Most of Us Aren’t Ready for Google +

Google + is all the rage. Or is it?

These days, I’m spending the majority of my time helping people learn about social media. I’m not teaching them how to tweet (they pretty much figure that out for themselves), but I’m teaching them how to more effectively use social media as a part of their overall marketing and communications strategy. I’m talking to individuals, small business owners, comms teams in corporations and public servants. Most of the people I’m teaching are coming in with many years of previous experience at marketing and communications. They are taking courses because their jobs are changing, and they need to learn about this fundamental shift in how people connect, communicate and share information and how it impacts the way they work.

It’s not about the tools. Until it is.

Many of the people I am working with are NOT early adopters. They certainly aren’t super duper early adopters like me, and many of my colleagues and friends (whom I affectionately refer to as “Social Media Geeks”.)

Non-early adopters are the vast majority of people. Social Media Geeks are not.

And because of this, the vast majority are coming to my classes because they want to learn the more mainstream tools…blogging, podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, and video. Google + has barely entered their lexicon at this point.

Yes, the early adopters and “experts” will tell us that Google + already has 50 million users. Yes, they tell us that it handles privacy and filtering and search SO much better than Facebook. They will tell us we’d better hurry up and get on board because we don’t want to miss the steam train that is Google +.

I call shenanigans.

The truth is, there are 750 million more people on Facebook than Google +. There are 150 million more people on Twitter than Google +. It’s true, some of my students’ audiences may be hanging out on Google +. But MOST of their audiences are still on those other tools, and they are there in a big, big way.

And even with all the features and benefits and potential of Google + as a platform, it’s not there yet. It’s not mainstream. It’s not where the vast majority of the non-early adopter community are focused.

You want my advice? Spend your time with the platforms and tools that already have some best practices. Spend your time where people have already run some successful campaigns. Build a body of amazing content on your home base (your web site or blog) and then find your audience on the outpost tools (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and find ways to link those two.

Don’t forget about Google + though, because it does have potential to be a contender in time. Do take the time now to explore the platform. Set up a profile, and do a bunch of searches, and find people having interesting conversations and get involved. At this point, it’s a great listening and learning tool. It’s just not quite yet the business communication powerhouse some would have you believe.

What it comes down to is this – if you shift gears away from the platforms that the VAST MAJORITY of people are still Β using to focus your efforts on the new shiny thing that is Google +, then you run the risk of missing out on the opportunities that the tried, tested and true platforms still offer.


Category:social media
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The Road Gets Wider: Reflections at 41


  • November 17, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Solid advice as usual Suze! Shiny Object Syndrome is in full force. πŸ™‚

  • November 17, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Excellent points, Sue. Google+ likely will be big one day and it will likely become an essential part of social media strategy, but we’re a long way from that happening. I think it’s great when people get on and feel it out, but focusing on the established networks is a wise choice. The SM geeks will build their presence on G+ early the same way they did on twitter and facebook. That doesn’t mean everyone else needs to.

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Hey, we were all hanging out on Twitter in 2007 talking to ourselves when nobody else was there. They thought we were nuts. Now, they think we are nuts for hanging out on G+ talking to ourselves. But if/when it does hit the mainstream, we will be that much more helpful to the non-early adopters, right?

  • November 17, 2011 at 11:31 am

    @marcapitman ‘s and my son is 12 and on Google+. He was asking something about the platform and kind of ‘what is the point’. My response to him clarified my own thinking (I love when I open my mouth and hear myself make sense). I told him ‘Google + is something that we all think is going to be pretty great, we’re just still figuring out why and how.’

    Thanks for your perspective, too. Love common sense. Love it.

    • November 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm

      That, Emily, is a perfect way to look at it. It reminds me of the olden days when touch tone phones started to replace rotary dial phones (I’m old).

      I remember asking my Mom what the ‘*’ and ‘#’ buttons were for (this was pre-voicemail or automated attendants!). She told me exactly the same thing you told your son.

      She was right, too.

  • November 17, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Don’t tell Chris this… πŸ˜‰

    It’s the shiny ball syndrome. But shiny balls get dusty and battered, and then unused. Or can do.

    Be where you need to be, and be aware of the rest.

    Solid stuff, miss. No surprise there. πŸ™‚

    • November 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm
      Susan Murphy

      What I think is interesting Danny is that the target market of people who are doing most of the talking and teaching about the “bleeding edge” of social media is essentially, people like you and me, NOT the non-early adopters. We choose wisely (and sometimes differently πŸ˜‰ who we listen to, talk with and spend our money on, and that is all part of the fun of it. Different voices make for a big and interesting chorus.

      The truth is, nobody really knows how this is all going to work out. We can only speculate, and be creative, and strategic in our approach. We can draw on our past experience and figure out how it all applies. We can talk about our opinions and agree and disagree, and that is the fantastic part. As a collective we are all working to move the media forward, understand it and help others to understand it.

      I think there is still plenty to learn, and even more unanswered questions, and I’m keeping tabs, because, like, you and the others of us who live in this space, we must.

      • November 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm

        What’s Google+?

        Is that the social networking site I use to share my latest blog posts and respond when people comment on them — and that’s the extent of what I do there? That place?

        I guess I’m not the target.

  • November 18, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Totally agree. Generally when people ask me about google+ (and I deal with a lot of people with little social media knowledge and also often a lot of fear of it) that I think it’s great, has a lot of potential, but not to worry about it for now. Then we talk about Facebook, twitter and blogging. πŸ™‚



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