Guy Kawasaki Wants You To Love Google+ As Much As He Does

    November 18, 2012
    Chris Crum
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If you follow the social media industry, you probably know who Guy Kawasaki is. Just in case you’re not familiar with him, he used to be the chief evangelist of Apple. He’s the co-founder of Alltop.com and Holy Kaw, and the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. What the Plus! (Google+ for the Rest of Us) version 2.0 was recently released by McGraw Hill, and after reading the book, we decided to pick Kawasaki’s brain about some of the points he makes in it, and about social media in general.

To listen to Kawasaki talk, you would think Google+ is the best social media experience one can have on the Internet. I’m guessing some of you have a different opinion. Let us know what you think in the comments.

The Steve Jobs Google+ Analogy

In the Book, Kawasaki says that Google brings power to Google+ “roughly equal” to Apple having Steve Jobs as CEO. When we attended BlogWorld last year, we sat in on a discussion between Kawasaki and Chris Brogan, in which he expressed similar sentiments. At that time, he said, “I think Google+ is to Facebook what Mac is to Windows.”

We asked him about the general response he gets from people when he makes such an analogy, whether or not people agree, and if those who are not on Google+ actually believe it.

“I haven’t much response to this comment at all,” he tells us. “I think the analogy is flattering to both parties. To think that one person could equal the force of all of Google. And to think that Google could equal the force of Steve Jobs. No one picked up on the cleverness of my analogy.”

In the afterword of the book, Kawasaki says he wants people to love Google+ as much as he wanted people to love the Macintosh. When asked why he cares so much, he says, “This is because of my Apple DNA: I want people to use the best tool for the job so that they can become more creative and productive. I can’t stand sub-optimization. To this day, when I see someone firing up a black, plastic, thick, ugly laptop, a little piece of me dies.”

Can Google Reach Twitter’s Level For Real Time?

Kawasaki says in the book that “Twitter is for real-time perceptions”. It seems that Google is really lacking access to this kind of info since it lost the Twitter firehose for realtime search results. The company has even indicated in the past that it could bring back the feature with Google+ data (along with data from other sources). So far, it doesn’t seem like Google has done a great job on that front.

We asked Kawasaki if he thinks Google+ can get to where Twitter is for “real-time perceptions”.

“I don’t see it happening soon nor is it clear to me that this is Google’s goal,” he tells us. “The sweet spot of Google+ is posts that are more cogent than ‘My cat rolled over’ or ‘Obama sucks.’ Real-time perceptions and thoughtful composition are inherent opposites. A social-media site can’t be both. If I just wanted to blast out 140-character messages without embedded photos or video, I already know where to go.”

Yet, that’s kind of what I’m getting at. You go to Twitter, and it’s hard for Google to accomplish its mission of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible when it can’t provide real-time updates when they’re at their most relevant. Google risks pushing people away to Twitter.

Pictures, Pinterest And Google+

In the book, Kawasaki also says that “Pinterest is for pictures.” Google has been, without a doubt, pushing Google+ for photography, and photographers have certainly flocked to it.

Kawasaki says, “Pinterest is the Twitter of pictures since Twitter doesn’t display pictures well. In that sense, Pinterest is about real-time perceptions such as ‘This dress is cool.’ There’s not the expectation that a Pinterest post is ‘crafted,’ and there’s not much discussion of a pin. Also, most pictures on Pinterest are not pictures that a person took. Google+ is where photographers post their own pictures and hope for a discussion. There’s no right or wrong in this—the two sites serve different purposes.”

Posting For The Public

Kawasaki says, in the book, that he uses the public option 99.9% of the time when sharing posts on Google+. This is interesting, considering that the Circles concept of sharing (choosing easily with whom you share any given post) has always been one of the main selling points for Google+. In fact, it even inspired a similar feature from chief rival Facebook soon after Google+ was launched.

“You have to understand that I approach social media as a means to an end,” Kawaski tells WebProNews. “The end is building a platform. Not everyone is interested in building a platform, so public posts 99.9 percent of the time isn’t relevant for everyone. Literally the only time I don’t post to the public is when I post to a circle of just me. I do this to mark articles that I will come back to and post publicly.”

Inspiration for Curation

There’s an interesting section in Kawasaki’s book about content curation. Where to look for good content to share. He names: people you follow, StumbleUpon, SmartBrief, Pinterest, Alltop and Holy Kaw (he’s the co-founder of both), The Big Picture and In Focus, NPR, TED, Futurity and specialized search engines. We asked specifically about StumbleUpon, which it turns out he doesn’t find all that useful for his own purposes (though there is clearly plenty there for others).

“I primarily use Alltop.com to find things to post,” he says. “Specifically, Autos.alltop, NPR.alltop, Science.alltop, and my customized page. StumbleUpon is a good source, but I scan hundreds of stories every day to find five to ten to post. The one-at-a-time nature of StumbleUpon isn’t well suited to my methodology.”

Google+ Integration Into Search Results

With Search Plus Your World, Google began heavily integrating Google+ into its search results. Many find this integration to be bothersome, while others find it extremely useful. It stands to reason that if you have a lot of social connections (and meaningful ones in particular), the results are likely to be better.

