Google: Plus or Minus?

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Many folks have reviewed Google+. Certainly the launch went well with pundits acknowledging the significant improvement over past Google efforts and the serious competition it may offer Facebook. However, while Google+ adds to the game, it subtracts from the dwindling pool of time dedicated to social networks.

If you have the opportunity, it’s worth a try. The Circles add a new depth of privacy, the network design is simple and elegant with strong integration into the larger Google universe, and the Android mobile app is stellar. The question becomes which online activities suffer as a result of experimenting with Google+.

Let’s face it. Unless you are an Internet personality, an organization with a full-time community manager or a professional online content publisher, there is not enough time to succeed in the multitude of social networks AND manage your own social content. Let’s consider the list of most used forms: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+ (assuming all continues to go well), LinkedIn, FourSquare, Gowalla, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and your own site.

This means choices will be made. Some will spread the peanut butter a little thinner, trying to make it stretch further. Others will simply focus on the networks that have the most impact on their community.

The latter method is the smart way for those who are seeking to create and sustain grassroots communities. Technology adoption should be driven by stakeholder usage, needs and wants. Long term players in social media demonstrated this axiom (see Netwits post) in their common best practices researched and discussed in Welcome to the Fifth Estate.

Social media is entering a period where certain communities and demographics will migrate to some networks in favor of others. The social network market place is already competitive on the second tier below Facebook. Google+ will add to that competitiveness. Organizations should choose the ones that make the most sense in relation to their mission.

2011 has already seen LinkedIn’s come uppance in the professional social network marketplace. Similarly, Pew studies continue to show Twitter is a strong social network for mobile and urban use, with a particularly strong hold in the African American and Latino markets.

Personally, it is a struggle to offer a strong presence in many networks at once. That means if Google+ maintains its momentum and continues to be enjoyable, then time spent on other networks will drop. There is really only time to do two or three networks well.

Facebook remains a core community. The rest really depends on clients, readers, and what tools they are using. Last month, that was Google (search & reader referrals), Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon, according to Google Analytics. LinkedIn and Tumblr were in the top twenty.Time will tell the impact Google+ makes.

What do you think of Google+?

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  • Gini Dietrich

    It’s been all of five days, but the cons outweigh the pros right now. I like that I can create Circles and ONLY see the posts of the people in those circles. But if I go to my home page, it’s worse than Facebook because it’s filled with updates from people I don’t know or follow. I also am having a hard time understanding how people I don’t know are adding me to Circles. Am I supposed to add them too? For a social network that is supposed to be private, I sure have more control of my friends on Facebook.

    • Anonymous

      Hmm, I’m not sure I agree. I find the Circles give me more control of my friends than Facebook so far.  For example, I can select which Circle can seen an update, and have already done this once with an inner circle (no pluses for me). Facebook on the other hand keeps changing the way my content is shared and how my lists are viewed, so I gave up on Facebook altogether, assuming that if you were on my Friends list you can see all, or would be able to at some time.

      • Gini Dietrich

        I agree that your Circles have a certain level of privacy that Facebook doesn’t offer. What I’m talking about is my home page stream….full of people who I’ve not invited in nor have in any Circles.

        • Anonymous

          Ah yes, A little Twitter redux…

        • Ike Pigott

          It’s the early phase, like Twitter had in 2007, where the errors will be on the side of discovering new people.

          • christammiller

            On the other hand, discovering new people is easier than it is with Twitter — with G+ I can immediately create a new circle for someone I don’t know, if they fit one of my interests — whether core or peripheral. That makes it easier to organize, which in turn will make it easier for me to curate content. On Twitter, everyone is getting something they may not be all that interested in; on G+, I can tailor content and thus (conceivably) make deeper connections. Twitter is still very random in that regard.

        • Ari Herzog

          If your default view at shows people not in your circles, it’s a bug I’ve seen a few people report. Click the “send feedback” button in the bottom right.

          For me, the pros outweigh the cons.

    • @keithprivette

      Yes Gini it is a little unweildy right now, but what isn’t when it first starts. To lessen the noise just take the “over noisers” out of a circle you have and they stop showing up.  I have set up circles and click on each one of them to see what is going on.  Yes control on FB is better. Which confuses me why this is more private???  It will be interesting where this all goes….will it be the divide like folks say “Nah I do more on twitter than facebook or I do more on facebook than twitter, my only network is linkedin”  Where does google+ fit into that sentence.  I do believe when the cross posting happens then we see the shift.  Also if I am using many google tools already that bar at the top is inviting.  To each his own. I do believe Brands have the toughest time. “Where do I go to engage, sell and promote my shit” — have to really think out your strategy and execution.   Oh ooops sorry Geoff this is your blog post….

      • Anonymous

        I just work here.  Glad to see the conversation!

      • Gini Dietrich

        I think what Google means when they say more private is they are opt in while Facebook is opt out. To them, that’s their privacy message that attacks their competition squarely and gets to the root of people’s issues with Facebook. 

  • Lynette Young

    It’s been a few years since a big social network has been unleashed online (we seem to get one every few years at this point). G+ right now is for testing, beta, playing, and geeks. Once it settles down the public will figure out where it fits in to their life/work. Right now the people that should be in here are those hardcore early adopters that bang the junk out of the system to find its flaws and strengths.
    Casual users of social media probably won’t get any benefit out of it, and will wind up spinning their wheels sucking time away from established connections.  If you can’t figure out how you are ‘supposed’ to use G+ and feel it should be better designed for your use – you are exactly the type of user that should not be in a closed beta release.  Just my geek opinion.

    • Anonymous

      Only time will tell, I suppose.

