Google+ Social Club: Highlights and Invite-Fest

Meet Google+, Maybe Your Next Social Network

Everyone is buzzing about Google+, myself included. And I do mean buzzing, like, I have a contact high from how much I like it. If you’re just getting caught up to speed, last week Google unveiled its remarkably polished, ambitious follow up to Google Buzz — the company’s last crash-and-burn social media experiment– and Google Wave, the one before it (that Autostraddle may or may not have collectively broken once upon a time). Google+ is poised to take on Facebook in a big way (especially now that some third-party apps can whisk your Facebook stuff right over to Googleville), and it looks to deliver on that promise.

While everyone wanted to like them, Wave was awkward and buggy and Buzz had furious privacy-conscious users lining up at its HQ with pitchforks and those torches that always seem to burn forever in the movies. I was initially a proponent of Wave, while my noble fellow ‘straddlers and most of the sane interweb quickly grew to loathe it (click that Wave link above for proof). Both products seemed rushed and generally not fully thought out, and when you’re Google, there’s just really no excuse for that kind of half-baked nonsense.

That’s exactly why Google+ (or G+, because typing out that double ‘o’ gets old fast) is a breath of fresh air. Not only is it polished, thoughtful, and intuitive…it’s big. Google seems to want to tie every feature in the Googleverse into the service. Plus is even coiled up innocently in a navigation bar atop Gmail, beckoning you to to get sucked in. Well, I for one have happily gone down Google’s social rabbit hole. The service offers approximately everything I’ve wanted in a social network.

If you haven’t tooled around in Google+ yet, here are a some major highlights to get you revving your Googly engines in no time!


1. Circles

Circles are the conceptual framework that differentiates Google+ from that other social network — you know the one that dude from Harvard made. Just when we thought Facebook was the be-all-end-all, Circles recasts the online social fraternizing scene entirely. Circles allow you to sort all of your contacts into groups that you name from the get-go. As soon as you friend someone on G+, you’re going to want to plunk them down into a Circle of your choosing. You can name Circles whatever you want (the possibilities are endless — I suggest a Dante’s Inferno-themed hellscape!) Sort them into work, friends, family, and acquaintances (boring); sort them geographically; sort them by variations on their respective alternative lifestyle haircuts — whatever you want! People will never know what your Circles are called. A Circle can have 40 members or just 1. They’re very flexible.

Once you’ve got your Circles in order, you can selectively share stuff with ’em (or with individual users by typing @ followed by their name/Gmail address). Don’t want your Mom to see your impressive collection of empty whiskey bottles or what you did last night? Just share it with the Circles you’re comfortable with, like your Asymmetrical Haircut Circle, or even select the friends who helped drink all that whiskey.


2. The Stream

The Stream is essentially your Facebook News Feed. It’s where everything goes on, and you can sort it by Circles too, if you want to see what a specific group of people are up to. Photos, status updates, shared stories — it’s all here.

3. Hangouts

Hangouts are the icing on the cake. Group video chat isn’t incredibly new, but the Hangout feature is amazingly slick from the start. I am notoriously averse to both voice and video communication, but I’ve been lurking around in these group video chat sessions almost every day since G+ went live. Using Circles, you can strike up a Hangout sesh with up to 10 people. There’s a traditional text chatroom option on the side, so you can retain your seeming eloquence while letting people see your shiny, lovely faceparts if you want. Everyone’s video feed is displayed at once, but the featured voice chatter switches automatically based on who’s talking. Cool right? Beyond that, an extra-extra bonus feature lets you switch to share YouTube videos, all in the same window. As a group, you can curate your own weirdo video sessions, all from the same window.

4. Photo Sharing

This is an awesome feature that gets extra awesome for a) Android users and b) anyone who already uses Google’s photo storage service Picasa. Photo sharing is beautifully integrated into Google+, and like everything else (this time around), there’s a big focus on privacy. You can upload photos through the web-based service, share them with whomever you want, and tag them too. Again, you can use Circles to control who sees what, based on your own preferences (or indiscretions).