“I do believe it’s made the search results better for many people because it brings in the factor of what people you know have said about a subject,” Kawasaki tells us. “However, the nature of my searches is totally factual because when I search, I’m usually fact-finding or fact-checking for my writing.”

Would People Really Find A Facebook Search Engine Useful?

In the book, Kawasaki says it’s going to be a long time before people use Twitter or Facebook as a search engine. Personally, I already use Twitter as a search engine fairly frequently, though my job calls for it, so I’m not a good example of the average person in that regard. Still, Twitter is certainly not my primary search engine by any stretch of the imagination. Facebook has indicated recently that it is working on a search offering of some kind. We asked Kawasaki if he thinks Facebook can put together a significant search offering.

His response was: “One never knows, but in my fact-checking and fact-finding behavior, I can’t imagine going to Facebook to find out the phone number for the market in Menlo Park where I need to order a turkey or the number of Spanish speaking people in the world for my research about whether it’s worth translating a book into other languages.”

Quanity vs. Quality In Social Media Followers

in What the Plus!, Kawasaki recomends that people ignore the experts who say quality is more important than quantity.

“Again, I have a specific goal for using social media: building a platform,” he tells WebProNews. “Not everyone has this goal although there are only two kinds of people who use social media: those who want more followers and those who are lying. So for me, the more followers the better.”

“I also believe that when you ask your followers for help, the more followers the better,” he adds. “For example, I needed an example of an author who wrote a book purely for the challenge, not to make money, express himself, etc, etc. Someone pointed out Gadsby, a novel that contains no words with the letter E. If I had 500 followers, I doubt that someone would have pointed Gadsby out to me.”

So, can you follow too many people?

“Sure you can,” he says. “I hear about people following 5,000 people. I have no idea how that would work.”

The Google+ Share Button Vs. The +1 Button

In the book, he talks about both the Google+ share button and the +1 button. When asked about advantages of the share button over the +1 button, and if there is any reason to use both, Kawasaki tells us, “The +1 button is a little bit of voodoo to me. I don’t really understand the impact of a +1. There’s no doubt, however, that I would love people to share my content more than the vague value of a +1. This is because when people share one of your pages or posts, you know you’ll get more readers. It’s not clear what a +1 will do.”

+1s have been around longer than Google+ itself. They’ve always been a way to tell Google (the search engine) that you find a piece of content to be good enough to be considered a worthy search result, whether you’re actually on the search results page or on the content page itself. While, there are social search-related ramifications of having +1s on your content, Google’s Matt Cutts recently indicated that they have no direct effect on rankings. Of course, that could change one day.

Either way, the +1 button does come with the built in ability to share a post to Google+. However, the call to action of the share button might resonate with audiences more when they simply want to share your content, and aren’t even thinking about search results. Let’s be honest. People are not sitting around thinking about recommending your content in search. They’re thinking about recommending it to their friends or followers (provided you’ve given them something worth sharing).

Sharing To Google+ From Facebook And Twitter

Towards the end of What the Plus!, Kawasaki notes that there isn’t a way for most people to share from Facebook or Twitter to Google+ because Google has not opened up Google+ to accept cross-posts from other services. This seems to conflict with the “open” attitude Google ordinarily tries to convey with its products.

When asked about it, Kawasaki says, “If God said to me, ‘Guy, you can have three wishes,’ one wish would be for the ability to post to Google+ from outside Google+.”

This guy really loves Google+.

“The closest thing to this right now is a Chrome extension called Do Share,” he adds. “But it requires that Chrome is running at the time of a scheduled post.”

“I think that Google is being cautious about spammers using external apps to overwhelm people,” he says. “Do you see how good Google is at killing spam right now? If they can figure out how to do this, they can figure out how to prevent abuse of external posting.”

The Social Spine

Google has, on more than one occasion, referenced Google+ as two separate parts: the social destination (plus.google.com, where you see your circles, stream, etc.) and the social spine (the social layer that is spread across Google’s various products).

Google has, of course, been integrating the social spine into many of its products in numerous ways. There’s no sign that the rate at which this is happening will decrease. For example, they just added some new social features to Google Shopping.

We asked Kawasaki if there are any particular integrations that have not happened yet that he would like to see.

“It’s more than enough integrated for my purposes,” he says. “Other than the external posting issue, I’m essentially completely happy with Google+.”

Like I said, this guy really loves Google+.

Do you agree with Guy’s analyses of all of these different elements of the social web as we know it? Feel free to chime in with your own response to any of the questions we asked in this article.

  • http://truewebpresence.com Steve

    I’m finding that I spend just as much time on Google+ as I do on Facebook. The layout is easier on the eyes, and it has hash tags! 😉

  • http://smeaks.com/ Laurence Smith

    I really like Google+ but it doesn’t seem to be well loved and the engagement seems low to me. Lots of members but poor activity. Particularly in one of my areas, music. I think with the might of Google behind it it may well gain traction so I am sticking with it. It’s tough competing with Facebook but I personally am hopeful.

