I was invited to join Google+ by a friend. This was how we all got gmail, remember? Painfully earned invite by painfully earned invite? It generated that lemming-like reaction of MUST HAVE IT NOW OR BE LEFT BEHIND. Cut to: Google has infiltrated every aspect of my online life. Facebook and Twitter are the two places it does not. Twitter is a great business tool for now. It is not so much a joining together with friends/communication tool that Facebook is. But Facebook is too personal. It’s just too much up in your business. You can’t really be unseen there, move anonymously through it gathering information and spreading it, like you can on Twitter. Google+ will probably land somewhere in between the two: it will offer more than Twitter but less than Facebook. You can exclude people from your status updates if you don’t want them to see it – say, leave off all of your family members and show it only to your work friends. This is, so far, the coolest thing about Google+.
Listen, I’m not saying it isn’t cool. I’m just wondering where in god’s name am I going to put everything? As it is, I barely check Facebook. Twitter is something I do constantly, in real time. I read and engage with people there moment by moment throughout the day. I have other networks of communication too – it’s just that when I click on my Google+ homepage I’m confused. The reason Facebook works across such a broad spectrum, I figure, is that they give you less choices, not more. We pretend to want to have more freedom but the fact is, advertisers and corporations know this, we don’t. We will choose a Starbucks over a local joint, or a Home Style Buffet over a small town diner because we are assured that we will get basically the same experience every time. We don’t want to gamble our money on something that might not be what we want or what we ordered. Some of us are more willing than others to take risks. Facebook operates on that same notion that we don’t want a lot of choices – we all want to exist on relatively the same playing field. Facebook takes our limited choices and enhances them. So we can have friends but we can choose what we show certain friends. We can have photos but we can choose who gets to see them.
Conversely, Google+ gives us way too much freedom. We simply don’t have the time to sift through it all and figure out what’s what. The best thing they could do here, in its early stages, is to limit our options. Either way – here is how I think it works so far.
You have circles — so when someone clicks on your page they see all of the people who have you in their circles and all of the people you have in your circles. But they don’t get to see how you’ve categorized them. So, let’s say I have Mark Zuckerberg listed in my circle as a friend (hahaha) and an acquaintance. If you click on my page you will see that I have him in my circle. But he won’t have me in his circle. This is how you get to the exclusivity thing. If Twitter is about having more followers than you are following (wrong way to use Twitter but try changing human nature — we need to feel superior to our fellow man/woman), and Facebook is about having a lot of friends or a lot of “likes” – Google+ is about having yourself appear in a lot of circles. That shows and measures your reach.
Right now, I’m only in 17 circles as far as I can tell. I expect this number will grow but I’m not so sure. For instance, I have more than 4,000 followers on Twitter but the reason for this is that people follow me based on my site, awardsdaily.com, a lot of the content there is generated by Ryan Adams.
So when they follow @awardsdaily they think they are following the site — when in actuality, they are following me. I need to fix this. But on Google+ they won’t be following Awards Daily, they will be following me. That’s why I only have 17 so far. My own circles will be a much higher number as I’m more interested in putting other people in my circles than they will be of putting me in theirs.
Output is everything on Twitter – not everything on Facebook (in fact, the opposite: no one likes people who Facebook too much) — and will be a balance on Google+. Useful updates will work on Google+ as they do on Twitter. Junk will work as it doesn’t on Twitter. People don’t necessarily want to know that you are getting a pedicure unless you A) are someone interesting, or B) tell a funny story along with it. Usually just the old “I’m getting a pedi at my local salon” will make you lose followers instantly, unless you’re Kim Kardashian or Katy Perry. I suspect that Google+ will be something in the middle of the personal Facebook and the work-oriented Twitter.
The question remains, though: who has time for all of this? Having everything in one place is the advantage of having a presence on Google+ for me. I use Google all of the time anyway because I have sold my soul to the devil. So it’s nice to click on the + symbol and be in a social networking environment. But I look at Facebook and I look at Twitter so now I also have to look at Google+? I suppose it’s handy that one clicks on Google to search at least once a day if not twenty or a hundred times a day – so how hard is it to just click on the + symbol?
I can’t wait to see how this all turns out.