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Google+ Adds a Seamless Way to Hangout

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Google+ announced a few new features to their Hangouts today in hopes to bring friends and family closer during the holidays. They make saying hello to your loved ones face-to-face easy and best of all – free.

One new improvement is the ability to start a Google+ Hangout video chat from a status update.

As they show in the photo above, all you have to do is click “Hangout” underneath a status update and they’ll add your invitation in the comments.

Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President of Google+, gives an example of when this feature might be useful. He says,”Suppose your sister gets engaged, or your roommate lands a job, or your favorite singer shares their concert schedule. You can obviously write comments back and forth, but it’s moments like these when you really want to connect in person.”

Google+ has also brought Hangouts to Google+ Messenger on mobile devices. Just tap the new hangout icon (a video camera) and it will go instantly from text to video.

You can expect to see this new app within the coming days.

You can see all of the other improvements Google+ made to Hangouts on their post here, which includes integration with YouTube and more.

Can you see yourself using Google+ Hangouts more with these new improvements?

Introducing the New Drop-Down Google Menu

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Google has been on a six month journey updating their systems to a new look. From Search and News to Gmail, Maps and more, we’ve seen changes across the board.

The team says their goal with these changes is “to create a beautifully simple and intuitive user experience across Google” and they announced yesterday another stage in the redesign process. Introducing the new Google bar.

As you can see in the image above, there is a drop-down style menu nested right beside the Google logo. This allows users to navigate between Google services quickly.

Google says, “Making navigation and sharing super simple for people is a key part of our efforts to transform the overall Google experience, which is why we’re very excited about this redesign.”

Here’s a video showing you how the new Google bar works.

So, what do you think of the changes to the Google bar?

How to Enable YouTube’s New Design Now

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Most likely you’ve heard about YouTube‘s new design that is coming soon. (Reportedly, some already have it.) Now you can have the chance to give it a test drive.

Thanks to the people over at The Verge, we have the super secret (okay, it’s totally not a secret anymore) formula:

In Firefox: Ctrl + Shift + K (Win) | Cmd + Shift + K (Mac)

In Chrome: Ctrl + Shift + J (Win) | or Cmd + Alt + J (Mac)

Now punch in the following string of code:

document.cookie=”VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=ST1Ti53r4fU”;

Now, close the console and re-load the site. Easy as pie. I tried it and it worked beautifully. Here’s a screen capture I took.

After you sign in, you’ll notice on the left hand side a button for Google+. One click and it loads all of the videos from your Google+ Circles. Overall it’s a very clean and well-organized design.

If you try switching to the new YouTube, let me know what you think about it. No word on when YouTube will switch everyone over themselves.

New Google+ Feature – Chat with People in Your Circles

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If you’ve logged onto your Google+ account today, you may have noticed a little pop-up on the bottom right announcing a new feature.

The message reads “New! Chat with the people in your circles. You can now chat with the people in your circles (who also have you in their circles). Change which circles you can chat with by choosing Privacy Settings from the chat menu.”

This change means you no longer need a person’s email address to chat. You just need to have each other in your Circles.

Another significant change this brings, is the ability to chat even when you’re not using Google+. You can chat using Gmail, the Google Talk client, iGoogle, Orkut and 3rd party apps.

A Google spokesperson commented on the change saying, “We’re making it easier to chat with the people you care about.” They also said this is not a form of group chat and you can not start group chats from Circles.

So, what do you think about the Google+ chat change? Are you ready to start chatting with everyone in your Circles?

Use the Google+ Community Guide to Help Your Organization Thrive

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Have you created a page for your business on Google+ yet? They launched on November 7th and it sounds like companies, groups, politicians, sports teams and more ran over there and snagged their page quickly. (Be sure and add the BlogWorld & New Media Expo Google+ page to your circles.)

After you created your page, you might be asking “What now?”. It doesn’t do you any good if you have a page and have no idea how to promote it, interact on it or what in the world to say on your stream.

