beyond social media: I’ve seen the future and it’s name is Google+

“How are you going to use Google+?” That’s the question on early adopters’ lips.

We have been programmed to look at each and every evolution of Web 2.0 as something to use, something that can be harnessed to do our bidding and serve our needs. The race to establish your profile, the mad hunt for followers, the not-so-social tactics for driving eyeballs back to your site… it’s all pretty familiar now.

Let me offer you a different thought about this new “platform:” Google+ is not just another evolution of Web 2.0 but a genuine step into the world of Web 3.0.

Web 3.0 has been defined as the Semantic Web, where the machines & algorithms understand us just as well as our friends and family. But I think we’re a ways off from having machines that truly comprehend the nuances of human communication. Instead, it appears that we’re entering an era of true integration with technology, at least in the connected class.

The tool that has become synonymous with search now offers a way to create a virtual representation of yourself.

Actually, that’s not quite right.

Your Google+ profile is a direct representation of who you are online. Nothing virtual about it.

You owe it to yourself to create the best “you” there as possible. Why? Google has already integrated itself into your life: Gmail, docs, calendar, maps… This isn’t about business versus personal, networking versus socializing. This is about the whole you, the well-rounded you.

And this is about what people find when they look for you.

Case in point, check out what pops up when I Google myself:

Yep, my G+ profile is listed above this very website. The one that bares my name! Now, I asked around and discovered that this isn’t yet the case for everyone. And, no doubt, if you haven’t yet activated a G+ account, this is not that case. But just how much longer is this going to be a new thang? Not long.

How you build out your profile, connections, +1’s, and comments will affect how the almighty G-machine understands you and that in turn will affect how real live human beings understand you.

The implications are vast.

How am I reacting to this new platform? Well, since I believe G+ represents a fundamental shift in how we integrate the ‘net into our total lives, I’m having a bit of an existential crisis! Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. But I feel pressure to create a compelling profile that avoids fluff, pitches, and blatant advertising.

I have confidence that I’m all I need to sell me – so how can I translate me into updates, links, and photos?

That’s the (multi) million dollar question.

I’m striving to create a stream of content that, when taken as a whole, invites people to learn more about me. On the flip side, I’m endeavoring to offer Google what it needs to offer me the best experience of the online world as possible.

That’s putting a lot of faith in a corporation. I think they deserve it. And they’ve done their best to earn it.

What are your thoughts on Google+? Are you using it yet – and, if so, how? And if you haven’t joined the party, are you hungry to give it a try?

Other smarty pants thoughts on Google+:

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By the way, you can circle me up on Google+ by clicking here. And you can help me out immensely by clicking the +1 button below!

Continue the conversation...

26 comments on “beyond social media: I’ve seen the future and it’s name is Google+

  1. Marie Noelle says:

    I’m on Google+ but I don’t use it that much, yet. Main reason is that I invited people to join me and the answer was: I’m already on Facebook/Twitter and that’s enough for me… When I look at Google +, it does look just like Facebook… without the games… So I don’t really have any arguments in favour of G+.

    I still enjoy the few posts and interaction I have with my circles for now… but it’s limited since I MAY have 20 persons (not more) on that network…

  2. Emily Lu says:

    Don’t forget the effect of the Filter Bubble in Googling your name! By which I mean, when you Google your name on your computer or a computer that you use regularly, Google already knows that you are probably looking for yourself and well direct you directly to you. Also, the Google profile popping up on top seems to be a function of being logged in. To check this, an easy way is to try a Google search through the incognito browser… when I do that, my Google+ profile is nowhere to be found (which makes sense as it’s relatively new) but my Twitter profile is still one of the results (among the many results that have nothing to do with me).

    At least, that’s what it is for me with my relatively modest internet presence and the fact that there are at least 25 other “Emily Lu”‘s active on the internet. You and your readers’ results may vary.

  3. Albion says:

    I’m on Google+ and am loving it. I’m embracing it as a way to redefine myself. I’ve stumbled a fair bit on my journey to where I want to be regarding my crafty biz and family life. I haven’t used social media, or, indeed, the internet as a whole to my advantage or properly used resources available to me. Google+ is giving me a cleaner way to network and stay in touch. One stop shopping, as it were. Google+ jumped onto the scene at just the right time for me and my fresh start.

