Evangelizing Google+ And What The Plus! By Guy Kawasaki

It has been more than a year since I have joined the social network Google+.  Prior to that, I was pretty active in Facebook.  The decision to leave Facebook was not easy.  Because I have plenty of friends over there whom we interacted by the minute.  On top of that, I have a Twitter account.  I was used to tap onto the news of the world as often as I checked and updated the Facebook status.  When I got to try out Google+, thanks to a beta invite, immediately I have recognized something special about the then-new social network.  Something I could not pinpoint.  I have dropped Facebook almost completely except the couple of minutes I spend every other day.  And have gradually dropped Twitter.  I value my social networks.  But I do not have the time to commit to all of them out there.  There is no lukewarm commitment when it comes to building a new network.  You either in, or out.  At least for some of us who have a full time job and that social networking has no apparent benefits to our work.

So it was a clean start, with Google+.  I have struggled for half a year, trying to find my way and get more from it.  I am a persistence type, so I hang on, momentarily enjoyed the quietness due to a sudden drop of digital interaction.  Many friends whom I managed to convince did not stay in Google+ for long.  Because they could not find what they were looking for.  Fair enough.  Then something happened, that totally changed what Google+ means to me.  I began to actively interact with strangers who have similar hobbies and interests, a good sense of humor and maturity.  In return, they interact with me.  I approached Google+ with the Facebook mindset.  That did not work at all.  Google+ is a tool for you to circle interesting people, interact with strangers and develop relationship.  The growth of your network could be exponential.  It is less of a tool to add real life friends onto your existing network, which is what Facebook is for.  It is more of a tool to find new people from all over the world, beyond your real life social circles.

Guy Kawasaki – the author of What the Plus! – has accurately described what some of the major social networks are for.  That pinpoints the reason why I embrace Google+.  That is passions.

Twitter = Perceptions.

Facebook = People.

Pinterest = Pictures.

Google+ = Passions.

To further describe Google+, Kawasaki wrote:

Google+ enables you to pursue your passions with people you don’t know.  You 200 friends and family on Facebook may not share your passion for photography, but on Google+ you can have a blast with a community of photograpers.  In short, Google+ is for passions.

Do you want to enhance and expand the number of people who share your passions and interact with them via posts and comments?  If you do, focus on Google+.  If you don’t, stick with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn until Google+ reaches critical mass.  If you just want to have fun posting pictures of cool stuff, use Pinterest.

Or, you may decide you need multiple services […]  That’s OK too.

As I have mentioned, I have struggled for quite a bit during my initial journey with Google+.  I wish I had a chance to read What the Plus!  The process of getting into and getting the most out of the network could have been quickened.  Guy Kawasaki was one of the first stranger I have added into my circle.  I did not know who he is.  But he appears to consistently share interesting stuffs in his stream.  And he appears to be popular in Google+.  In fact, as of today, he has close to 3 million followers.  When McGraw-Hill the book publisher approached me for the review of this book, my first reaction was: Kawasaki writes books?  Besides having published 11 books, Kawasaki is also the former Chief Evangelist of Apple.  He acts as a curator in Google+, sharing interesting stories to the community.

For those who are new to Google+, What the Plus! has tons of relevant tips.  It shows you the basic of how circle works and it quickly gets you started by populating your personal stream with relevant stories of your passions.  Many feedback I have with friends who tried out Google+ points to the observation that in their streams, they only see posts from the few persons day in and day out – like my posts.  Because I seem to be their only friend active in Google+.  It does not have to be that way.  There are tons of people in Google+ who are way more interesting than I am, with passions more relevant to you.  All you need to do is search them out by keywords or hash tags.  Find out who are consistently churning out quality posts and circle them.  Here are a few I have randomly dreamed of as illustrations.

What the Plus! also talks about how to create an enchanting profile.  Circling new people out there is one thing.  Getting others to circle you back is another.  Without these serendipity interactions, Google+ would at best be a Twitter to you.  Or at worst, a ghost town.  I agree with Kawasaki that a well written profile – very much your social resume – is important.  I seldom circle anyone in Google+ who does not invest time in doing up a profile or do not have a good history of public posts.  Because establishing trust in Google+ is the first step in building a relationship.  I cannot circle you if you have nothing interesting to say about yourself or anything in life.

Most who are used to Facebook culture would be reluctant to post in public when they first visit Google+.  It took me a while to convince my wife Cynthia that Google+ works in a completely different way.  Her comment after a few months of using Google+?  It surprises her much that even as she posts in public, she feels that her privacy is better respected in Google+.  All her interactions do not get broadcast in a ticker form, like Facebook does.  No one has a complete picture on what she does in Google+.  Not even I.  She may have commented on some posts about learning Spanish outside my radar.  Or with someone who is not in my circle.  In Google+, it is very clear who can see what, down to the individual comment and post.

