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Google+, Am I Forcing This Relationship?

A Facebook/Twitter kid grapples with the new girl in class

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Google+, Am I Forcing This Relationship?
[ Social Media]

I’ve been a member of Google+ for exactly three weeks today. It seems like only yesterday that I tentatively attempted a login that I was sure would fail, only to be welcomed into the selective arms of the hottest new social network on the block. What magnificent sorcery had allowed my passage? Great fortune? A glitch? Had my friend gamed the system by tagging me in a video, thus enabling my unexpected acceptance?

Not quite. Turns out Google had just opened it up for an hour or so and I got lucky. But the fact remains, I was one of the chosen.

Now, as more and more of my friends join and swear off Facebook for good, I find myself in a pensive mood.

Actually, I just came across something from a few days ago that got me thinking. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner made some comments about Google+, most of them dismissing the new social network as an unwanted addition to an already full party. Apparently, he thinks that there is no vacancy in the social media hotel.

“Nobody has any free time,” he said. Facebook is for friends, Twitter is for short messages and LinkedIn is for business. “Unlike social platforms and TV, which can coexist, you don’t see people using Twitter while they’re using Facebook, or using Facebook while they’re using LinkedIn.”

With all do respect to Mr. Weiner, that’s an atrocious load of crap.

I, for one, frequently use Facebook and Twitter. My tweets are cross posted on Facebook – so that I can receive feedback on both sites. Not only am I quite active in both Facebook and Twitter, but I’m trying to beef up my Google+ activity as well.

Although I believe that it is entirely possible for Google+ to coexist with the other social networks, Weiner’s comments got me thinking: Am I forcing it with Google+?

While posting to Facebook and Twitter feels so natural, an integral part of my daily life, am I trying too hard to integrate Google+ into that routine – knowing that it feels superfluous? I like Google+, in some ways more than Facebook. But for an early Facebook adopter (2004), can Google+ ever feel as natural?

That long-winded introduction brings me to this: a brief discussion of things I like and dislike about Google+, now that the initial firestorm has cleared.

I am still undecided about the entire circles concept.  When I first encountered them, I was optimistic.  I even mentioned that to me, circles felt like a natural, fluid way to categorize people in your life.  And I still believe that to some extent, but the sharing with circles is tedious in my opinion.  While I am well aware that this complaint is the ultimate #firstworldproblem, it bothers me nonetheless:  The practice of having to click multiple circles with which to share my posts is oftentimes a burden.

In a related note about circles, some people dominate my stream. Erick Schonfeld posted on Google+ today about how Robert Scoble posts so much that he needs his own circle. This is a solution for weeding out the super-noisy people who flood your stream.

The problem is that I find myself in the Facebook mindset where I want a comprehensive stream that includes all of my friends. I don’t want my collaborative Google+ stream to be missing anyone because I will rarely remember to click on their specific circle to view an entire separate stream of just their posts.

On a positive note, I’ve had a whole lot of fun naming my circles. It would be improper to go into the names of some of those circles, as they are a tad uncouth. But just know that I’ve been creative.

I like the Google+ interface. I think it is basic, clean and easy to navigate. This is so important when it comes to using it via the web. I am also a fan of the iPhone app that just dropped. Sure, it could be spiced up a little bit but the functionality is there.

I also love the ability to share actual text posts, not just videos or links that people post – like on Facebook. Being able to do this sparks interaction and promotes comments. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Facebook eventually allows this as well.

I’m not really using the Hangout or Sparks features. This is not to say that I don’t like the Hangouts. I think that they are simple, fun and a great option when you want to chat with multiple people at once. I also really dig that YouTube watching feature within Hangouts.

If you regularly use those features, this point doesn’t really apply. But for me (and I’m sure many others), I am using Google+ to post videos, links, and statuses. If that sounds familiar, that’s because that is exactly how everyone uses Facebook.

And as of right now, Google+ doesn’t do that any better than Facebook. So for a person using Google+ primarily for that reason, I find myself wondering why I should post to Google+ instead of Facebook. This might not be a conscious debate that I have in my head every time that I have something to share, but it does feel like my default still lies with Facebook and Twitter – to an overwhelming degree.

