The other day I was reading through some of my Google+ circles, and came across this question on Pete Cashmore‘s profile, linking to a Mashable article with an infographic that explained why Google+ is supposedly a ghost town.
“As regular Google+ users, what are your thoughts on this infographic?”
This was my response.
Does laughter count as a response?
I don’t think comparing G+ to FB or LinkedIn or most other networks is fair, never mind smart. It’s a comparison of chicken wings to hamburgers, and everyone is going to have their preference, because it’s just not made up of the same meat. I don’t even think G+ should be called a social network, and it’s a mistake for Google to set it up as such.
Yeah, you’ll have to work a Little harder to find people here. But the depth of interaction here is so, so key. And frankly I hope that stays secret. 🙂
Anyway. If Google wants to dominate social, they should find a way to examine and amplify that aspect. For the same reason that I’d rather have 10 raving fans of a product than 100 people who are indifferent but see it as necessary.
Now, I’ve had my on and off disenchantment with Facebook, and there are days when I feel like I hate it. However, it’s just not a tool I would abandon, even if I believed I should let my personal feelings about a resource that brings me clients, free traffic, and helps me market my site at a low or zero monetary cost.
But taking business out of it for a minute, I can’t even say that my occasional beef with Facebook is entirely on them.
I know how to clean my stream of people with too many cat pictures or too little conversation.
All of that is to say, I’m no Facebook hater. I can’t even say I wholeheartedly love Google+, though there are things about it I enjoy.
But it’s something different. The depth of conversation there is not a feature to be overlooked. That’s where people bond, during those deep debates and long deep talks. And Google+ makes it a whole lot easier to go out and find new people to bond with than Facebook does.
It also is a better tool for long-winded in-depth conversation. Which is closer, to certain offline aspects of friendship. You might not yack incessantly all the time.
But you debate sports. Or discuss relationships.
To a lesser extent, that kind of conversation can happen online. And Google+ is a great way to facilitate it, in a safer, test environment, or with Google Hangouts, as the perfect solution to connections maintained over great distances.
And only if.
You stop looking it as the Other Facebook. Remember when it first came out, and they kept saying that they wanted to simulate the way friendship works in real life? I think if that was their mission, it makes more sense.
In the offline world, you don’t just request that people be your friends, and not have to do any more real work. Facebook is great at making existing friendships easier. But Google+ seems to be more about making them deeper, or making new friendships start off in a more meaningful way.
I’m not even sure it should be called a social network.
Yes there’s a social aspect.
Yes it brings people together in, of course, sub-networks.
But it’s not Facebook. It doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t have to be. If I worked on this project at Google, I’d have come up for a new name for what we were doing, not just a new tool. Something corny like a friend network.
My personal success with Google Plus has been to look at it as a place to build an entirely new audience. I’d say maybe 10% of the people who are linked to me there knew me outside Google Plus first.
That’s very powerful when you think about it. I think I have 4000 connections over there. 400, at BEST are people I knew from before I got there. So I expanded my audience by at least 3600 new ears, instead of duplicating the part of my market that was interested in me on Facebook, in Twitter or in my newsletter.
And that’s if they never share or +1 anything I do. Which they certainly are doing, on a regular basis.
I’ll share more about this another day, but you get the point.
Take the opportunity to grow an entirely different kind of network on Google+. Different people – heck, even a smaller niche of your current specialty. Cultivate it slowly, and make some deep, stronger connections to people.
Oh and stop worrying so much over the audience size. Facebook didn’t get to nearly a billion users in a year. Google+ shouldn’t have to just because they dominate the search market. It’s a different animal.
Sure, Google doesn’t quite “get” social, or they never would have killed the few programs they had that got close. But by now? You know social, at least a little.
So just be more social at Google+. Work for it just a bit more.
It’s worth it.
Flickr image courtesy of Trey Ratcliff