"If we can all laugh together, so many things are possible," George Takei tells me.
Indeed, amidst all of the varied uses of social media - the real-time sharing of information, connecting with strangers, stalking your ex - one seems to stand alone at the top: Sharing content that generates a smile.
George Takei seems to understand this, and his social media strategy is weighted heavily toward what we would call "funny pictures" or memes. Couple that with the occasional quip, user poll, and adept social commentary and you have one of the most influential, highly shareable social media superstars around today.
Do you think that celebrity power users could give Google+ a boost? Would you be more apt to spend more time there if the likes of George Takei were posting a large amount of content? Let us know in the comments.
I mean, I'm pretty sure it's impossible to be an active member of Facebook and avoid George Takei's presence somewhere on your News Feed - his content is everywhere. That's just what happens when you have 2.1 million likes and an enviable share rate to go along with it. For instance, this post from May 21st current has over 57,000 likes, 3,700 comments, and most importantly, nearly 32,000 shares.
That's engagement. And it's enough engagement to undoubtedly label Mr. Takei a Facebook power user. His Twitter presence is markedly less impressive, but he still commands nearly 400,000 followers. And he's also pushing in on the Pinterest market with over 60,000 people following his boards. Am I missing anything here?
Google+, of course. Until earlier this week, Takei had yet to devote any time to one of the new kids on the block. He hadn't even created an account. That miffed a handful of Google+ power users, who launched their own little campaign to bring Takei's star power to their neck of the woods.
After throwing the idea out there and coordinating an assault on Takei's Twitter account, the plan culminated in #TakeiTuesday on Google+, which wound up trending near the top all day long.
All right all. It's here. It's #TakeiTuesday ! Help us get @GeorgeTakei to join us over here on G+!!!!
Send him a Tweet and let him see all the G+ love we have to offer!
I don't know about you, but I'd love to see #GeorgeTakei join us here on G+. Just putting the word out there that I'm on a mission to get his attention. I was thinking that on #TakeiTuesday it might be a nice time to try to reach him on Twitter @GeorgeTakei to show him how much love he'd see from this community.
All right my Trekkers, who's in?
The push to add Takei to the Google+ community grew out of his vocal frustrations (and honestly, a bit of confustion) regarding Facebook's new Promoted Posts feature for pages. In short, page owners can now pay to highlight certain posts with the promise that they will reach a larger percentage of their audience.
Takei posted to Facebook:
FB used to allow fans to elect to see ALL posts by selecting 'All Updates' from the right hand corner of a post. For community pages such as this, though, FB recently decided that only certain fans will see certain posts, and it plans to ask me to pay for more fan views.I understand that FB has to make money, especially now that it is public, but in my view this development turns the notion of "fans" on its head. So I encourage all friends and fans to visit my page regularly to make sure they share in all the fun.
In a later post, he allowed a Facebook employee to clear things up a bit by explaining that a page's posts are never reaching 100% of their audience. In reality, the number is actually closer to 9% on average.
"I don't have any problem with the notion that my posts don't reach all my fans with each attempt, that seems like a necessary limitation. And in theory I don't have any problem with Facebook asking pages to pay to reach more fans than the page normally would reach," says Takei.
But he tells me that he doesn't really see himself paying to promote posts in the future.
"If the fans are truly interested, they can visit my page," he says. "However, if other pages want to promote commercial opportunities, I can see how it might make sense for them to pay for a greater reach in those instances."
Nevertheless, the Google+ activists pounced on this slight jab at Facebook and used it to spur on the "bring Takei to Google+" effort. And it worked.
Well, kind of.
He did cave in, and a verified George Takei Google+ profile popped up - with a caveat. Here's what he said on his Facebook page:
Fans on google+ started #TakeiTuesday that trended to #2 yesterday. My twitter feed was awash with it! So, I’m negotiating with Brad over whether I’ve the time to establish a new base on google+ in addition to my FB, Twitter and Pinterest. In the meantime, I’ve got a little pied-à-terre there now. Brad said if we get 250K fans to “circle” me (did I say that right?) it might be worth populating the profile with content. So, we’ll see.
He also said that getting 250,000 people to circle him would prove the Google+ isn't a ghost town (we've heard that analogy before).
"I had heard anecdotally that nobody was using Google+, but then I kept getting messages, tweets and wall posts from fans who were insistent that I join. So I made a deal with Brad that I would pay more attention to that if there were some real numbers of fans who wanted me there," he says.
But curiosity won out.
"I posted a copy of a fun image--a Jeopardy answer to which the question was 'Who is George Takei.' I was tickled that the game show had included me, and a fan had sent a screen shot to me, so I thought, well, this would be a good starter to see how fans there respond. Within minutes we hit the maximum number of comments (500)," he says.
Indeed, with barely 1/6 of his self-imposed 250,000 follower requirement, he posted this:
My good name is in Jeopardy...
As you can see, it turned out to be a pretty popular piece of content, garnering over 5600 +1s and 716 shares. His next (and currently only other) post did even better - 8460 +1s and 2677 shares. Both of his posts hit the max comment limit of 500, something he's a bit perplexed about (Facebook has no such limit):
"I'm still a bit puzzled by the cap that Google+ sets on comments, but perhaps that makes my job a bit easier in reviewing fan commentary," he says.
So, what does he think about the Google+ experience so far?
"I actually know very little yet, except that in the few days I have been on, the fans seem to be a more die-hard, committed bunch. I'm still trying to figure out circles, including whom to include in which."
I also asked him about one of the more popular Google+ features.
"I'm not quite at the 'hangout' phase, but I imagine that might be good for communicating remotely with friends. I'm not prepared for a public hangout yet with fans on line!"
Google+'s "die-hard" community has to hope that Mr. Takei likes what he sees and decides to stick around. In the beginning, Google openly courted celebrities to use the service and they were pretty successful at snagging a few big names. If social media power users like Takei bring their popularity and share-ability to Google+, it could help kill the notion that Google+ is just a highly specialized network for Google employees, techies, and Robert Scoble.
The push to evangelize Takei and the subsequent flurry of engagement shows that he would be quite the star on Google+. For his part, Takei is still a big fan of Facebook.
"Facebook is still my preferred platform because it permits a community to address a subject matter together--warts, trolls and all," he says. "That is part of what free speech enables, a mixing and mashing in the marketplace of ideas."
"[T]hat is what I enjoy most about being on-line: an opportunity to interact with fans on an intellectual level that isn't always possible in the crush of public appearances. I also very much love the chance for fans to laugh and share together, as it establishes a commonality among us, even though we all come from so many different walks of life."
George Takei has been able to find those opportunities on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Google+ users are now hoping he has room for just one more social network.
What's your favorite part about social media? What do you think Google+ does better than Facebook? And vice versa? Let us know in the comments.