Why I haven’t written an analysis of Google+

In the swirling social media maelstrom, new products, especially from the likes of Google – remember Wave? Launched with fireworks and died like a damp squib -cause a lot of excitement. And busy professionals do need to sometimes make snap judgements about whether these things are going to be worth investing time in.

However, sometimes I think people are driven more by the desire to write the ten-ways-google-plus-will-help-you-make-10-million-dollars-of-sales/donations-OMG article than to actually give the new platform or product a chance.

The thing is, it’s not brands that are going to make or break these things. They are not being built, primarily, for us to use professionally (although Google is planning a professional platform, which should be interesting). The proof of the pudding will not be whether we think on first acquaintance, with just a few hesitant conversations going on, we can build as vibrant communities here as we have on Facebook or Twitter.

Suddenly the fact that communities have a very different character depending on the platform gets forgotten. We try to apply what we’ve learned from Facebook because ‘it’s a bit like Facebook’. We try to apply what we’ve learned from Twitter because ‘there are Twitter-like elements’. We forget we have to learn some new things from Google+, if it succeeds, because it is Google+, and not anything else. Sure, tribal human behaviours online are pretty similar wherever you go, but the specific ways they manifest themselves take on quite astonishingly different flavours on different channels. Google+ will have its own.

My first approach to a new tool or platform is always, always to approach it on a personal level, as myself, and learn its etiquette, syntax and possibilities. I have to have this knowledge of this as an ordinary user if I have a hope in hell of understanding it and using it effectively as a marketing professional. Customer services breakdowns and crises happen when brands forget to be human. The basics of marketing stay pretty much the same online and off, but each individual interaction needs to be appropriately tailored.

So, while I’ve read an article or two musing on interesting points of development, I’ve deliberately shelved any premature analyses for later, and held fire on making any. Of course I have ideas about how this might go, but I like to give these things a chance to breathe and grow.

In the meantime, I’m building circles.

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