Google Plus – its really all about *you*

Google has released a new social media platform called Google Plus (g+). It has all the typical elements of a social networking platform:

  • You can follow people, and people can follow you back
  • You can organize your social connections them by adding them to “circles”.
  • You can posts links and videos, and comment on posts other people make.
  • You can Hangout.
    Hangout is by far my favorite feature of g+. It is basically video chat. You fire one up, and anyone can join it. So far, the most concurrent users I’ve seen in one chat is 10. There is chat functionality in the Hangout, and you can also watch YouTube videos with everyone in the chat. I experimented with broadcasting our chat on Justin.tv, but the first try was pretty bad (if not trippy). Need to work on that again.

If you are interested in a HOW-TO document for g+ check out this crowd-sourced Google doc (its a work in progress..).

My take: g+ is different because this platform is all about **you**:

  • Displaying your social network: You decide how to arrange your social networks in circles, and that info is not shared. This means you can organize your connections as you really see them, you don’t have to organize people the way they expect you to organize them.
  • Filtering information: You are responsible for scanning and filtering the firehose of information that comes at you from the people you follow.  Some people think this filtering should be done from the application side, but I think its something that has to be done on a personal level.
  • Connecting to everyone: Depending on how you have your Google account privacy set up – anyone can talk to you, and you can talk to anyone.One of the first times I fired up a Hangout, Michael Dell was the first one to join me. The founder and CEO of the company I work for – video chatting with me. Seeing my basement, and hearing my very goofy family in the background. He was just as excited as I was to experiment with g+. I told him what I was most excited about – the serendipity of meeting people you would have never known about – and he said let’s get more people in this chat! Several engineers came in because of Michael’s invitation, and I’m still talking to a couple of them. Cool technical guys from China and Singapore who I would have never met if it had not been for that serendipitous hangout meet-up.

My tips for g+

  • Don’t worry so much about how to organize your circles. Put people in circles the way that makes sense to you. Here’s how I’m organizing things:
    • Since you can read streams from the people in an individual circle, you may want to organize circles based on interest groups. Some of mine are company-based, then discipline-based, then pure personal-based
    • If one person posts lots of content it can make it hard to see posts from other folks in the circle. To solve this, create a chatty circle for the original circle. For example, I have a circle called education, and a circle called chatty education. Put the chatty person in the chatty circle, and remove them from the original circle.
  • You can broadcast messages to circles. You may want to group people based on how you want to send messages out.
    • Follow influencers in your field, add them to a circle, and send relevant content to that circle (be sure to listen to that circle as well).
    • Put the people who will appreciate your weird humor in a circle, and send them the strange links that no one else will appreciate.
    • Put your mentors, or your closest friends in their own circle. Bounce new ideas off this circle.
  • Get on Google plus now, while highly influential people are still accessible.
    From my level, and my job function, I may have at most been able to rub elbows with Michael Dell at an event, but not talk with him. That’s not how communications in a huge corporation are supposed to work.

    In big corporations there is a certain protocol that is followed in order to access the head honchos. So seeing our CEO embrace this cool new technology has reaffirmed my decision to come to Dell. Michael opens up hangouts and talks to anyone who shows up, and has been posting ads from the early days of the company. He’s totally embracing the openness of this platform, and that makes me super proud to be working for him.

  • Don’t turn g+ into yet another platform for messaging. Let’s take a step back and realize the potential of this platform. Instead of trying to control the flow of information in a one-size-fits all fashion, lets mentor and encourage people to break down the organizational and cultural norms that keep us from truly connecting with each other. Let’s embrace the overflow of information, and share the methods that we are personally using to make sense of the mayhem. Let’s try to connect all.

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