If there is one thing that Google+ has been able to accomplish, it’s been letting the rest of the world get to know Google a little bit better.
There has been plenty of discussion around whether or not Google+ will become the next big thing in social networks. Will it catch Twitter? Facebook? Time will tell, but it has been growing rapidly. The latest numbers from comScore have it at 25 million unique visitors in a months, and Google just gave users an invite link, which they can post anywhere on the web (including the Facebook News Feed) to recruit new users. Each link is good for 150 invites.
In the early days of the service, many Googlers have been very active. They have to be. How can you push your social network and hope for it to dominate the world if your own staff isn’t actively using it. Sure, Google staff is still active on other networks. The other day, Google’s Matt Cutts made an announcement on Twitter without mentioning it on Google+ for example (I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. Just an observation). But he’s still been quite active on Google+ and so are many of his co-workers. I believe the number of Googlers using the service is in the thousands.
Googlers are using the service for every day social networking activities from sharing links to sharing animated gifs and cat videos. They’re also using it to discuss business and various company announcements. They’re using it to announce new feature of Google+. I find this aspect interesting in particular – mostly because they’re using it to actually announce the features, not just share a link to an announcement from an official blog post. They’re not even making official blog posts. In fact, there isn’t even an official Google+ blog, which is interesting in itself, given that Google has so many official blogs.
Google does have the “What’s new in Google+” site, but that is simply a collection of Google+ posts from various Googlers where they revealed new features.
Many of Google’s announcements for Google+ are accompanied by videos of various product managers and engineers discussing the new features. Googlers also spend a lot of time communicating with users through comments on their posts, the Hangouts group video chat feature, by sharing Google Docs documents, etc.
Here are a few recent videos Googlers have shared:
The point is that Google+ has made Google appear more accessible to users. Sure, they’ve always had various ways for users to communicate with them – blog posts comments, Google Groups, etc. But never before has it really felt so much like you’re having a real conversation with a Google engineer (or engineers) face to face in a way that you feel like you’re helping contribute to the future of a major product.
With all of the videos and Hangout sessions, it’s simply giving the company a more human feel (despite the fact that they’re making robot cars – though to be fair, Google did blame the recent self-driving car accident on a human driver, so there’s that too).
If you, as a user, wish to have a closer connection with the people behind some of the products you use every single day, you can make create a circle of Googlers, keep up with what they’re working on, and participate in the conversation. You can contribute your ideas. They may not always take your advice, but they’ve made it pretty cleat that they’re listening to users’ ideas. It will be interesting to see if this kind of dialogue continues indefinitely as Google+ continues to grow.