Google+ is here to help. In a blog post titled Connect with your community on Google+, they outline some groups who have created a page, are participating in hangouts and tell us about their new community guide.

On the site, you can find out how to get your organization started on Google+, and learn how other groups like yours—universities, political organizations, nonprofits, sports, media companies and celebrities—are using the platform. You’ll find case studies and ideas for how organizations or individuals in each of these communities have used Google+ effectively. For example, you’ll see how NBC’s Breaking News Google+ page is using the platform to deliver breaking news; or how the Dallas Cowboys are using hangouts to connect with fans; or how celebrities like Conan O’Brien are announcing their Google+ pages to the world.

The Google+ Community Guide is broken down into sections which include celebs, media, non-profits, politics, sports and universities. When you click on Google+ for Media for example, it gives you ideas on how to target your audience with Google+ Circles, Hangouts, how to share breaking news and more.

Have you created a Google+ Page? If so, what are some tips you have to offer to make it succeed?

 

Google+ Launches the Google Photography Prize

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During the Google+ for Business session at BlogWorld LA, Guy Kawasaki made a comment about passionate people using the social network, which I highlighted. He said “For me, Facebook is for friends and family and Google+ is for people who share your passion that you don’t know yet.

One group of passionate people whom he mentioned were on Google+ are photographers. Google+ agrees. So much so they’ve launched a contest looking for the photography stars of the future.

Not only are there quite a few amazing photographers hanging out on Google+, but a staggering number of photos have been posted.

Google+ is only a few months old, but the photography community is already thriving on it. Take a look at the profiles of Scott Jarvie, Thomas Hawk, Colby Brown or Claire Grigaut to see just a few of the inspiring photographers on Google+. More than 3.4 billion photos have been uploaded to the platform in the first 100 days.

Google is teaming up with Saatchi Gallery, London for the Google Photography Prize. This will give students around the world a chance to showcase their photos on Google+, as well as have their work exhibited on the world wide stage. It sounds like an amazing opportunity.

For more information on the contest, visit the Google Photography Prize page. For those of you who would like to see all of the great work being submitted, Saatchi Gallery, London will share updates on their page, so be sure to add them to your Google+ Circles.

Image Source: SXC

Google+ is Delighted to Be Underestimated by Facebook

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During an interview between PBS’s Charlie Rose, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg Monday evening (November 7th), Zuckerberg was asked what he thought about Google+. He called it Google’s “own little version of Facebook”.

Google+ VP of Product Management, Bradley Horowitz, has fired back in reaction to that statement by Zuckerberg saying, “We are delighted to be underestimated. It’s served us very well to date.”

Of course everyone looks at Google+ and Facebook as competitors, especially now that Google+ Pages have rolled out. Horowitz has a slightly different view of the whole competitor aspect.

He says it’s less a direct competitor and more a new way of using all of Google’s existing products.

As for when we can all start to create our own Google+ Page, the answer is right now. It is open to the world and any Google+ user can now create their own page.

Watch the video interview below to hear Horowitz talk about engagement, Google+ growth, Facebook and more. To create your own Google+ Page, go to https://plus.google.com/pages/create.

Do you see Google+ and Facebook as competitors or are they two different social networks used for different purposes?

Google+ Pages Are Here, Connects Brands with Customers & Fans

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During the Google+ for Business session at BlogWorld Expo Los Angeles, it was mentioned Google+ didn’t have business pages yet, but Guy Kawasaki and Chris Brogan gave some tips on using it for your business anyway. Well, only 4 days after that session, Google+ Pages are here.

Google announced Google+ Pages on their blog and are saying that at first, Google+ was about connecting people with people. Now, with the addition of Google+ Pages, we can “build relationships with all the things you care about—from local businesses to global brands”.

What does Google+ Pages do for brands and businesses? It connects them with customers and fans, in real-time. As the guy from Zen Bikes said in the video below, it helps brands break down those walls and make their customers feel at home.

What does Google+ Pages do for the people? Google says it “gives life to everything we find in the real world” and helps us create lasting bonds with brands.

