On Google+: First Impressions

There’s a new social kid on the block and he’s raring to ‘rassle. When I first heard about Google+ (G+), my thoughts were along the lines of “Oh,crap. Another thing to look at.” As these social platforms proliferate, it takes a lot of time to familiarize oneself with them, ramp up in how to best use them, and then sit in them to gain value.

The vast majority of people who have added me to their G+ circles *seem* to be doing so from a SharePoint slant, which is to be expected, as that’s my most socially available persona. That’s gratifying, of course. (One of my beefs with the emails I get telling me that I’ve been added to someone’s circle is that it doesn’t say what circle it was. “SharePoint” or “Jerks who bloviate”? I have to guess why they might have added me.)

It seems that the largest flaw with Google+ circles isn’t the circles themselves, but how people are using them so far, at least based on my minimal watching. (So far I’m primarily a lurker.) While it’s important to put people into circles which makes sense to me for consumption, those selfsame people should be sure to publish to their circle(s) which is/are relevant to the content, IMO.

So we still seem to have the classic metadata problem which we always run into with any social or collaborative tool. How the consumer wants to receive content is often not aligned with how the publisher wants to send it. If I publish photos of my kid – as awesome as he is – to my SharePoint circle, I’ve in essence lost a point of trust with the people in that circle, or at least I should.

One of *my* mistakes so far has been to add too many people to my SharePoint circle. I started grabbing people who added me to one of their circles and dropping them into my SharePoint circle somewhat blindly. Now I’ve got a smaller version of the same issue I have with Facebook: I’ve accepted too many people into my “realm” (I needed a transcendent word) and I need to pare it back. It’s the same issue I had when I started with Twitter and the reason why I’m following relatively few people compared to many other people. I don’t care about the popularity contest part of this: I want to know that I will see good content on the topics I choose. (As with Twitter and Facebook, likewise LinkedIn: I want the connections I have to people with there to mean something. See my Collecting Souls posts: 1, 2 and 3.)

Tom Resing (@resing– I’m going to stick with Twitter handles for links, at least for now) shared a post on G+ which I found really interesting:


(What’s the best way to share a G+ post outside of G+? As far as I know, there’s no good mechanism for it, so a screen grab seemed like a reasonable approach.)

If Mike (G+: Mike Elgan) is correct and G+ is successful, I could see G+ beginning to supplant blogs, Twitter, and personal emails, but I’m not sold yet. I’m going to continue to sit back a while and watch how this Google+ thing plays out.

* Thanks to Kiran Voleti for the really big +1 graphic: http://www.kiranvoleti.com/google-plus-one-vector-logo-freebie


  1. Disagree with “if you address it to your circles, it’s a tweet.” Unless you have a locked acct, anyone can see your tweets. And I don’t see g+ becoming a platform for mid- to long-form journo the way blogs are. G+ is inherently a multi-way street, just as twitter is. Blogging started as a one-way street, and I don’t think commenting on a blog is the same as commenting on a g+ post.

  2. Mark,

    I’m with you on G+. There are features that I like (threaded replies, circles for focused content and more than 140 characters for posts), but I’m not sold on how this platform is going to work overall. Just because I place a person into my SharePoint circle doesn’t mean the content I see when I view that circle is going to be centralized on SharePoint — in fact, as much as I love the occasional editorial comic, seeing it flooded across all my circles over and over again gets a bit annoying and is one of the reasons I’m not as active on Facebook as I am on Twitter.

    If I could “filter” a stream, perhaps G+ would become more useful as I could refine the stream from a circle a little better. That’s what I enjoy about Twitter and the multitude of Twitter clients — I can refine my feeds to the information that really does interest me and filter out most of the noise and clutter.

    Perhaps one of the challenges of the new platform is learning how to post relevant content into your circles — and you’ve highlighted this well in this post — it’s a metadata problem common to just about all social networks. Perhaps as the G+ platform matures, we will see better usability of the platform.

    Now, with all of that stated, my favorite feature of G+ thus far is Sparklines. This has already helped me solve an issue and it helps me find content I would otherwise miss through my traditional content networks (searches, twitter, etc)

    • @Claire: I don’t necessarily agree with all of Mike’s ideas, but they interested me. All of these platforms have a temporal issue as well. In other words, if I’m not watching, I miss it, therefore I have to watch it, and hey it’s summer so I should be outside playing with the kid.

      @Chris: Several people have mentioned “Sparks” to me, but I haven’t dived into that yet. How did it help? I’m interested in the mechanics.
      Again, it’s part of the issue that new platforms have a learning curve. I’m really glad I didn’t spend that time on Google Wave (for example) and thus my “wait and see” attitude.

      • Marc,

        Basically, this works in a similar fashion to Twitter’s search. You click on sparklines and then provide a term to search (i.e. SharePoint Social Media) and then Google’s search provides recent blog posts, news and web content related to the search. If something interests you just simply click share and type your comments.

        When the June 2011 CU was taken offline (July 11, 2011) for the day our consultants were trying to determine what happened. The next day, sparklines found a post from one of the product team members which explained why it wasn’t available — they republished it. We’re in the middle of an upgrade and had applied the hotfix. We were having issues that were outlined in the reason they refreshed it (Secure Store couldn’t generate a password). We applied the refreshed hotfix to the new environment and our issue was resolved.


        • Thanks. Chris. That’s helpful. I’ve fiddled around with Sparks a little, but it’s really unclear what determines what is shown in the results. For instance, I created a Spark for SharePoint, and there are blog posts and some links to Web sites, but I don’t see anything that is a G+ post. It’s a little indecipherable. I watched to intro video in help, too. I don’t really care what the details of the algorithm are, but it doesn’t seem to pick up a lot of what I’d expect.


          • I agree, there are times the information is very relevant — other times the information is totally useless. It seems to be keyword based — and as long as the blog/news mentions SharePoint it may make it into the spark. This is good until you get a list of SharePoint bashing blog posts that are really not helpful at all.

  3. Thanks for mentioning me. You can share posts by copying the link to the date, which is a permalink. However, this one was shared to a limited audience, so while this is is in public beta, the audience is limited for clicking straight through to it. I’ll post the link anyway since you were in the limited audience as are some of your readers: https://plus.google.com/u/0/107012434011965037049/posts/AWhzN2b8kZs

    You can link to Google+ profiles publicly, though they have a long id. For example, mine is https://plus.google.com/u/0/107012434011965037049

    Since the about page on my profile links to my twitter handle anyway, I’m ready for that to be my default profile on the web. I like that it shows different details for public users versus those in circles, too.


Have a thought or opinion?