How Do You “Talk” Online?


How Do You “Talk” Online?

I have to admit – I’m a Gchat junkie. Gchat, the nickname for Google’s popular Google Talk platform, is used relatively widely. So when the company updated to Google+ Hangouts many people either refused to make the change or didn’t realize that they were able to update (and some would say upgrade) to Hangouts.

Gchat and Hangouts are just the most recent incarnation of chat applications that are offered. There’s AOL Instant Messenger, which is one of the very first chat clients; Microsoft, who offers a chat through its Hotmail client; Jabber, which many big companies use as an internal chat option; and of course, Facebook chat, which continues to grow in popularity. With so many people using the Internet as a primary communication tool, it’s no wonder that there are a plethora of chat options to choose from.

Let’s explore some chat options:

Google+ Hangouts (formerly known as Gchat or Google Talk)

I have to admit that after reading this article I made the switch from Gchat to Hangouts. Google+ Hangouts now offers you the option to share photos and emoticons through the chat client. It now also offers an app for Hangouts, while before you had to resort to aftermarket apps to get mobile access to the Google chat client.

Facebook Chat

While the ability to chat within Facebook still has a bit of a rudimentary look, it’s very popular with Facebook users. Personally, I don’t like that it treats chat messages like actual private messages. You can also get caught up in a chat/message chain that seems to go on forever. But having the ability to talk with people that you normally communicate with through status updates is nice. You can keep some conversations off of your Facebook page and not in the so-called public record.

Windows Live Messenger

I think that Windows messenger looks like a hybrid of Google Talk and what AIM used to look like. It has many of the same capabilities. If you have contacts who primarily use Hotmail or Outlook, choosing to use Windows messenger regularly may be a good thing for you.


Many companies use this free chat client to connect people within their office and improve their business communication. It’s a pretty basic chat but it does have many, many emoticons to choose from, which is fun.

So how do you talk online? I’m curious to hear which of the chat clients that I’ve listed is the most popular. Any pros and cons for each on that I didn’t list?

(Photo Source)

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Google+ Communities: The Great, the bad, and why you need to Join

In case you missed it, Google+ Communities launched about 48 hours ago.

It’s Google’s answer to Facebook Groups.  That new car The Photo Community - Google Plus smell jumps off the screen, but this is more than another shiny toy.

I caught the post Thursday on the Google’s Official Blog that Google+ Communities were being rolled out.  They showed some public community examples including The Audi Community, Star Wars, and The Photo Community (led by Trey Ratcliff).  The Photo Community has over 14,000 members already if you’re keeping score at home.

Later that evening it became apparent that Google+ users could create their own community.  Hmmm, should I do this?  What the heck, let’s give this a shot, and the Blog Community was born.  Come join if you’re interested in blogging and making connections.

The Great

The People – While the core of Facebook is friends and family, the active Google Plus user has more of an interest in industry and hobbies.  While Photography, Technology, and Social Media are some of the favorites, there is a wide array of topics that have a passionate following outside of the communities.

Categories – So you’re not relegated to one long stream of dialogue and content as is the case with Facebook.  The Google + Communities have categories which basically create communities within the community.  Below is an example of some of the categories from The Photo Community.  As you can see there are many categories that are included in photography.  This allows the member to hone in on a specific aspect of photography.  This is powerful.  Whatever your community of choice, you’ll find a layer that should no doubt keep your interest.

Categories - Google + Communities

Diverse Communities – Only two days in and there is no shortage of community topics.  There is something for everyone from Photography to Nuclear Energy.  Here are few to check out that look like they’re cooking already.

The Photo Community

deviantART Community

Real Estate


Makers, Hackers, Artists & Engineers

Friendly Interface and Search – The Google+ Community interface and search really makes it easy for you to take a look at a community before joining.  The overwhelming majority of communities are set at public, so the door is wide open.

Community Search on Google +

The Bad

Well it’s not all peaches and cream!  Google has a good reputation of digesting user feedback and making adjustments to create a better experience.  It’s a little tough to be overly critical after only two days, but here are two flaws of the Communities that have been discussed widely on Google+.

Currently if you post on a public community that post will also be shown under your profile.  This can create confusion especially if you are posting consistently in several communities.  It can make your profile messy fast.  Google has to allow users in communities to choose if they want their post shared to just the community or to specific circles in addition.  There is no choice right now.

If you are creating a community, choose very carefully if you want to it be public or private.  There is no turning back.  Unfortunately, if the need arises to change from one setting to another you’re out of luck.  If you wanted to go from public to private you would need to delete the group and start over.  That is a problem.

Why you need to Join

Ground Floor on Large Network – Communities are fresh out of the oven, and a great time for you to create your own community of interest. It’s unbelievably simple to start your own community.  Be one of the first to start a community in your niche, and build it up.

Make new Connections – The active users on Google Plus are generally not the same active users from Facebook.  Most pick one or the other to spend the brunt of their social media time.  This gives you the opportunity to make new connections in a whole new environment.

Many of us have made our strongest online connections in Facebook groups, and I have a few that are still of great value.  However, Google+ Communities looks like it has the makings to be a special place, and I highly suggest you give it a shot.


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