I have been using Google + for a few days now (and no, this is not a post all about Google +) and have noticed an interesting phenomenon already. Everyone wants a “do-over” on social connectivity. Much discussion is happening around posts like, “Will you build your network differently here?” And the consensus seems to be that many people want to approach the whole concept of networking differently. Either they intend to be more selective in who they follow or add or they intend to be more rigorous in the groups (“circles” in + parlance) they form or maintain.
Another common thread is the desire to return to the halcyon early days of social networks when the novelty of connecting with other people – interesting people –was the driver behind the growth of Twitter or Facebook. You know, back before brands and marketing became the main focus of those old networks. Yes, that was a tiny bit sarcastic, I admit. Google + could potentially be much larger than Twitter given its much larger reach and the opportunity for even the most casual, non-networked internet user to be exposed to it every time someone does a search. Google + will be baked in to the search experience in a very seamless way by early indications (new “share” buttons have appeared in my gmail and my Google Reader apps already).
I remember the euphoria that accompanied my early days on Twitter, now nearly three years back, when someone new followed me. I long ago turned off “new follow” notifications because the emails were swamping my inbox. But I have the “notifications” from Google + turned on and that old feeling is back…. a little rush when someone adds me or comments on a post or shares something with me. Will it last? Probably not. Google + may end up being a better tool for personal connection, but professional networkers will soon be all over that platform and newly minted Google + jedi, knights, gurus and the like will be hawking their professional help. Soon, the who is following whom will become a game of sorts… social climbing for the 21st century.
Will anything be different in two years? Won’t Google + (or whatever is next) become what the users make of it and choose to do with it? Is a “do-over” really possible if defining relevance online via social cues – really the reason Google is doing this – will continue to be driven by who you know/are connected to and who’s talking about you, your brand, your company, your last presentation, slideshare, blog post or content bit? What do you think?