Sure, my experience with Google+ is still in its infancy, but I wonder: Am I already too connected with Facebook and Twitter? Could they ever cease to be my defaults?

Google+ has a long way to grow. It’s still in a beta test, remember? Once it truly integrates all over the other Google properties into the network, that might be a game changer. The world that Google+ might end up being best suited for is that of business (once business pages are completely hashed out).

Sure, Google+ can coexist with other social networks. But for many children of the Facebook revolution, can Google+ ever compete on the level of friend and family interaction?

[Lead Image Courtesy XKCD]

Google+, Am I Forcing This Relationship?
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  • http://ReturnOnNow.com Tommy Landry (@tommy_landry)

    I’m with you on most points Josh. After trying to like G+ on several occasions, I found that it’s interesting but I just don’t have the same passion for it that I had for the big 3 when I joined them. It feels more like work to set up and participate, and even though many of us are on there, it’s the social media guys who make the most noise.

    Once we have tools like HootSuite that allow cross posting like you do on FB and Twitter, maybe I’ll come around more. Until then, it’s not really a priority to me to spend time on Google+. All the hijinks with locking user accounts has just made the taste in my mouth a bit sour, as well, regardless of how they’ll change the policy now.

    Google simply doesn’t get social as they should. They’re making some of the same missteps we’ve seen on preceding sites (like the profile lockdown). I’d rather stick with someone much further along. Remember the quote – “If we don’t learn from past mistakes, we are doomed to relive them.”

  • Jack

    I think you are forcing yourself to do Facebook and Twitter.. let them go and you got the best one, Google+

  • http://www.incamacuscohostel.com/ Shomara

    Google simply doesn’t get social as they should.

  • http://www.whitneypannell.com Whitney Pannell

    Nice article Josh . I have found that G+ has distracted me from Twitter but not Facebook. Seems like a much more techie group on g+ than on Facebook.

  • http://www.truephotographyweddings.com Carlos

    I miss the days when there was only one social network I did not want to join!

  • http://www.at-home-businesses.com/ amihan23

    I still love Google…

  • India

    G + is DOA. Sorry my man Josh. You are in the minority. I agree with Jeff.

  • http://www.seo-first-page.com/seo-analysis.html seo analysis

    Google+ has a long way to grow.. still learning on G+… but your article is too much informative Josh.. thank you so much…

  • http://www.twitter.com/dougridley Doug Ridley

    I would say that I’m also a bit pensive when it comes to G+, because there is not one specific way it fits into the SM realm. I believe that it will at some point. More people will join, more people will learn, and a commonality will be shared among how people use it.

    What Google needs now is to show businesses the benefits of being on G+. This shouldn’t be too hard, seeing that they also control the largest search engine in the world. Let G+ benefit the businesses, and then see what happens.

  • http://www.nolimitpromo.com Jon Stodola

    Thanks for this insightful post, Josh. One thing that intrigues me about G+ is the video feature. Are we moving more towards digital face-to-face conversation and where else will this come into play? How about customer service or education. These are just the things that seem natural today.

    I couldn’t agree with you more about those who have grown up in the Facebook age, but let’s look beyond our actions of today. Would you have ever thought that you would be using Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis to communicate with friends, family members, clients and potential clients? I don’t think any of knew what kind of impact Facebook would have on our lives. The same is true with G+ and their more robust and integrated functionality. Just my 2-cents. Thx!

  • http://apps.facebook.com/chatrounds/ Rachel

    Ha, I’ve had the same sentiment, but I’m trying to come around. It just feels like I “ought” to like G+, but what can I say….The Hangout Youtube-watching feature is cool, but I’ve been doing that in the Chat Rounds app on Facebook for ages…and I’m just more used to doing it there.

  • http://www.quote-4.me.uk Matt

    I think facebook will eventually have a fight on it’s hands, as I’m sure G+ will interconnect with all the other google products that many people already have.

    Plus, I feel a lot more comfortable with google’s privacy policy than facebook‘s.

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