  • http://www.sharanyan.com Sharanyan Sharma

    Guy Kawasaki is one of my Top Influencer, he is right about Google +! of course, Google+ is a Viral Traffic generating Social Platform and also passing social media value for webpages.


  • http://www.nigeriansreport.com/ Orikinla Osinachi

    Google Plus is better than Facebook.
    Facebook is full of junk and junkies.

  • Peter

    “If God said to me, ‘Guy, you can have three wishes,’ one wish would be for the ability to post to Google+ from outside Google+.”

    Seriously? How can anyone say such a dumb thing?

    Although Google will never admit it, Google+ is dead. It did generate some interest last year but most people who initally got hooked stopped posting a long time ago. The site has no purpose at all, it’s a wasteland of greedy social marketers trying to get followers without giving anything back. No wonder there’s no engagement at all.

  • http://www.BeijingDiscoveryTours.com Jeff Cheap

    And why is this Kawasaki guy famous exactly? Other than his last name = motorcycles, who gives a rat’s ass what he thinks?

    • Social Media skeptic

      Amen. Another guru whose credentials are ‘i’m famous because i’m famous…so trust me.”

  • http://www.h4hitech.com sapna

    I think Guy is perfect person to judge that and he is right that Google+ is going there to rock.

  • http://www.pardaphash.com/ Nitish Kapoor Bureau Newdelhi


  • http://www.pardaphash.com/ Nitish Kapoor Bureau Newdelhi

    i love it

  • http://www.go-freeads.org/ Grey Olltwit

    Kawasaki doesn’t love Google+ he just wants people to buy his book

    • http://www.NaturalDogTraining.INFO Paul Anderson

      Smart oltwit!

  • http://theantiagingsystems.com/ Mike

    Great comment on Alltop.com…the worlds largest curation tool/RSS aggregator

  • http://eventrepublic.dk/da/ Fred

    I do agree with you on many points discussed above about Google+ and I also would like to see external posting being made available sooner. I prefer Google+ more than FB, because on FB more than 50% content is junk to me.

    • Peter

      There’s a button on Facebook that you can use to mute people and it’s actually much easier to filter content than on Google+ where it takes several seconds to get rid of somebody from your stream. :)

  • http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com Mike Budd

    Dear Chris,

    Is it a typo here?

    “Google’s Matt Cutts recently indicated that they have now direct effect on rankings.”

    Did you mean NO direct effect?

    Cheers, Mike

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      Sigh. Yes. Should be “no”.

  • http://www.tipsinablog.com Danny

    I thought he was the “Guy ” behind the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad”!

    Okay, back on topic…I see a lot of positives with Google + over Facebook, etc…

    Also, just as has been mentioned in the article, G+ Threads(per topic post/conversion) are ranking near the top of search results, in some cases…

    One thing that has changed my view a little with G+….at first I thought it was a much more professional offering than Facebook, twitter, etc…though, I have seen some threads(in my niche) that ramble on about tabloid scoops(which could eventually make it just another Facebook or twitter)….or, was that the intention of G+?

  • Richard

    No. I don’t know who Guy Kawasaki is. And no, I don’t like google+. I don’t twitter. I don’t care much for facebook. And I find google as a whole very annoying taking every opportunity to try to take over my computer and my homepage. The sun is shining. I’m going outside. Techno-losers.

  • http://ukritic.com ChrisR

    I see it as more of a crossover between LinkedIn and Facebook, simply because the only people really taking to G+ are the marketing crowd and businesses in general.

    For obvious reasons.

    But for the mainstream, I’m sorry, but there’s just nowhere near enough user engagement for G+ to make a serious dent in FB’s marketshare.

    In other words – you need a crowd if you want a party

    IMO G+ will eventually find itself in the graveyard, along with all of Google’s other ideas that don’t directly relate to Search, with Gmail as the sole exception.


  • http://www.MichaelDesignCompany.com Michael Ladd

    I think Guy is perfect person to judge that and he is right that Google+ is going there to rock.

  • http://bilaunwan.wpurdu.com Muhammad Asad

    Well, worth reading article but I still believe that Google have to work really hard to take much attention then Facebook currently have. After their several failed attempts into social media like Google Buzz and Google Wave, its really tough for Google to revamp its image in SM industry.

  • http://someplus.com Richard Ng

    I am Social Media Enthusiast and yes, I know who Guy Kawasaki is. I liked his curation in Google+.

    If you ask me, Google+ is still long way to go to reach the level of Facebook and Twitter. Having said that, Social Media industry is huge enough to accommodation a few big players. I always involved in multiple social networking platforms.


  • Tag A. Long

    I think Guy needs to get out more often.

  • http://karras-bommer.blogspot.com Karras Bommer

    Wow, based on the hostility in a lot of these comments I can understand why they don’t like Google+ Bluntly, Google+ has a more intelligent, more sophisticated user base than Facebook.

  • http://www.gauraw.com Kumar Gauraw

    I like Google+ and in fact, it’s a need for every marketer because it has a positive impact on your Google search results representation.

    It is a good social networking website plus it adds to search engine help!