My First Touch with Google+
Let me be clear: I don’t work for Google, nor do I have any particular business relationship with them at the time of this writing. Google had nothing official to do with the making of this book; although, I most certainly asked Google+ team members for thoughts and ideas when it was at all possible.
Google+ became available as a limited “field trial” at the beginning of July 2011. I wasn’t given any kind of special access. (I know a few folks at Google, but it’s not like people shout, “I’ve gotta tell Chris Brogan about this!” when they invent something. I’m not that guy.) I just signed up when someone sent me an invite, and I started poking around the moment I had a chance.
What I noticed right away was that, because I was starting at zero, I had the chance to think through how I wanted to interact with this social network. I decided against connecting with everybody, and instead, I started to build small, tight circles of value. I grouped people by whether they represented a business value to me, a personal connection, or were people I wanted to follow to learn from. This process felt a bit like organizing books or a DVD collection, or like building playlists in iTunes. I say this in a positive way.
Right away, it was an addiction. I started “sneaking” Google+. If one of my kids ran off to play, I looked back in and started finding new people to connect with, seeking out people I knew at first, and then surfing their connections (I’ve coined this friendsurfing) to see who else I should follow.
What I liked was that I suddenly saw more interesting information because my circles were organized according to my interests. If Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land shared something about how search rankings were altered by Google+, I could read that, experiment with it, comment back and forth, and become informed. If Jacqueline Carly shared her daily “going to Yoga” photo, I could see that and wish her well.
In other words, because I could organize how the information came in to me at a granular level (if I wanted), I could interact in a more nuanced and interactive way and derive more value from the communication.
Later, when my kids were asleep, I’d get back on Google+ and look around. I logged a lot of hours inside Google+. I’d experiment with posting information. I’d share other interesting things I’d come across. In the early days of Google+, a lot of this sharing was information about Google+, such as, “Did you know that if you put an underscore around a word like _this_, it comes out looking like this?”
As time went on, people started opening up about what their passions were, inside and outside of work, and this drove even deeper connections of value. I say this as a business person, but also as someone who believes that relationship-minded business is far more valuable than transactional business. If you’re looking for “quick fix” sales and marketing methods, Google+ might not be the tool, but if you think there’s some value in fostering a community of interest, it works really well for that purpose.
This Sounds Like Other Social Networks
Does Google+ look and feel like other social networks? Yes and no. The closest “feel” to how this compares with other social networks is the way that Google+ allows you to connect with people of interest instead of simply with people you already know in some capacity. Unless you protect your tweets (meaning you’ve set the privacy such that people you’re not following can’t see what you’re saying), Twitter enables people to discover what you’re saying, either by learning about you via a retweet (when someone shares your original message) or by being found via a search.
Google+ does a lot to foster this kind of findability—this discoverable feeling. As you’re reading this, you might be thinking, “Facebook does this already.” You might say, “LinkedIn is much more businesslike.”
But it’s different. Google+ is more “open” than Facebook. It is more “deep” than Twitter. It’s more rounded than LinkedIn, in that it shows off your personal interests along side your business interests, depending on what you choose to share and post. And, as a business person and a marketer, I saw immediate value in what Google+ can do for your business.