Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What's All The Fuss About Google Plus

Recently, a few people have asked me why they should switch to Google Plus. Having been on the network since the very early days, I can share a few insights.

To begin, this is not an argument to switch from any other social network to Google Plus. As I have written before, it is not a question of which social network is the best but rather a question of purpose. As Stephen Covey teaches in his Seven Habits, start with the end in mind. What is it you are trying to do?

If you are visiting Google Plus just to experiment and kick the tires, it may tickle your fancy or seem flat. Think about deciding to visit New York City or Paris, stepping off the plane and asking yourself, what is so special about this place. With no purpose or direction, you will not find the museums, shops, theaters or restaurants to excite and delight you.

Your first impression will depend heavily on what you do and who you meet. The experience in Google Plus will depend, like life, on your circles of friends. Circles are how you group and keep track of the people in Google Plus. Importantly, circles can be shared. If you meet someone knowledgeable about this place and you share your interests, they can help you find the right places and others who share those interests.

Google Plus is what I call the professional social network with circles of people who are into art, media, science, music, programming or other disciplines. It is international and seems to have little regard for time of day. Depending on your interests, you should find and engage people who share them. Finding these people and making new friends is easy if you just watch the public stream for a while. You will catch a post or two that seems interesting. Simple add the people to a circle and begin to exchange thoughts with them. They will lead you to others who share the interest and you will be off and running.

The real secret sauce, however, is hangouts. These are video chats with up to ten people simultaneously see and hear each other. While other social platforms make it easy to interact with people in real time, Google Plus allows you to literally hang out together. Trying to describe the experience is beyond my abilities, except to say it is the highest form of electronic engagement bar none. Simply join one of the many public hangouts and experience it for yourself. Come armed with good questions or a purpose and you will, no doubt, get great answers and guidance. Any camera will do, but please wear ear buds or headphones.

An easy way to start is by putting me in your circle and joining any public hangout I am in. You can also reach out to Robert Redl and ask him to send you his shared circle of elite hangout people, any one of which would be delighted to assist you in learning about the platform. These are wonderful people who have much to share and are happy to share it with new people. You can find someone near you since they come from all over the world.

Keep in mind you will get out only what you put in. If you cannot find the right topics or people, perhaps this is not the right platform for you. My experience has been incredible as you know if you read any of my earlier columns.

While I continue to dabble with and monitor the other major networks, Google Plus has become the place where you will find me spending most of my time. Hey, want to hang out?

Captain Joe

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