Why Google+ will replace ice cream


in Ideas and Trends

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The Boy eating ice cream with two spoonsDisclosure: Post title is fatuous linkbait.

I was on vacation last week when Google+ happened. I kept my email inbox in pretty good shape when I was away, but when I returned I felt like I was a week behind on creating circles and +1′ing and learning all the new stuff. Some folks dove in head first. Chris Brogan, for instance, is all over Google+ and has even replaced his Facebook icon with a Google+ logo with the phrase, “I have moved,” and unless I’m missing something, he’s shut down his personal Facebook wall. He really has moved.

I’ve seen lots of useful how-to articles, and lots of posts from people pondering the significance of Google+ for social media in general, business in particular and, inevitably, whether or not Google+ will replace Facebook. That’s a big, thorny question. So I’m going to ignore it.

I’ve joined quite a few new social networks over the last decade and a half, starting with a (pre-WWW) forum on the old Delphi network (a competitor of AOL, Prodigy and CompuServe) called “The UK American Connection.” It consisted mostly of Yanks asking Brits questions like, “I watched Cracker last night. What the hell does ‘naff’ mean?”

I joined Friendster just in time for my girlfriend (now The Mrs) to tell me it was dead. I joined Twitter in May of 2008. I still remember the first person who followed me (former colleague Jeff Batte), and pondering my next follower, an American journalist living in Germany. I spent hours trying to work out how I knew him and why he would follow me.

My point, if there is one, is that I have yet to see a new social network take off as quickly as Google+. I’m sure there are statistics that either support or refute that, but for me it seems that my nerd friends (and I have created a circle for you called “Nerds”) are taking to Google+ extremely quickly. (Cynical Girl and Pixie of the Apocalypse Laurie Ruettimann linked on Facebook earlier today to a Mashable post that said Google+ was about to hit 10 million users, so as you can see, I’ve done my research.)

It takes me a while to work out how I feel about a new network or online tool, and I’m the kind of person the slow, dull-witted “how to” videos were created for. Unlike Brogan, who within minutes had written a post outlining 50 ways Google+ could be used, I have to be shown it, and shown it again. And again. Then I will become a violent convert.

So far I think Google+ has tremendous potential to unite messaging, photo sharing, video calling, chat, document sharing and other features. This may be the locus that brings the value of Google’s various services and applications into one place. But here’s why I think it’s gotten so popular so fast:

This morning I was flipping back and forth between Facebook and Google+. I have lots of good friends on Facebook, but also a lot of people I’ve accepted as friends who I don’t actually know, or know very well. I accepted some of those out of politeness, and I haven’t taken the time to hide or unfriend the people or companies who clutter up my stream. I scroll for a while before I come to an update from someone I really want to keep in touch with, or something I really want to read.

My Google+ stream, on the other hand, has been filled with interesting posts and long, enjoyable comment-thread discussions with clever people. It feels the way I’ve heard other people describe the early days of Twitter. Everyone I’ve added to my circles so far is someone who I know personally or have built an online relationship with.

So maybe we like Google+ so far because we haven’t cluttered it up yet, and because it’s easier to keep tidy? Time will tell. Just like Twitter, it will be months (years?) before we know the real value.

Should you join now? You don’t have to (and Doug Haslam has posted a cogent argument in favor of Google+ patience), but so far it’s fun. And if you’re a marketer or communicator, I suspect it will become mandatory before too long. Google’s previous attempts at social networking (Orkut, Buzz, Wave) didn’t take off, but Google+ is so much more than even the sum of all three.

image by me

  • jimdier

    Dave, where is the SHARE button for G+ on this article?

  • http://dbthomas.com/blog David B. Thomas

    GAH! I haven’t added +1 to my blog yet. What a maroon.

  • http://www.jondale.com Jon Dale

    Right :)

  • http://dbthomas.com/blog David B. Thomas

    Okay, there it is.

  • Kyle

    Haha. You just brought me back to Saturday mornings as a kid watching Bugs Bunny.

  • Andrea Zimmerman

    I love the “Acquaintance” circle for people who you like but don’t want to hear from constantly, or know of but don’t know personally.  And I love that I can choose what circles see what posts.  My twitter feed tends to be focused on SAS or healthy eating/cooking.  And most of my followers are interested in one of the other, but most don’t really care about both.  I can tell from the bio which aspect someone wants, but I know that with every post I’m boring half my followers.  With circles I can direct SAS info to SAS folks and leave even my husband out of it (he pretends he cares but I know it flies over his head) and I can direct other comments at other circles.  and I can even direct things at certain people.  Right now I have to forward tweets to my husband if it is something I think only he will find as humorous as I do (our sense of humor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea).  I’m really looking forward to more of my friends getting on G+.

  • http://dbthomas.com/blog David B. Thomas

    The circles really do make it easier and simpler, don’t they? I’ve created half a dozen in G+ and I suppose I could have done the same in Facebook, but never did. I have one circle called “Nice Folks I’ve Met Online,” for instance.

  • http://dbthomas.com/blog David B. Thomas

    Careful! A 2-ton weight might fall on your head now.

  • Eric Brekher

    Good read, I feel the same way. Therefore my thoughts are whether or not
    it’s worthy of spending the time on like we do Twitter/Facebook? Just
    to have it turn into the same nonsense status/thousand random followers
    kinda thing in a few months when we realize we’re updating 3 of
    essentially the same exact websites with the same people. I’m pretty
    content having my real friends on Facebook and my news/blogging sources
    (along with some friends) on Twitter; why must we keep being fed fun and interesting new things to waste time online with?!

  • http://dbthomas.com/blog David B. Thomas

    It really does feel like a new one comes along every few months, but I realize that I only really use Facebook and Twitter, with a small amount of LinkedIn. I’ve signed up for lots of others in the past year or three (Friendfeed, Quora, Formspring, Gowalla, etc.) but have pretty quickly figured out whether or not they were worth my time. I have yet to feel like I was missing anything in any of them, but I find I am now reflexively checking Google+ in the same rota with Twitter, Facebook and email. But you’re right, we’ll have to figure out whether it’s worth adding it to the list, or replacing something in favor of it.

  • http://squarejawmedia.com/ Brian McDonald

    It’s kinda like a new car. Awesome everytime you look at it and drive it during the first few months and then it becomes routine and familiar. 

  • http://dbthomas.com/blog David B. Thomas

    No! My new car will never become routine and familiar! Never never never!

  • http://equinejointsupplements.blogspot.com mauricio

     I like the post. 

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