Guy Kawasaki loves Google+ so much, he wrote a book about it: What the Plus?

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Since I've been rather slow to get on the Google+ bus, I invited Guy to Marketing Smarts to talk about why I should give it a(nother) shot, and in this week's episode (which you can listen to above), that's exactly what he did.

The Four Ps

Guy started by explaining the differences between Google+ and the other major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), and he did it with four Ps:

  • Twitter, he said, was all about "Perspectives." It's the place where you share opinions, news, and quick updates such as, "The line at Starbucks is long" or "My cat just rolled over."
  • Facebook is about "People," specifically people you already know, your "existing social connections"—people you grew up with, went to school with, slept with, etc.
  • LinkedIn is about "Pimping." You use it to find work or to find folks with particular skills and professional connections.
  • Google+, he explained, was about "Passion." As he described it, when he got on Google+ he didn't start out looking for people he already knew; he looked for people who shared his passion for photography and as a result met photographers and photography enthusiasts—such as Thomas Hawk and Dave Powell—with whom he had no prior connection. 

Accordingly, he instructed me to start exploring Google+ by focusing on my passions and searching out folks who shared them. 

The Power of Circles

The next thing that Guy pointed out was the power of circles, the metaphor that Google+ uses to help you organize the people you follow or are connected with.

I mentioned to Guy that many people using Twitter, for example, don't understand that anyone can see their tweets unless their account is protected. Indeed, even if one's account is protected, all the people who follow you will see your tweets. There is no mechanism on Twitter for tweeting at a subgroup of followers; it's everybody or nobody.

On the Facebook front, who sees your updates (not to mention the updates you see regularly) is determined by EdgeRank—an algorithm that decides which updates to show in your feed. You may be friends with hundreds of people, but, as you may have noticed, you don't see all of them in your stream. Why not? Because, unless you've liked or commented on their updates in the past, the algorithm begins to think that you aren't that interested in seeing them, so it suppresses them.

Calling the EdgeRank system "slightly bizarre"—if you're friends with a hundred people, do you really only want to know what's up with 10 of them?—Guy pointed out two benefits of Google+ and its circles:

  • First of all, Google+ doesn't filter updates. You can, if you want, see everything posted by the folks you follow.
  • Second, circles allow you to organize your connections into specific groups ("Photographers," "Politicos," "Close Friends," etc.) and then specify which group or groups will see the things you share, allowing you to broadcast or narrow-cast your updates at will.

Hangouts: "Like Skype on Steroids"

Hangouts on Google+ are video conferences that can include up to nine people but can be watched by any number and will also be automatically recorded. It's like "Skype on steroids," Guy told me. 

To put things in perspective, Guy said that instead of using Skype, as we were, "We  could have seven more people with us and then we could have millions of people watching this and then millions more could watch it on YouTube later. All for free!"

With no real parallel on any of the other social platforms, Hangouts are one true differentiator for Google+ (and one, frankly, I'm chagrined to say I have not yet explored).

This Is Google for Crying out Loud!

I must say that reading Guy's book and talking to him did pique my interest in Google+ (where I've had an account for a year but have done precious little outside of posting photographs).

Nevertheless, I'm already fairly active on Twitter and Facebook and I've had a hard time incorporating Google+ into my social media consumption habits. Adopting Google+ is going to require some effort on my part and, as Guy himself said, "Very few of us wake up in the morning saying, 'God. If there was only one more place I could interact!"

So, why should I (or anyone) put in that effort? 

One simple reason may be, as Guy put it, "It's hard to bet against Google."

They do "own the river [of search]," after all, and, who knows, Google+ may actually represent the future of social platforms. Being a relatively late entrant to the game could be an advantage since Google can learn from the success and mistakes of its competitors and create something truly new and different and, possibly, even better. 

With 150 millions active users, Google+ isn't going anywhere. The question is, How many more people will go there? Will you?

If you'd like to hear my entire conversation with Guy you may listen above or download the mp3 and listen at your leisure. Of course you can always subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!