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.