    • tara gentile says:

      I think a lot of people share this sentiment! Facebook has gotten really unwieldy for me as my list of “Friends” has grown past 1000+. Ugh. I still dig Twitter but like the promise of open sharing without constraints on my content.

  4. Alexis Yael says:

    Weirdly, despite having a google+ account (and using it, but not quite as much as facebook, still), my blog still appears first when I search my name, And not even my new url, my old one! Must do some SEO work, I guess :D

    I love google+ so far and I like your thoughts about web 3.0.

    • tara gentile says:

      Results definitely vary but I could imagine that they will trend to be more and more like my results and less like those who don’t see their profiles in search results at all.

      Thanks for your comment!

  5. Alison says:

    I’m conflicted. I’m happy to see something that promises to be better suited to complicated lives than Facebook, but I already struggle with Google and Gmail because I have a number of Gmail accounts and Google doesn’t really like that.

    I like Emily Lu’s comments. My real name is also quite common. That already makes me hard to identify on any social site, and difficult to find on Google.

    • tara gentile says:

      Hey Alison! The multiple account thing seems to be an issue many are facing. When I first wondered about how my account was showing up in Google results, I realized that a second account based on an old gmail address was active.

      I simply went into that account, deleted the G+ part of the profile (maintaining my email account, analytics, docs, etc…) and – whoosh! – it appears to be gone. A hassle yes but a great way to clear up that confusion.

      With a profile that’s as public as G+, it seems to me this is the best way to clear up confusion among those with common names since Facebook’s info is often hidden, websites are confusing (hope not!), and Twitter is vague at best.

  6. Patty B. says:

    So glad you did a post on this! I am so conflicted on how to use Google +. Do I keep it personal and not try to incorporate my business? Or since I AM my business how much and to what extent do I put myself out there. I feel Google + is where people run to if they don’t like facebook, so we all have to “reinvent” ourselves all over again and maybe do things differently. Now the questions becomes “where do I invest my energies” – less on facebook and more on google plus? more twitter? what about pinterest? Ahhhhhh! MY BRAIN!

    • tara gentile says:

      Hi Patty! I think the real trick here is to not let yourself compare G+ to Twitter & Facebook. Of course, comparisons are going to happen… but try to start thinking about G+ outside the social media conversation.

      Let yourself consider G+ on its own merits instead of trying to fit it into the framework you already have established. Sure, other things might need to give but if you like what’s happening at Google & think its important, as I do, it might be a good place to invest your energy.

  7. Janneke says:

    Hi Tara,

    thanks for sharing your view on Google+. It’s interesing since most posts I’ve read on it so far describe how it works, the features and what you can do with it. (which is also good, glad I didn’t have to figure everything out myself). But your article is more about the evolution of social media, our interaction with technology etc. I was a bit skeptical about G+ in the beginning, but there’s something very natural about it. It feels better than Facebook since I feel like FB is constantly watching what I’m doing. I use FB, it’s cool, but you never know whether they change things all of a sudden. And it doesn’t feel intuitive. Google+ does. In short, I hit the ‘like’ button for G+ :)

    • tara gentile says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Janneke!

      Of course, I’m interested in how-to’s and features about G+ too… but it seems to me the landscape of the net is changing and I much more interested in helping others see how that develops!

  8. I am finding it so very interesting, but hesitating on how to define its use for me. It seems that it will be a place to connect with mentors and others doing similar work. Facebook is my number one referral site and I don’t want to break that trend. I can’t see the moms I market to just moving over to G+ so I am thinking of it as my water cooler at the moment without the confusion of twitter conversations which have always felt quite challenging and not so warm and fuzzy.

  9. Oh, and a question. Do you feel at the moment that you need to now market yourself on all 3 places, such as link your posts, put your awesome quotes on, etc or are you starting to define how you use each one?

    • tara gentile says:

      Hey Hannah! I would highly recommend you check out this post:

      http://outspokenmedia.com/social-media/how-google-can-grow-without-killing-itself/

      Google+ doesn’t feel like a place where “marketing” is going to happen. It feels like it’s where the WEB is going to happen. If you’re on the web, you’re going to want to be on Google+. But no, your audience isn’t there yet and they’re not going to be for awhile. Stick with Facebook for understanding your people & offering your services to them. Adopt Google+ to do YOURSELF a favor!

