Elgan: How Google+ ends social networking fatigue

Google+ isn't just another social network. It's the one place to consolidate all of your social activity.

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You can target exactly who you'd like to invite into a video chat session, or you can open it up to larger groups and take all comers.

Best of all, it's integrated into Google+. Right in the middle of a heated thread, you can simply stop typing and launch a face-to-face video conversation.

Texting and chat

Google+ has the same Chat feature as Gmail. Just like on Gmail, you can add people to a group chat.

Google Chat enables you to chat with anyone who has a Google username and password. It also supports AIM, so you can chat with anyone with an AIM account.

Google+ is already supported brilliantly with an app on Google's own Android platform. You can "chat" from your Android phone as a superior replacement for SMS and MMS texting.

The iOS app for Google+ has already been submitted for approval. Once that's available, you'll be able to do the same thing from your iPhone or iPad.

Location-based social networking

Millions of people enjoy using location-based social networks such as Foursquare. (Millions more want nothing to do with it.) But if you do like to "check in" and let your family and friends know where you are, that capability is built in to Google+.

You can't become "mayor", unlock badges or win a free sandwich. But that's a feature or a bug, depending on your perspective.

Email newsletter

One the most effective ways to reach people is the good, old-fashioned email newsletter. They're great for businesses, self-promoting writers (like me) or for anyone who wants to reach a large number of people on a regular basis.

I publish an email newsletter myself. One problem: Half the subscribers never get it because various Internet, corporate and personal spam filters have decided my newsletter is unwanted commercial advertising, rather than the opt-in, ad-free, non-commercial publication that it actually is. All email newsletter publishers are frustrated by spam filters.

A list of email addresses is called a mailing list. But on Google+, it's called a Social Circle. By serving up your content by way of Google+, you're still delivering email to the people who aren't members or who choose to get it via email. The rest get it on their Google+ feed. Either way, you're skirting the spam filters and directly reaching your audience.

Google+ can replace not just Facebook, but nearly every form of online communication. And by using Google+ for all your online social activity, you can radically simplify your life.

Imagine doing it all on a single site with a single login in a single feed! And it doesn't hurt that Google+ clearly has the most advanced user interface.

Don't think of Google+ as yet another social site to deal with. Think of it as the only social site you have to deal with.

As an experiment to test this concept, I've decided to go on a "Google+ Diet" and stop using all forms of online communication except Google+. I'll tell you what happens in a future column. Or you can watch it unfold in real time by following me on Google+.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. Contact and learn more about Mike at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free e-mail newsletter, Mike's List.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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