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August 6, 2011

Too much Google+ will kill Google+

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A few weeks ago, I found that my Google+ stream was principally filled with posts about Google+ and Google products. At the beginning I though it was normal because everyone wanted to know how to use G+. For a moment I thought it was my fault because there were many Google experts on my circles. So I enlarged my circles to more subjects and I waited a couple of weeks to see if new G+ users were able to modifying the current trend with most varied articles about music, science, literature, etc. The problem was that these new profiles posted also articles about G+ each time they learned about some feature or new functionality. Therefore, even if I have actually almost 25 circles among which only one is for Googlers (Google employees), I keep finding a lot of Google+ tips, Google announcements and a lot of information about social networks and how Facebook and Twitter must be afraid of G+, or why you must keep your Facebook and Twitter accounts, ... 

Yesterday I found a very interesting post of Alida Brandenburg that resumes very well the feelings of a large amount of G+ users about "too much G+" and she proposes a way to become more cultural, more social (for real). Hereafter I reproduce with permission her post and I hope you will find it very useful and instructive for your future G+ posts.

_______________________________________


Do you love Google+? Want it to succeed? You should probably stop posting about it then.

If you’re just joining Google+, you may not have noticed. In fact, if you did, you may have even appreciated it.

Studies show that 95% of posts on Google+ are about Google+.

Okay, okay, confession: I totally made that number up, but if you take a look at your stream, you’re likely to jump to a similar estimate.

Now, this is great for the first month or so that you’re on Google+ because these posts are chalked full of helpful tips that will assist you in getting your bearings in your new neighborhood. They are also often shares of pertinent information from users who are likewise useful to follow, so it’s a convenient, friendly introduction to your new neighbors. And really, come on- who hasn’t got caught up in the excitement of it all and wanted to do nothing but talk about this awesome new social community?

But now it’s your second month. You’ve settled into your new homepage and unpacked your box.netcontents. (Good thing you always backed up your Facebook photos on there!) You’ve become acquainted with your fellow Google+ residents and the all the usual characters (two crier, +Robert Scoble, Mayor +Natalie Villalobos … ). You’re feeling pretty jazzed about your move, so you venture out into your new ‘hood to explore further. But to your dismay, what you find resembles a track-housing, cookie-cutter community stamped out with nothing but more of the same- namely, posts about Google+. It’s stagnate. It’s starting to feel a little bit less like seven minutes in heaven and a little more like Fahrenheit 451. And it hits you: you just moved into a house of cards.

If Google+ continues to primarily offer Google+-related content, the site will get stale, established users will get turned off, and this house of cards will collapse. Reading about nothing but the way Google+ is or isn’t great, why or how it should be used, and how it’s going to impact the industry (and the world) is going to quickly become irrelevant. Without outside content to sustain users long-term, it’s simply not going to be great. Posts about how you should use Google+ are going to become empty if making said posts are the entirety of what users are using Google+ for. It will never have the opportunity to make an impact if all Google+ ends up being is a lot of smoke and funhouse mirrors reflecting back on itself. Pay no attention to the man behind the firewall.

So why am I saying all this? Because I do believe Google+ can be great. I do think there is an amazing plethora of reasons and ways Google+ should be used. I do think it has the potential to really serve as a game-changer and influence the world, and I’d like to see it reach that pinnacle.

So here’s my encouragement to all of you: if you share these sentiments, start branching out more. Post more unique, non-Google related content. Start sharing these non-Google/tech-related posts when you see them posted by other users so they can be disseminated to a wider audience, and likewise, think twice about sharing a Google+-related post “just because.” Build your stream up with people outside of the tech industry. Let’s not let this become a one-dimensional, Stepford-wives type community. Following the discouraging article that +Natalie Villalobos posted (https://plus.google.com/?tab=XX#109895887909967698705/posts/6rV72HNuXrD), let’s make this palatable and accessible on a global scale so it more accurately reflects our world population. Let’s focus on the plus, not the Google.


Why this isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

Aside from noticing that most content on here is Google+-related, you may have also observed that the most-circled users fall into at least one of three categories:

1. Celebrities established prior to Google+
2. Google employees
3. People making Google+/tech-related posts

The first group is, of course, predictable, but the reason behind the second and third groups’ popularity is the biggest hurdle in overcoming the stagnation of content on here. Specifically, the people in the latter two groups rose to fame because their content or persona is Google+-related, and the posts that typically seem to get the highest number of shares, comments, and +’s are likewise Google+-related. This, again, is predictable, since this type of content is universally relevant to Google+ users, it’s accessible, and it’s still exciting and new to most. Compounding this advantage, these second- and third-category users then also become archived in a widely acknowledged database of “people to follow” list unofficially distributed to new users. This means that every time a new user joins, the elite status of the second and third groups is reestablished and further validated as more users follow them and distribute their posts. It’s amplification at its best. Suffice to say, posting G+-related content is not only easy, it’s also a tempting crutch to fall back on if you want to get a lot of followers.

Unfortunately, so long as people are rewarded by a high number of shares, comments and pluses on their Google+-related content, the positive reinforcement will continue and thus, so will the Google+ related content. People will continue to build notoriety on it and their egos will be fed. (See my previous post on this: https://plus.google.com/103765013042311928518/posts/F9bAU5K25Ec). This trend will keep up for a while until veteran users become frustrated with the redundancy and lack of substance on the site and an exodus will likely begin. The whole thing will potentially collapse.


How I plan to contribute.

Now, I realize the irony in all of this. First off, I’m encouraging others to expand their discussion points and stop relying so heavily on Google+ topics, while meanwhile making a post about Google+ myself. (Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors.) Not only that, but as a first-gen user active on the site when it initially launched, I’ve inadvertently built a bit of a following myself due to my own generated Google+-related content. (So yes, I can see your eyes rolling from here.) And this is not to say that I'm going to stop posting about Google+ all together. Obviously as the site continues to develop, there will me be more discuss. However, thus far I’ve also intentionally done my best to post on a variety of other topics with as much thoroughness as possible to help spur discussion and add depth to the content on Google+. Here’s how I’d like it to continue:


Topic Tuesdays

Every Tuesday I’ll post a question or topic to spark discussion and sharing. It can be as simple as asking you to tell the story of the first time you got in trouble with your parents, or it can be something more controversial, like asking whether or not prostitution should be legal. You can respond to my post directly, but I would also encourage you to create your own post around it and share it with your circles. Stir things up. Tell a story. Discover and explore. Get to know each other and connect with one another on the things that make us human- from the trivial and mundane to the profound and poignant. In summary? Stop focusing on the Google and start cultivating the plus.





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