Google+ seemed to get off to a running start, but more recently has been termed a “ghost town” by some pundits. Experience with the service suggests less than robust usage by consumers, despite the large number of registered users. When my Why Jersey Shore Drops the National IQ post went mildly viral last week, it quickly garnered more than a thousand Facebook likes, but a mere five +1s. Does this mean Google+ is headed the way of Friendster and MySpace?
Not to worry, Guy Kawasaki advises in his new book, What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us. He offers his take on the service:
From my perspective, Google+ is to Facebook and Twitter what Macintosh is to Windows: Better, but fewer people use it, and the pundits prophesy that it will fail. As a lover of great products, this rankles my soul.
I hate when people don’t use the best tool. Sometimes people don’t know that a better tool exists. Sometimes they know it exists but not that it’s better. Sometimes they try the better tool, but the tool doesn’t stick for them… This book explains “what the plus” makes Google+ as special as Macintosh.
Kawasaki predicts Google+ will succeed in the long haul for multiple reasons. First, Google has plenty of money and talent to pour into the project. Second, Google’s use of G+ in its search is a potent traffic driver. Finally, Google’s reach into mobile platforms via its Android partners means plenty of built-in exposure. These factors, combined with what Kawasaki argues is a better product, augur well for the long term growth of Google+.
If you reach the conclusion, as Kawasaki did, that Google+ is worth spending at least a little time on, then you want to make that time work for you. That’s where What The Plus! comes in. The book is markedly different than Kawasaki’s other efforts. This one is sold only as an inexpensive ebook, and it’s not very long. And while the text does incorporate Kawasaki’s welcome humor, this is really an operating manual for Google+. It’s illustrated with screen shots to show exactly how to perform each operation. Instead of the kind of “Guy philosophy” you find in, say, Reality Check or Enchantment, What the Plus offers hands-on, nuts-and-bolts tips for G+ users. Of course, Kawasaki frequently his perspective on how to use the various aspects of Google+ in an “enchanting” way.
I made a rookie mistake when starting to use Google+. I built circles and interacted with people, but I fail to flag my posts as “public.” This prevented other G+ users from discovering me or seeing what kind of stuff I posted if they stumbled across my profile. Kawasaki admits to a similar error, quickly corrected in his case. When I see people with no posts, I wonder if they, too, are happily posting away, never realizing that almost nobody is seeing those posts.
Kawasaki offers social media tips that are nicely integrated with Google+ specifics. Whether it’s how to reply to someone’s post or how to share content yourself, Kawasaki moves from the general reasoning and strategy into the mechanics of best Google+ practices. One example that may be obvious to many users but I see ignored all the time: when replying to a post, always include the G+ name of the person you are addressing – that will maximize the probability your reply will get viewed, and also eliminate any confusion about to whom you are replying in a long thread.
As I read What The Plus!, I found myself bouncing back to my own Google+ profile, making tweaks and fixing problems. I consider myself reasonably savvy in social media, but I found several aspects of my profile that I’d overlooked or configured poorly when I rushed through it the first time. Unless you have really focused on building your profile, you may well find similar shortcomings in what you’ve got for visible content.
What The Plus! has all the info you need to get started in Google+, or, if you are a more experienced user, to get the most out of the service. At under three bucks (at least for U.S. Kindle-version buyers), it’s a no-brainer investment – just buy it! You’ll get that much value out of the book if you use just one or two of Kawasaki’s tips, and, if Google+ does prosper, you’ll be way ahead of the late-adopters.