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:
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:
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!
Guy Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web, and a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki is the author of ten books including Enchantment,