Getting More People to use Google+, Part I
How Extrovert and Introvert personality type reversal on social media might be skewing perception of platform’s popularity
In a phone call a couple of weeks ago, I was asked the question: “how can Google get more people to join Google+?”. The question came up in the context of a rant I was going on about the compulsory and constant use of Facebook by casual social media users.
I had a few ideas and spoke about the way that Facebook has become integrated into almost all facets of our daily lives (ads, connecting with friends, deals, checking-in – etc, etc). One of the ways Facebook became popular was the word-of-mouth aspect of the network’s mass adoption. It came out of nowhere – had nothing associated with it… nobody knew who Zuckerberg was… it was growing up, if you will, in the public eye.
Accounts vs. Users
The quick growth of Google+ is noted often, and the millions of accounts signed up for in the short amount of time is often touted as a sign of success. I believe that this “success” is accurate… kind of… while G+ may be pushing 90M accounts, how many USERS are there? Are there numbers out there that indicate network activity? I don’t think I’ve seen any reports with these numbers — of course, I could have missed something.
Note: I am not a scientist and this is in no way a research paper or anything of an “academic” nature – these are thoughts based on my experience, observations and also concepts that I was exposed in the articles at the bottom of the post. I make some generalizations and hasty conclusions for the sake of brevity and clarity. Also, and as usual, I would love for this to turn into a discussion with solutions and additional observations!
The Issue: Mistaking Extroverted Behaviour on a Social Platform as Belonging to Physical Space Extroverts
Finally, I got to the points that we’re all used to hearing… “Well, our friends and family use Facebook” or “There’s no one I know here” or “I don’t know what to do”.
Early adoption concepts…
In order to combat these problems (I believe that Google predicted these issues), Google+ opens up in Beta – invite only – the idea of exclusivity is very powerful. Naturally, the people who were able to obtain invites were those who were somewhat tech savvy and many tech savvy people have tech savvy friends. So, the majority of 1st Gen Google+ users are tech savvy men, right? By now, we’re used to hearing that stat. These 1st gen users are not just users of the platform, but future evangelists, perhaps, of the platform – who will then tell their friends, who will tell their friends who will tell… you get the point. These users are, in effect, seeds – seeds of social influence. They are the members of their respective social groups who represent the “Tech savvy” friend or family member who will not only champion the platform to friends/family but also teach them how to use it.
G+ usage traits, and assumptions
In my experience, the interactions of active Google+ users are marked by civil, and intellectual debate and also the sharing of view points about most things you would expect people to discuss. The platform also lends itself well to the fostering of an artistic community – the ability to share photos and videos. Sharing occurs often and interactions, then, are of “high quality”. The community seems to be made up of extroverted individuals who like meeting, talking, sharing… well… socializing with each other. One could assume that these people are also fairly social offline. Because they are fairly social offline, and because of their enjoyment of Google+ with its multitudinous features and advantages – they should be telling all of those friends, right? They talk about it, right?
Early adopters’ physical space interactions are different than casual users’ physical space interactions
I think this is the issue! I believe that, and of course I cannot possibly KNOW this, the way many of us interact socially offline is much different and perhaps marked by more introverted behaviour than you might expect from us on Google+, where we feel freer to divulge our thoughts and whatnot to others. I’ve been reading several articles (linked below) that suggest that introverts flourish socially on social networks. Also – the sorts of activity (that I described earlier) mark the behaviour of introverted individuals like sustained, intellectual conversation – well thought out posts, controlling information flow and also social exposure – etc. These are some (not all) interesting quotes which have helped to form my opinion on this subject:
This quote comes from a USA Today article:
“Psychologist William Revelle of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., has been studying extroversion and introversion since 1973 and says society doesn’t always favor extroverts. “If you want to do something that requires sustained performance and paying attention for long periods of time, introversion is beneficial. We have shown for many years introverts do better on some tasks … extroverts on others.”
“Research has found that introverts are quite successful in social interactions online, find it easier to express themselves online and, in turn, oftentimes prefer it. This is because introverts feel a need to control the amount of social interaction they subject themselves to and the online world is a place where they have this ability.”
So, while G+ usage may seem to be the work of many extroverts, we are perhaps seeing the activity of introverts…
So, how do we reach the “actual” extroverts? How do we reach the people who will talk about Google+ offline and make it a part of a daily dialogue? I look to offer some possibilities in my next article.
In the meantime – do some of these things apply to you? I’m interested to see if the more active people who have me in circles fit the “user-type” I’m describing. Why aren’t your friend and family here yet?
These articles helped inform some of the opinions expressed above: