Raised to the soundtrack of British radio, but now living longer elsewhere in Europe than I ever did the UK, I adore podcasts that let me listen to things that interest me in my mother tongue. LinkedIn once gave me a badge that I still wear (online) with pride, to testify I was among its first million members. I was genuinely excited when I created my first Facebook profile, thinking how easy it was for me to control words, pictures, links, and keep in contact with friends around the world.
I’ve dabbled in blogging, collected Twitter followers, posted audio comments, written social media strategies, and according to my husband, wasted a substantial amount of time that could have been used more productively.
I like social media.
But as this week’s new social networking “bright shiny object”, Google Plus, becomes generally available I won’t be rushing out to sign-up and receive the “capacity issues” pingbacks that are either the signs of Google’s first real social networking success, or more cynically, widespread frustration with Facebook.
For PRs with a communications and marketing interest in how social networks work, our advice is to look before you leap. Instead of setting up yet another profile, and spamming my various contact databases with invitations they can’t accept, I’m in wait and see mode.
It will take several months (if not longer) to understand the real impact Google Plus will have. Who will use it – how, and for what – has become the acid test for me of whether a social network is worth its salt. All the rest is just smoke and mirrors.
It will be interesting to see how Facebook will respond to this very real threat to its current dominance. Rumors abound that it too will make a “big” announcement this week, perhaps trying to limit the loss of users, hooked on social networking but frustrated with the company’s dubious approach to data security.
One thing I like about how Google is talking about Google Plus is the priority they seem to be putting on making it easier for users to share information only with the relevant “circles” of friends. This and some of the other tools seem well thought-through, paying greater attention to the social norms of, well, normal people, not just social media fans like me.
If you are tempted to try it out, Mashable gives a good overview of why it could be worth your effort.
This interesting overview in Mind Map form at Mindmeister.com is also worth a look: http://www.mindmeister.com/de/103602816/google-plus-an-overview