If you often snap photos on an Android phone, you can set the official Android Google+ app to support “Instant Uploads” in the settings menu. This will automatically sync all of your photos to your Google+ account in the background, then you can either keep them private or shoot ’em off to anyone you want at your convenience. You might take a hit in battery life if you’ve got this feature turned on. If you notice your juice is running low faster than usual, you can specify that you only want Instant Uploads to happen when you’re plugged in and charging.

5. Invites!

Google+ is rocking my world right now, but an online ghost town isn’t fun for anybody. Only time will tell if the service will be able to lure enough users away from Facebook to sustain itself, but let’s do what we can to populate Google’s lovely little social world. You’ll be hearing more of my Totally Pro G+ Thoughts soon, but in the meantime, why not explore?

Do you need a Google+ invite? Are you already on there, cruising around in the big Googly void? Leave your Gmail address in the comments (the first part will suffice, so you don’t get spammed to death) and go to town with those queer lit-themed Circles!

Note! If you’ve been invited since you last commented, pay it forward and toss an invite to someone else (or 50 someone elses) on the list! Yeah!

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Taylor has written 136 articles for us.


  1. I’ve heard tons about it but had yet to really knowwww what it was – thanks for clearing that up Taylor :) Sounds like a hoot! I think the next step is to Autostraddlify good ol’ G+.

    email = cynthia.lujanjenkins


  2. I am quickly figuring out how Google+ works, and I’m pretty much a fan so far. Though as of now, I only know a few people using it. I feel like Elton John’s Rocket Man… it’s lonely here in my Google space.

  3. I really think Google+ is going to succeed, obvs Facebook is running scared, hence the hookup with Skype – a knee-jerk reaction to Googles Hangouts, eh?!!

    Social media marketing wise, do you think it would benefit businesses better than Facebook? I’ve read they’re currently trying to put off companies creating pages at the mo as they are working on some stuff??

    I would love an invite, but only have work gmail account, so need to get a personal one-how long is your open invite for?

  4. I’ve been trying to invite some of my friends for the past couple of days but G+ will not let me. The button is there! I click it and nothing. Sigh. Aside from that I am really loving it.

    mbatkk if anyone fancies being friend like.

  5. I just got G+ last night and a nude fiancee lured me away before I explore much but it definitely seems like a winner. Just a heads up for new invites, when I (and friends) first tried to sign up using an invite and said the trial was full but if you try again later you’ll likely get on with no trouble.

  6. I got Google+. My friend sent me an invite a couple weeks ago and I ignored it. I mentioned it to the IT guy in my office and he freaked out that I didn’t accept it right away! LOL. He insisted I sign up so he could invite me.


    I will say I think the idea of circles is cool. Not all people are “friends” and not all friends are created equal.

    I also think the ease of viewing pictures is superior to Facebook.

    Integrated hangouts for voice and video chat seems cool too, but I’m not sure how much I’d personally use them.


    What I don’t like is though that I will add people to my circles and they won’t add me back, so I think they hate me and I look like a weirdo stalker person. I wish it was a mutual agreement the way it is in Facebook. Now I’m wondering if I need remove someone from my circles who didn’t add me to theirs… even though I’m the one that invited the bitch!

    I also don’t like that it’s integrated into one specific Gmail account because, maybe I’m a weirdo, but I have many Gmail accounts. I compartmentalize my life and now friends associated with different Gmail addresses aren’t being automatically imported. Furthermore, if I go to check another Gmail account’s email, I get logged out of Google+ and start get error messages when I try to do stuff.

    Anyway, if anyone needs an invite, message me here. I’ve found that invites won’t get you in because they claim they can’t accept new people, but if someone shares content with you, you get straight in to sign up.

  7. It looks promising to me, especially since my family is so far flung (I’m in Australia, my parents are (for now) in Chicago, my brother is in Seattle). Those hangouts look perfect for catching up with them! (Skype always goes funny for me when you have three or more people in a conversation…)

  8. I don’t mean to be on an all hail the great and mighty Facebook buzz, cos Google will always have my heart, but the group function on Facebook kinda does the same thing as circles.

