Google+ is Google’s flagship social network, allowing users to connect easily and often, through interests and friendship. It’s not an independent service – instead, it is integrated and connected through all Google services as part of the ‘ecosystem’.
Interactions with individuals or companies are based on profiles or pages. Here is a useful example created by Google to share tips and hints on using Google.
In many respects, Google+ is more of an ‘information network’ than a social network. Facebook was created to connect with friends and socialize, and LinkedIn to connect professionals, whereas Google+ is to find others with similar interests.
Social networks generally come in two forms: asymmetrical and symmetrical. Symmetrical social networks require two users to be ‘friends’ or fans of one another before they can connect. Examples of symmetrical social networks include Facebook and LinkedIn.
An asymmetrical social network allows someone to follow someone else without them having to follow back in order to benefit from what that person is posting about. Twitter is a good example of an asymmetrical social network, as well as Facebook’s (fan) pages.
Google+ is an asymmetrical social network too and this gives users the ability to grow their network of followers much more easily because the growth of the network is not dependent on reciprocity. Cristopher S. Penn has pointed out1 that because reciprocity is optional, people seem more willing to connect on networks because they are given the freedom of choice.