Ok, now the whole Google+ hype has died down a bit and most of my ‘friends’ activities are back to normal (e.g. Twitter & Facebook) they’ve finally officially released it to wider audience. Unofficially everybody could join anyway (simple get an invite from someone already on it), but now it’s open to the bigger community.
As my earlier posts might have already demonstrated I’m still not fully convinced on Google+. Ok, yes I can see they’ve got some really nice things in there and their interface is slick but after two months the main feeling I get from Google+ is:
Who the He.. are all those people adding me to their circles??
I mean I’ve posted only about 20 posts on Google+ in the last two months but had over a 100 people actively adding me to their circles. It took me a lot longer to get even close to these numbers on Twitter or Facebook. The problem is though that out of that 100 a considerable amount of people who added me really don’t seem to be interested in what I am about. They’re just following me so that I follow them back it seems.
On Facebook where you need to actively accept friendships I know or at least can place anyone I befriended and on Twitter, where following someone means their posts show up in your main stream I know or can place at least 80% of my followers. On Google+ however you can add someone and then just park them in a circle. There is no investment it seems. So although Google+ does seem to yield more ‘followers’, I feel less connected to them. And that makes it a lot less ‘social’ to me.
Social Networking for me is all about broadening your community and I would lie if I said I was immune to the joys of seeing my followers list grow. Your social reach (follower base) is more or less the currency in Social networking. It determines how well your message gets around and it allows you to build relations with people you would otherwise never meet. But it’s not just the amount of followers you have that is important but also why those people would want to follow you. Are they genuinely interested in what you have to say or just adding you in the hopes of being followed back?!?
How valuable are followers on Google+ as social contacts if they have the ability to add you and then bury you in a never read circle?? Ok they are ‘following’ you but they might never actually read any of what you are posting. And that is exactly what makes me feel less connected to them and less inclined to actually post on Google+.
A lot of the people that added me on Google+, I feel, were just doing that: Hoping that adding me would mean I add them back (‘I follow you if you follow me‘). When I don’t follow them back a lot of them removed me from their circles just as easily as they added me in the first place.
True, this happens on all social networks, including Facebook & Twitter but with the circles model of Google+ it just becomes so much easier to distinguish between the people you are really interested in and the ones you simply added as ‘social currency’ that it makes it feel impersonal to me. It sort of sucks out the Social aspect of it all.
So on we go. I’m not counting out Google+ yet. I still think it’s a strong contender that will grow significantly. I think a second grow spurt will happen when the full Google+ API’s will be released. Allowing social apps like Tweetdeck, Yoono, Hootsuite, etc to incorporate it. So avid Social users like me can post to it simultaneously with our other social networks (Facebook, Twitter, linkedIn, etc). Until then it will remain something I look at periodically but hardly use I guess…