    I don’t know how many people use them but you can make them private and its basically a little mini FB that has all the same functionality except its restricted to whoever you put in the group. Consider this a public service announcement or something, because honestly I wouldn’t use FB much if it weren’t for that.

    • I know Facebook has friend groups, but it’s clunky to use. With Google+, you can decide per action which circles should be exposed to it. With Facebook groups, it’s an all or nothing setting you set up ahead of time. I’m sure Facebook is making “squares” or something as we speak…

  9. I’ve been using G+ this past week, and I love it, but the lack of privacy does worry me. You mention that:
    “Don’t want your Mom to see your impressive collection of empty whiskey bottles or what you did last night? Just share it with the Circles you’re comfortable with, like your Asymmetrical Haircut Circle, or even select the friends who helped drink all that whiskey.”

    However, it doesn’t actually work like that. As far as I’ve seen, the posts you leave on other pages may show up on your “wall.” And unlike Facebook, even if you block someone, they can keep “following” you and seeing your status updates, etc. The only thing I’m really worried about is my parents getting G+ accounts and kicking me out again.

    Everything else, from the circles to the hangouts, is AWESOME, though! I love that it’s integrated into gmail!

    • I agree. The privacy settings seem a little fluid to me. I’m not sure how they work. I’m going to need to understand it better before I really start using Google+ to share a lot. Right now I’m still unclear what other people are seeing.

  10. Man, I feel kind of bad for asking for an invite when you’re already bombarded with requests, but I just can’t resist. My gmail’s puddlejumper01. :D? :D? :D?

    I really hope Google+ turns out to be as awesome as it sounds. I have a Facebook but I don’t really ~trust it. I’M ROOTING FOR YOU, GOOGLE.

  11. I was invited last week by a friend, but I don’t really know anyone else kn G+, so I’d love to have an Autostraddle circle of rad girls!

    My gmail name is jillambrose726


  12. This sounds fascinating and addictive. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with a (possible? probable?) transition phase from Facebok to Google+. I’d really, really, appreciate an invite, though, if anybody’s got on to spare. The first part of my email is “katurdays.” Thank you kindly!

  13. Been a lurker on this site for a long time but the promise of this invite made me sign up this morning…. lol. rebecca.olsen82 is the gmail address, please… now that I’ve signed up officially on this site, I have a feeling this is going to be baaaad. :)

  14. If you have invites left to give, I’d love to get one for the queer community center I work for: lgbtqcommunitycenter@. We’ve got a new volunteer to work on our social networks, and it would be awesome to have a presence on G+.

    Thank you! :]

  15. YAY GOOGLE+. I’ve been trying to get an invite for a while now and then finally got one from a bromo and then I see this post. Gays deliver SO HARD.

    PS. I can’t tell who’s already gotten invites and who hasn’t so if you still want an invite, contact meee at aucoeurngo at g mail dot com!

  16. Working at at a giant retail store for a giant, hip, named-after-a-fruit-company-that-will-fire-me-if-I-talk-about-it-online makes me hate technology and people and nice things in general. I cannot go to work or check my email or read anything on Twitter/Facebook without hearing about the technorgasm that is Google+. I automatically hate Google+. But then I read your review and maybe I don’t hate it? I just…I can’t even think about more social networking right now.

    Someone tell me what to think so I don’t have to, damnit.

  17. i already love it more than facebook. you don’t have to choose male OR female! (sure, the other option is “other” but still, better than facebook). And you can choose “in a civil union” or “in a domestic partnership” and “open relationship” for your relationship status!

    and holy shit there’s a “bragging rights” section. I’m officially in love.

  18. So obsessed with google+, I only have 12 people and it’s still fun, so I think that automatically beats all other social networking things?

    The Android App is amazing too, so simple. Love huddle so much.

  19. REALLY like Google+

    The “Circles” concept.. (quite possibly brought to you by Papi) is awesome and since I always have some sort of event going on, I am excited to try out the invites too..

    Hit me up at msjenncity !

    Word Life,