  10. In addition to all the innovative features that G+ offers, the other notable experience for me is a sense of deja vu… reminds me of when I first switched from a PC to a Mac many years ago, and that feeling of being in a user environment that was made for me, not one that I had to cram myself into. And much better, aesthetically.

    So far, I’m a big fan. Just waiting to see if G+ will gain traction among the wider public.

  11. illana says:

    I am on G+ and I definitely find myself spending more time there than on the other social networks. There is something about it that feels a lot warmer and fuzzier about it than the other options (like the warm embrace of gmail after I made the switch from Yahoo years ago). It just feels so easy! And I do totally agree that it is very much more focused on the ‘me’ – how I experience the site, what I like, how I want to manage the people in my life {and control the flow of info they receive}. It seems to me to be the only platform out there that gives that power back to the user instead of gently (and not so gently) nudging us to share every damn thing that crosses our minds and every damn thing that happens to us. Facebook seems to have become a delivery system for highly targeted advertising, whereas G+ is more like a foundation to express your whole self from.

    Nice post Tara!

  12. LeAnn says:

    I already feel like I’m on social media overload–like unplug the computer and send me to cyber detox already!!!

    I’m finding it very hard to embrace YET ANOTHER must update daily social media site. I’m already getting up two hours earlier to keep up with social media and other obligations, losing valuable creative time and energy, and feeling as if it’s another part-time job. Very draining, with very occasional glimpses of something positive in return.

    • Anna says:

      LeAnn, I agree so much with your comment about the social media being “draining”. I feel like it’s an obligation above and beyond my creative output. While I LOVE being able to take marketing into my own hands, my time, every minute, is very valuable, especially in my current transition phase. I’m working full time, going to school full time and starting a business! Another commenter mentioned she is getting up 2 hours early to keep up with all the social media and, just . . .wow. I won’t do that.

      In terms of identity, I think Tara has it right, that we should embrace g+ and make the best profiles for ourselves that we can. In terms of posting and interacting, I will probably lay low. Maybe I’ll see it more like LinkedIn, I have a profile, I keep it updated, but I don’t have a bunch of “conversations” going.

      • Anna says:

        Sorry LeAnn, YOU are the one getting up 2 hours early! It’s too early for me, obviously!

  13. jeanine says:

    I’m maybe not in the same boat as others reading this site but I struggle with how much to share about myself and my business online.

    I am working to slowly build the amount of my own design projects I work on while still looking for a full-time job to help out financially. I worry that if I share too much about my own work – or even connect my real name with my blog, publicly share things on G+, etc – that it will be viewed negatively by potential employers.

    For now, I will be watching to see what happens with G+ but may use it in the future.

  14. Megan says:

    I’ve been trying to join Google+ and am having no luck. I keep seeing the same page saying it’s still in testing mode! I thought the release was last week, but doesn’t seem to appear for me. Not happy.

  15. El Edwards says:

    After the let down of Buzz and Wave I have to be honest and say I was extremely sceptical when a few of my friends on Twitter were raving about Google Plus. It also reminded me of the new Twitter switch over and I was irritated at being left out in the old!

    But then someone found me a loop hole, I got in and started to play and now I love it! I reminds me of how I’m told Twitter was in the early days. Instead of people just blasting links and spamming me, it feels like what’s being shared is the stuff people care about.

    It’s only after reading this that I’ve had the thought that maybe sharing stuff they care about is vital for people because it will be hanging around as a part of them in search results for a long time compared with a tweet which is lost from the time line relatively quickly.

    One other thing I appreciate about G+ over Facebook (aside from the lack of games!) is how it’s possible to interact with lots of different people without the bother of having to officially ‘friend’ them.

  16. Alicia says:

    I am om G+ also – and I love it! I have already had a lot more interaction on it than i have had on my Facebook page! Like El said – I also love how you can follow people without having to be friends with them – it’s like facebook and twitter put together in a way that isn’t crazy overwhelming.

    It’s so hard to find that balance between art and making stuff and then letting people know about it. So i am hoping that this will be a place that I can focus on and let the others fall away. I see a lot of promise :-)

  17. Megan says:

    I would love to join Google+, but cannot as every time I try, I get a page with a message saying it’s in “Limited Field Trial” and will keep me posted.

    What does it take to join?