You may have heard that Google+, a new social media service from Google, was unveiled last week (not to be confused with the +1 button, which Google also released recently). In the wake of an avalanche of press coverage, you may want to do what I always do: take a slow and steady, wait and see approach.
While some people rush in because it’s their job to be among the first to try a new tool (they know who they are), others are just curious, afraid of being left behind, or looking for bragging rights (why else do people wait in line at the Apple store to be among the first to have the latest gadget?).
As they did with Google Wave, Google+ upped the “cool” ante by being accessible only by invite. Thus, as is human nature, everyone who can get past the velvet rope wants to try it out.
Need to Know Basis
But if you wait, you have a chance to learn from others who have kicked the tires. And often, as was the case with Wave and Buzz, a new tool or service completely runs out of steam within a month or so.
For example, the last thing the social media squad got excited about was Empire Avenue. It’s a network/game where you “buy and sell shares in your friends” with virtual money. So, popular people become worth more, and you can sell shares of your less popular friends to invest in the more popular ones. I’m not kidding. Many social media folks were buzzing over Empire Avenue a couple months ago (apparently it was fun), but most people have grown bored with it.
How Much Is Enough?
If you’re in a position of advising a typical client about social media (one that isn’t trying to establish itself as a social media thought leader), you’ll want to become familiar with the basics of an uber-hyped tool like Google+. Just learn enough about it so that you can speak intelligently about its pros and cons if asked, but there’s no reason you have to become an overnight expert (and I mean this literally – there are many among the social media-obsessed who stayed up all night on Google+ the day it was launched).
Becoming familiar can mean poking around with it a bit, if you have the opportunity, or taking a look at some of the many overviews and tutorials that pop up (see list below). If a new tool truly has staying power, you’ll continue to hear about it for many weeks after its launch and trusted sources (like Solo PR Pro!) will tell you when it’s a must-have for your toolbox.
The Skinny on Google+
Most users of Google+ are somewhat pleasantly surprised, because it has a clean, intuitive design that makes it easy to use its basic features with little to no learning curve. It also has some more robust capabilities – like the ability to have a multi-user video chat, called a “Hangout,” – the implications of which are just beginning to be explored by those that are part of the beta test.
What remains to be seen is whether the average social media participant (let alone the masses) has the bandwidth to learn and participate in yet another network. If Google had brought us this tool two years ago or more, it would be much easier to imagine users substituting it for Facebook, Twitter, etc. Now, are we too entrenched and committed (due to our extended networks on these other tools) to change our behavior? Only time will tell.
Fore more in-depth coverage, some of my favorite posts and tutorials to date on Google+ include:
- Google+: An Introductory Tour, a video by Jason Falls, offered for free on his Exploring Social Media membership site
- First Look Google+, by Valeria Maltoni, Conversation Agent
- An introduction to Google+ (YouTube), by Nathan Olivarez-Giles, LA Times technology reporter
- Why Google Has the Hammer To Make Businesses Use Google Plus, by Jay Baer, Convince and Convert
- I really wanted to hate Google Plus, by David M. Scott, Web Ink Now (it’s funny, because it’s true!)
It’s important to note that Google+ is being updated constantly, so some of the early reviews you see have some inaccuracies now (in particular, Jason Falls’ point that you have to be “in” a circle to limit your posts to that circle is no longer the case).
A Toe in the Water
As Solo PR Pros, we all have too much to do and not enough time. At this point, a basic understanding of what is included in Google+ — as detailed in the links above – is all you really need to know.
For those who are curious and would like to take a peek, I have a limited number of invites available that I’m happy to share with the Solo PR Pro community. To keep your email address private, please use this form to request one.
What are your thoughts about yet another network? How do you decide when it’s time to dip a toe in the water, and when it’s time to jump in? Have you had a chance to try out Google+, and if so, what are your impressions? Let us know in the comments!