So at the end of June, I got my first invite to Google +. Actually I got three simultaneously.  I had heard about the new offering a little earlier and understood it was Google’s approach to world domination via social networking and was here to decimate Facebook, and possibly Twitter, maybe LinkedIn

So I logged on / in and had a bit of a play.  Not much, because I couldn’t see much to play with.  I asked my connections what should I do with it. Mel Pay kindly pointed me to her analytic post on the benefits. It’s going to be a corker because it integrates with Google Apps. That didn’t work for me – I find Google apps a bit difficult to use. Don’t ask me why, I’m normally good with these things!

Jason Berek Lewis told me he liked it as it meant he could partition his different interest groups and differentiate the messaging.

More contacts mean better use of Circles to segment messages you send out over the Google+ network. That’s what attracts me to Google+ – I can easily send different messages to Family, Professional Contacts, Healthcare Comms/Social Media contacts, etc.

That made me sad. What group would I be placed in? Would I still see his Proud Papa messages, his geeky comic references? I don’t work in health care but I quite enjoy occasional posts on health care. They make me think and educate me. Ring-fencing by interest seemed exclusionary and well, not social.  As some-one who works with organisations I borrow from biologists, neuropsychs, sociologists and economists to do the things I do. Would being segmented into other people’s perceptions of what circle I should be in reduce my access to multi-disciplinary ideas?

Robert Scoble posts on how Google + won’t take off with “normal” people. It’s for serious geeks. And as some-one who has always been kind of an outlier, it’s kinda cool to be in the average range.

But he is right. The switching costs are simply too high for the average person. Because we have invested so much on other platforms. I’ve already segmented – business colleagues / acquaintances and tailored status updates on LinkedIn. Interesting people on Twitter. Real friends and occasional family members on Facebook.

Social media apostasy requires a step change innovation / benefit.

And I just don’t see it with Google +. It is incremental at best – for the average user. At least at this stage.

And I’m not seeing as much social behavior on Google +, it’s all very broadcast. I have to say all of those people who I don’t know who are adding me to circles? Freaking me out. Nothing social going on there. Which is very odd I know, because I don’t get freaked out by people following me on Twitter. Once again I feel the need to yell, ” I am not a baseball card to be collected!!”

Of course the parallels to the early stage adoption of Twitter, and if I recall, Facebook are similar. You have to use it more to get it. People were tweeting what they had for breakfast before they engaged in real conversations with followers.  Of course conversation is not the only valid social behavior online – there’s always room for observation and lurking.

People need to trust you’ll be around long enough to engage with you in a social fashion. And it is only in Beta stage.

But you tell me, what am I missing. What do you see as the step change innovation that will bring an average user along? Bring a business along. Change social media faith. Help me see the light. Because G+ whizz I just don’t see it for now…

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