The Google+ Experiment (Part 1)

Background

Ever since Google started with social networks, I’ve been skeptical.  But Google+ seems to have more staying power than any of the previous attempts (e.g. dodgeball, wave, buzz). By taking an agile development approach, it allowed Google to release a product that was far from complete, but had enough functionality to make the product usable. This approach is called Minimum Viable Product. The challenge with this approach is that people came, saw, evaluated and left. Many of these people never looked back. I think Alan Lepofsky captured it well when he tweeted:

I tried to capture the frustration and issues with the platform in a couple of different blog posts. Why Google+ is a -1 for me and Why Google+ is not an Enterprise Social Network. I was among those people who decided that Google+ didn’t really fit into my already over crowded social landscape and turned my back on it. This was only amplified due to their delay in supporting Google Apps which I’ve been using for many years.

Giving Google+ another shot

It was this summer that I finally discovered a reason to re-think my Google+ strategy. It had to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I was attending Chuck Hall’s conference in Doylestown, PA SoMeBizLife where Lynette Young was talking about Google+. She was talking about rel=author and that’s when it clicked.

As a blog writer, one of the hardest things to do is to get your content read and discovered. By linking your blog content to you Google+ Profile, your profile picture would be displayed next to your content and that actually influences Google’s ranking in search results.

Very few people use search engines other than Google, so having your content be found there is important. The fact that very few people actually click “next” on Google means that page ranking is important. I won’t pretend to understand Google’s SEO model, but I feel confident that many of the social dynamics of Google+ play a part in that ranking.

Time for action

In the grand scheme of things, there are a couple of important things going on in the Social Networking world that were bothering me. As a result, I went back and tried to figure out what they were, and how could I take steps to maximize my investment of time on social networks.

The issues (my top 5)

  • Facebook’s business model and complexity of privacy will cause me to lose my ability to have control of MY information (either through user confusion or questionable marketing tactics)
  • Twitter’s desire to “own it all” by limiting 3rd party access
  • Lack of ability to have deep conversations on Twitter
  • Soccer Mom syndrome (where people don’t really share unless it paints some wonderful picture that may or may not exist)
  • Signal to noise ratio is so low that it’s difficult to find relevant info that is interesting.

With that in mind, I started to wonder if Google+ might actually help me resolve some of these issues and provide something that I felt was missing. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to re-evaluate the platform and determine where it is today vs. what it was around the time it launched. Last week, I took a break from Twitter and Facebook. I devoted much of my social media focus toward Google+. In my next post, I’ll share with you my impressions.

Here is: The Goolge+ Experiement (Part 2)

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