community of musicians through Google + and even “jam” with musicians across the world through Google +’s video chat feature called Hangouts. Now, she never had to leave the comfort of her basement to perform on camera and receive instant feedback from other musicians across the United States and even in places like Australia. At the time, she was also a beta tester for Google+’s new On Air feature, which enables users to record Hangouts, edit them, and then post them publicly for the world to see. After leaving this conference, the possibilities of this Google+ feature to revolutionize music by completely eliminating the barrier of long distances intrigued me.

I recently read a blog post from Guy Kawasaki, an author/blogger who mentioned a book he had written called “What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us.” After downloading the book to my Kindle, I read the title of the first chapter, and it sounded familiar: “Why I Love Google+.” At the end of the first chapter, the way Kawasaki described Facebook and Google+ fundamentally changed the way I had viewed the two previously. “Facebook = People. Facebook is the way to learn what’s going on in the lives of people you already know. Google+ = Passions. Google+ enables you to pursue your passions with people you don’t know.” This simple yet powerful observation completely changed my attitude towards Google+. It wasn’t yet another place for me to post the same information to the same friends I had on Facebook, it was a chance for me to connect with people who shared my passions – for me it was writing, blogging, journalism, sports, music, entertainment and the culinary world. I have spent pretty much only one day so far really tapping into the power of Google+, and I have met many fascinating people already. I’ll tell you about some of them in a minute, but first, let me tell you 10 reasons why Google+ is better than Facebook. These aren’t necessarily in any order of importance:

1. Google+ has no advertisements (so far)
Does anyone remember in “The Social Network” when the actor who played Mark Zuckerberg said something to the effect of “Facebook is cool. I don’t want ads, ads will spoil it.” Well said. However, unless you download a JavaScript to block Facebooks ads like I do, the right side of your stream now has ads all over it. Google+ currently has a clean interface with no ads, although I am not certain if they will incorporate ads in the future.

2. Google+ shows more posts
I don’t want to quote a wrong number, but Facebook only displays a portion of your posts to your followers (I think it differs depending on if you are a business or an individual). On Google+ you can post to particular circles as well as post publicly to the entire Google+ community, and you can adjust how many posts from others you want to see in your stream.

3. You don’t have to ask permission to follow people
Ever friend request someone on Facebook and never hear back? Do they not like you or just never go on Facebook? Either way, the whole concept of friend requests encourages you to “friend” people you know, you never really branch out and meet new people. On Google+, you can add someone to your circles, and they will add you back if they like what you post and want to find out more about you.

4. People vs. passion
I already spoke about this previously, but it is key to your experience on Google+. You can meet people who share passions for the same things you do and expand your network of friends.

5. Hang Outs and On Air
It’s not like Google+ invented video chatting, but this functionality is awesome. Especially seeing how musicians are using this to write music and connect in real time all over the world. To learn more about it, check out the Google+ help center.

6. Google+ Circles
This reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” where he talks about the different types of people. People who he calls “connectors” often introduce people in to a new social circle and they in turn expand throughout the circle. Connectors are often members of many circles. Circles are at the heart of the Google+ experience, for more about this I highly recommend Guy Kawasaki’s book.

7. Famous people actually respond to you (sometimes)
I’m not saying here that Lady Gaga is going to personally welcome you when you join Google+, but in my short experience I noticed that people actually respond more on Google+. For instance, I commented on a post written by Guy Kawasaki and he responded back almost immediately. This is a guy (pun unintended) who has millions of social media followers, and he took the time to personally respond to me. Real cool.

8. Less personal to remove people from circles
I just recently removed someone from my Facebook friend list and it is quite a monumental event. It’s like that person doesn’t exist anymore in your online world. On Google+, when you remove someone from a circle, it’s less personal and isn’t quite as weighty.

9. You can add whole circles of people
You can search for whole circles of people who share your interests and add the entire circle. For instance, I added a circle of writers, bloggers and musicians among others. At the time I didn’t realize it, but Heather Fay, the woman who first declared “I’m in love with Google+” at the Connecticut Social Media breakfast I attended, was actually in the musician circle that I followed. It’s a small world, but even smaller on Google+. Because circles are grouped by shared passions, journalists would be crazy not to use this feature to find sources and experts!

10. The overall feel of sharing and collaboration is different on Google+
This one is harder to describe, you really have to experience it for yourself. In the short time I have been active on Google+ I have met many interesting people who have shared their music, writing, photography and art with me. My advice is to check it out for yourself.

Some of the musicians I have met on Google+ so far and my future Google+ plans

I want to share some of the musicians I have met so far and the work they are doing. I enjoy all types of music, so I was thrilled to see some of the stuff people are working on. The first person that reached out to me was Marc Carmi Smith from San Rafael, California, who shared a video of him jamming out on the drums. Check out Smith rocking out on the drums here:

Another musician that reached out to me was Galley Slaves, a rock group from Sydney, Australia who shared some music videos with me. Here is one of their videos:

Finally, a third musician reached out to me by the name of Hanna Silver from Melbourne, Australia. She is actually in multiple bands, check out her work here:

These are just some of the people I have met in my first active day on Google+. Moving forward, I am writing an upcoming article about a band called "Lateral" who is collaborating and writing music utilizing Google+ Hangouts and other technology. The bassist, Adolfo Delannoy, just moved to Los Angeles, California, the drummer lives in Florida and the guitar player lives in Puerto Rico. The article will also include some video and audio elements and I am really looking forward to writing it. Also upcoming is a series that I will be producing for our blog Live Toast that centers on the Boston, Massachusetts music scene and many up-and-coming musicians from rap to rock to pop and everything in between, courtesy of an audio engineer who is one of my closest friends, Alex Allinson. (I’m going to work on getting him active on Google+)!

Don’t forget to add me, Jeremy Katz, to your Google+ circles and my company, Ticket Liquidator, who gives me the artistic freedom to produce these new features on our Live Toast Blog!


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