Because Google+ works differently from other social networks, to thrive and get the most out from it, eloquence in everything you do is essential.  What the Plus! gets you covered, from how to post and comment, share posts and photos, to how to respond to comments and Hangout (a video chat with up to 10 people).  As someone who has already been using Google+ for quite some time, I find the tips useful.  I have learned a few things from this book too.  What the Plus! also contains tons of resources in getting help as well as enhancing your Google+ experience.  Kawasaki publishes the links in the form of QR codes.  There is also a chapter written by guest author Lynette Young specifically targeted to the women users.

I endorse 99.9% of What the Plus!  I have one discomfort though.  Kawasaki mentioned in multiple times that we should share posts from 10 a.m. Pacific to 10 p.m. Pacific […] when the spammers in Asia are asleep (page 83).  And on post scheduling, he is willing to sacrifice the aesthetics of a post in order to avoid the spammy and insipid comments that occur when Southeast Asia is awake (page 190).

Ouch.  I am from Asia, in particularly Southeast Asia.  Hence my spirit of evangelizing this book is slightly dampened.  I suppose when you have 3 million followers, spamming could be a valid concern.  I run a website that is bombarded by hundreds and thousands of spam comments a day.  I install an add-on to deal with them.  It sounds like Guy Kawasaki is frustrated with Google’s inability to completely stem the spammers.  I sincerely hope that the situation will improve for him, and that he may recognize that Google+ has a global reach beyond the US time zones.

In summary, What the Plus! provides a good introduction to those who are serious or curious about Google+.  It is less likely that you will gain 3 million followers like Kawasaki does by reading this book.  However, reading What the Plus! will help you potentially skipping months of frustration and get you active in possibly one of the best social networks we have today – my opinion of course.

Google+ > Twitter + Facebook

My Google+ invite came in a good timing.  I am seldom an early adopter when it comes to technology.  I have yet to install a webcam for my computer.  When I first signed up for Google+, I was curious, in a healthily skeptical way.  The timing was good because as CNN has recently reported, some of us just need a reboot.  Facebook has served its purpose.  I have had a fun time interacting with friends whom I know, ‘friends’ whom I do not know online.  There has been a lot of time investment in building my social network.  Despite the good time I had, there is some discomfort in using Facebook.

Top of my concern is privacy issue and the lack of control over who should see the stuffs I write and the stuffs others write about me in Facebook in a micro level.  I could set up groups and fiddle with the access control.  But in real life, that is hardly practical.  For instance, I could say, none of my acquaintances are allowed to tag me into their pictures.  What if there is this one acquaintance who has this one great photograph that I wish I could have been tagged?  Or I could say, all my good friends are able to tag me into their pictures.  What if there is this one picture that I really do not wish to be tagged in spite of the good intent?  Sure I could remove the tag.  But most of the time, it is too late.  Do I want my  friends to be aware of my recent activity in participating in some of the political debates over other Facebook pages or the walls of my friends?  Some interactions are meant to be segregated.  I could tweak the security setup in Facebook to handle the situations as mentioned and more.  However, balancing being too open and too close in Facebook is never easy.

Then comes Google+.  It took me a while to set it up and get used to the way how G+ works.  Once I got through the initial hurdle, the first thing I notice is that friends in my circles are really my friends (hence the reboot).  Friends who I know of and am interested in reading what they share online.  I have complete control over how each of my message is shared – publicly, to a set of circles, or even down to the individuals.  Do I want to disallow resharing of what I write in G+?  Do I want to disable comments?  The decision is all mine to made, at the point of sharing, based on the circumstance.

The second thing I notice is that G+ promotes a more causal networking.  Let’s say I find an interesting topic and I participate in the discussion.  And I happen to like some of the comments one person has made.  I find him interesting and wish to hear more about what he shares on a regular basis.  In Facebook, I would need to add him as a friend.  But is he really a ‘friend’?  If I was him, would I want to confirm such a request?  In G+, I can add people into my circles.  They will be aware of my action.  But it is up to them if they wish to add me into theirs and potentially see some of their more private sharing.  In most cases, it does not have to be so.  I could be interested reading more about how Jenson Button feels before and after the race.  And what sports he does when he is not racing.  But I don’t think Button would have the time to read what I share online.

Just an example.

That brings up to the second part of this entry: Twitter.  I read that some start to complain having an extra social network to follow the same set of people and hear the same thing.  Yet another place to broadcast or promote their online presence.  To me, it is never an issue.  I use Twitter to follow news and gossips.  I use Facebook to keep track of what some of my friends do.  Once Google+ is open for business for the celebrities and company profiles, I suspect I would drop Twitter.  Because it is so much easier to zoom into the topics of my interest in G+ via circles.  The quality of sharing in G+ seems higher too because there is no limit in characters and we are free to edit the messages and comments after they are published.  As for Facebook, it may take longer for me to transit out of it because most of my friends are still clinging onto what may not seem broke to them.  I still occasionally drop by Facebook.  But the majority of my activity is on G+, for now.

It is still early to say if Google+ will be a success.  I certainly welcome a break from Facebook and have the opportunity to approach social networking in a fresh new way.  If you want a Google+ invite, you may drop me an email.

Circle me at http://gplus.to/wilfridwong