Why You Should Feed the Guppies in Google+
Right now Google+ is a land rush of ‘early adopter’ folks all looking to stake their flag in a weeks-old social networking platform. There is a definite thrill to it, I won’t lie, of having ‘first’ bragging rights and getting easy/easier access to some of the big names in media. But with this new frontier comes a new opportunity to rethink how we use social media.
Here’s my question, once you’re in Google+ do you really want to do the same old thing you do on other social networks like Facebook or Twitter?
I have a few fast and loose ideas that I use to determine who I ‘circle’ in Google+, what type of information I seek out, and remind myself it’s about quality not quantity (of followers). Here’s my (your) chance to reinvent yourself. If Facebook is like high school, let’s make Google+ graduate school!
Don’t follow the big fish.
Google+ will become an echo chamber of content or personalities you are already following or engaging with on other platforms. If you follow the A-listers in social media (or your niche of choice) you may be wasting your time by seeing the same content over and over. I have to admit, bigger fish like +Chris Brogan seem to be sharing different content and actively trying to create a different ‘space’ for himself than he has on Twitter or Facebook. Honestly unless you need to consume every last drop of what he types, his blog is usually sufficient enough. On the other hand internet celebraties such as +Chris Pirillo seem to be consistant from one platform to another (which is actually a good thing). Convient if you don’t want to hop platforms to see what he’s up to, but you run the risk of creating a time-suck trying to stay up to date.
If accessibility is what you crave, my advice is to grab it now in Google+ from the A-Listers while you can, because when the platform starts to ramp up, their ability to personally interact with you will dwindle. With the Big Three – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn turning into the Fab Four with the addition of Google+, it’s just a fact of the space-time continuum that they will have less time to devote to each platform.
Feed the guppies.
Take time to find and get to know people that don’t have thousands of followers. There is so much more value to finding people that offer intelligent conversations or information (or that are just plain fun) rather than becoming just another member of the audience. There are plenty of new Google+ A-Listers in the rough, and if you really value cutting edge content, you will seek out these up-and-comers rather that just fall back on the tried-and-true. On the flip side, by nurturing people that find value in YOU, you can help boost your whuffie and develop a new audience and support base.
Watch out for sharks.
As with any communication platform on the Internet, there are always people that look for opportunities to take advantage of you, harass you, or sell you snake oil. While I enjoy following and conversing with people I don’t know ‘in real life’, not everyone is comfortable with that level of connection so be respectful. If you come across content or people you don’t want to be subjected to, use the ‘block’ option or report them. Be careful and be safe, but also understand that people may have other uses for the platform than you do, it’s their right. Let them swim on by if you’re not in agreement.
Don’t chum the waters.
Just as you probably don’t like being blatantly ’pitched’ to online, don’t do it to others. People participate on social networking sites to keep in touch with others and don’t always appreciate you pushing into their conversations to sell them your widget. The same etiquette that exists on Twitter or Facebook should exist in Google+. Have conversations, get to know people, offer value – don’t not sell. Just remember that people aren’t active on social networking platforms only to be marketed to, you have to provide value and earn trust first.
Design your own fish bowl.
Make Google+ your experience. Design your Circles (groups of people to either publish content with or consume content from) how you see fit. If something doesn’t work, don’t do it! The beauty of social networking sites is that you can choose what kind of information you want to put out to others, what conversations you want to be a part of, who/what you want to consume, and how much time you want to spend. Make the best use of your time, just make sure you are finding value for your own use.
About the Author
Lynette has been blogging since 1997, podcasting since 2004, and working professionally in social media technologies and social communications since 2006. Lynette is also an organizer for PodCamp Philly and Social Media Club Princeton NJ. Lynette is also the curator of the Women in Google+ website and a huge fan of G+ Hangouts.