      • David Schlesinger

        What I see as the interesting part at this point is that Google+ is pretty squarely aimed at offering a similar experience to Facebook, which correcting some of the most irritating foibles of the site (oversharing, etc.)

        It also comes at a time when Facebook’s popularity with its own users is starting to look a bit shaky: the story came out last week that Facebook had made it into the top 10 “Most-Disliked American Companies”, and they beat out AT&T and Bank of America to do it.

        While I can’t really disagree with what you say, I see more fragility in these sites than you do, maybe. Consider: MySpace was the big site to beat in 2004-5, and it’s just sold for less than a dime on the dollar. It could happen to Facebook, as well, I reckon.

        • Anonymous

          I particularly think you are right when it comes to the mobile aspect. Facebook’s UI is a nightmare from a desktop standpoint, and translating it to mobile has been hit or miss at best. Google nailed the mobile experience pretty well out of the gate.  Very happy with Google+ on Android.

          • A.J. Lichlyter

            Now I’m ready to see Google+ on iOS!

  • John Haydon

    Geoff – My very early opinion of Google Plus is that it has huge potentail when you consider all of the other apps they can roll into the platform (Groups, Calendars, Docs), and how well they have prepared for mobile. At this stage, however, the only folks using Google Plus are early adopters. It may be a while (if ever) before an org’s constituants start using Google+ en mass.

    So for now, you’re right – orgs should focus on where the majority of their constituants are, which is probably Facebook.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, and it is clear that Google is bent on integrating it across the spectrum, too. I heard the price tag for Google+ is $600 million (minus a few).  This is going to be something to watch for sure, and it will be hard to fly against the momentum of everything else Google now that they have a viable product.

    • Ari Herzog

      Maybe your circles are full of early adopters, but a large number of people I know who are anything but an early adopter are using G+.

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  • Jamie Favreau

    I just want to know why we need another network?

    • Anonymous

      I think when you look at Facebook’s UI and craptastic mobile capabilities, as well as Twitter’s lack of threads, it becomes somewhat apparent. At least to me, this was welcome.

    • Anonymous

      To answer Geoff’s question, I’m not sure what I think yet. I’m just two
      days in and still trying to see where it fits in. Kind of like when I
      was considering buying an iPad and trying to figure out where it fits
      into my digital lineup.

      I just Googled “major social networking sites” and there’s well over 100 from to Zoopa. So I’m not sure where it fits in yet. There’s a lot of inbound and outbound noise out there and perhaps this makes it even louder. But as with anything, I’m going to try it on for size and see how I can best use it.


      • Ari Herzog

        Not knowing how “major social networking sites” is defined, there are closer to 1,000,000+ social networking sites.

  • Rick Rice

    I just cringe because I still talk with too many senior people in the corporate communications business who haven’t taken the time to get a basic understanding of the current set of tools. They’re either ignoring the potential or letting junior people go there without good strategies and supervision. 

    I’m no social media expert but I am certainly trying to understand what the tools can and can’t do. I do feel a bit of an advantage with + because I’m there at the beginning. That wasn’t the case with most of the other tools. I’ll just keep poking around and learning. It does seem much better than Buzz and Wave. Beyond that, time will tell.

    • Anonymous

      You are humble, my friend. But Google+ shows us again there are no experts, only legacies.  We are all in this together. I look forward to learning about this with you.

      • Rick Rice

        Thanks, Geoff, but I think I’m just being realistic. I’m keeping both the Beginner’s Mind and Attitude, No Attitude here. I’ve been doing this for 35 years and Social Media isn’t the first new communications thing in those decades. It is another tool to get the job I get paid for done. 

        Nothing is static in this business – never has been. Seriously, if I quit learning then I need to shut up and stop consulting. It isn’t the ‘brave new’ world some experts or ‘A Listers’ portray, but there are new tools. We just need to learn how to use them to get the job done.

  • Marjorie Clayman

    Hi Geoff,

    I’ve been ruining everyone’s fun by lamenting the apparent gender gap that Google+ is shining the spotlight on. I recall you lamenting a similar gender gap in the tech sector a few months ago – since a lot of the early adapters are in the tech sector, I guess it’s not surprising that most of the reviews coming out are by, well, men.

    I have gotten an invite but I am waiting for a month to see if it’s still as hot as it is now. I know that this makes me a less exciting Social Media person – that whole waiting thing means I’ll be behind – but I’m okay with that. If it’s still getting talked about this much and with a general haze of positivity, I’ll step on in :)

    • Anonymous

      Well, you should change that by adding your own review!  BTW, at least half of my Google+ network is women so… I am seeing a different picture. Hope you are doing well!

      • Marjorie Clayman

        Interesting. Experiences seem to vary across the board…I’m not in yet so I’m just looking at who is writing and talking about it, but a lot of people are saying that in their networks, there are twice as many men as women. Glad that’s not universal :)

  • Gabriella

    I have yet to try it, but I’d love to. I’ve heard tons of good reviews and obviously some negative ones, too. I still think it’s worth a try as is every product that Google comes out with. :)

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  • jaybaer

    I’m on record as writing that I think it could take a big bite out of the Facebook fan page world eventually (thank for the link Geoff, appreciated). For consumers, however, I think the growth in + will come at Twitter’s expense. To me, + today feels a lot like early Twitter, before it became too big, noisy, cumbersome, etc. Perhaps that won’t last, but by introducing circles now (instead of less elegant lists once critical mass had been achieved (Twitter)) Plus is making a play for an organized social environment. Ultimately, that’s the reason + becomes one of the 2-3 networks you’ll use daily. 

    • Anonymous

      I think you are right about Twitter. I am experiencing that already.  Did you see Google is no longer indexing Twitter, too?  Man, if Jobs hadn’t integrated into iOS 5 it would have been curtains for Jack and crew!

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