BitDepth 793 - August 02

Social media gets a bit richer with BranchOut and Goole+, do you have the time?
More social media in yuh pweffen
Google+ introduces this amusing interface for organising social media colleagues.

It’s unclear why anybody thought that adding more social media options to an Internet already cluttered to bursting with them was a good idea, but at least two new contenders are drawing attention and signups.

Google is no stranger to social media. The company, best known for its search engine, has been trying to get a social media project right for years now.

It’s floated Orkut, Jaiku, Wave and Buzz with varying success, Orkut winning some early success in Facebook’s early years (mainly outside the US) but it failed miserably with Wave and Buzz, which nobody outside the company’s Mountain View headquarters in California could make any sense of.

Google+, the company’s newest offering, is certainly more accessible. The website, in trademark spartan style, let’s you add posts, upload photos, add and mercifully, organise people you want to connect to.

Google+ uses a metaphor of circles. You create virtual circles that represent your interests and add people to them. You must add someone to at least one circle to connect to them.
The site searches your GMail account for people you might want to connect to and offers them in a row of tidy icons that you can drag into the circles you’ve created. Adding someone who isn’t currently on Google+ sends them an invitation to join.

Delete a circle and it pops off the row and rolls off the side of the browser window. Cute. You can set up a “hangout,” a videoconferencing chat that makes use of the GoogleTalk plug-in.
My Tweeps were all over Google+ on its introduction and joining the service was really a decision to go with that undertow.

I like Google+, though I’m still trying to make sense of the +1 rating system which Google has managed to make more obtuse than Facebook’s obvious 'Like' button.

People are joining Google+, posting images and text to the service and roping their online buddies into their circles. Things are likely to get even more lively when social media apps like Hootsuite and Seesmic begin to include the service in their packages. That’s a big improvement over the ghost towns that Google has built in the past.

While the Google+ furore was raging, I’d been studiously ignoring BranchOut, dumping one invite after another on the general principle that Facebook apps tend to be hackers delights.
I finally caved and found an intriguing effort at replicating Linked-in’s business and professional focus lurking inside Facebook itself.

Unlike LinkedIn, which is adamantly focused on being, well, businesslike, BranchOut keeps some of the tone of fun that’s built into Facebook. You earn points toward utterly meaningless badges by adding more connections and get deluged with insane statistics about your secondary and tertiary connections to people and companies.

You can invite people to join your BranchOut network and if someone is a Facebook friend and they join BranchOut; they get added automatically to your list of connections.
Some aspects of BranchOut look promising. Job requests show up quickly in the app and endorsements can reach a wide audience much faster than they do on LinkedIn.

What isn’t clear is where BranchOut goes next. So much of the software is intimately tied into Facebook’s way of doing things that it seems locked into a social network that isn’t known for its business focus.

In addition, Facebook is blocked in many businesses, which seems to position BranchOut as a solution for outside the office and for independent contractors seeking projects and contacts.
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