There are several Google+ Pages already live and it will be interesting to see how the different companies start using this new feature. I was excited to see that The Muppets have a page and will be hosting a Google+ Hangout today at 4:30 pm PT.

Also, not only has Google + launched their pages, but different ways to add pages from Google search.

People search on Google billions of times a day, and very often, they’re looking for businesses and brands. Today’s launch of Google+ Pages can help people transform their queries into meaningful connections, so we’re rolling out two ways to add pages to circles from Google search. The first is by including Google+ pages in search results, and the second is a new feature called Direct Connect.

I do believe this is huge for brands. Google+ Pages isn’t ready for everyone quite yet, but they say it will be released soon. In the meantime, watch these two videos which highlight Google+ Pages and Google+ Direct Connect.

Will you be creating a Google+ Page for your business? Why or why not?

The Difference Between Facebook and Google+ is Passion

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For those of you who are at BlogWorld Los Angeles, did you attend the Google+ for Business session with Guy Kawasaki and Chris Brogan? I sat in mainly because I am still trying to figure out this mystery we call Google+. It’s still a mystery to me as to how to use it, if I should use it and who is using it.

There have been dozens and dozens of articles written on how people think Google+ is not doing well or the fact that it’s doomed to fail. (Guy commented on the fact he can’t understand why the tech world seems so negative about Google+.)

What it seems most people want to know is why would they put any focus on Google+ when they are active on Facebook? More time on a social network? Are you kidding me? Most of us barely have time to focus our efforts on Facebook and Twitter, much less adding something else in.

But both Guy and Chris believe Google+ is a must for your business. They listed a bunch of reasons why, but the one quote that stuck out to me the most was when Guy gave his opinion on the difference between Facebook and Google+.

He said, “For me, Facebook is for friends and family and Google+ is for people who share your passion that you don’t know yet.”

What does he mean by that exactly? He means that Google+ is full of people who are passionate about a specific subject. He’s found communities based around everything from photography to hockey. And within these communities, you can build a relationship with people who share the same passion as you.

Guy spends 2 to 3 hours a day on Google+ interacting with people and using it as a marketing platform. Yes, 2 to 3 hours a day.

They both gave many more reasons they believe NOW is the time to get involved in and active on Google+. If you want to hear their session, be sure and check out the BlogWorld Virtual Ticket.

So, let’s open up the floor for discussion. For those of you who were in the Google+ for Business session, what did you walk away with? For those of you who weren’t, what are your thoughts on the difference between Facebook and Google+ Guy gave? I would love to hear your thoughts and if you think spending time on Google+ is worth it.

What’s Hot on Google+

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Google+ unveiled a new feature today which lets users know what people are sharing and getting excited about on their social network.

They say that Google+ users share billions (yes, with a b) of items everyday and sometimes we just want to find something cool, whether it be a picture or breaking news. That’s why they released – appropriately called – What’s Hot.

Here’s a video with one of Google’s engineers explaining the What’s Hot Google+ feature, where to find it and how to use it.

Google+ also announced two more new features. Google+ Ripples and Google+ Creative Kit. Here’s a brief description of each with the corresponding video.

Google+ Ripples

There’s something deeply satisfying about sharing on Google+, then watching the activity unfold. Comments pour in, notifications light up, friends share with friends (who share with their friends), and in no time at all there’s an entire community around your post. We want to help people re-live those conversations—both to rekindle that initial excitement, and to learn how posts flow across the network. That’s why we’re launching Google+ Ripples: a visualization tool for public shares and comments.

Google+ Creative Kit

Nothing tells a story like the perfect picture, so it’s only natural to want to make yours really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking. Unfortunately, photo editing is too often a chore, requiring specialized software and lots of patience. We want to help everyone put their best photo forward, so today we’re introducing the Google+ Creative Kit, a fast and friendly way to make powerful edits to your photos.

So, what do you think? Does Google+ continue to release great and useful features that make you want to keep sharing and using their social network?

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