Getting More People to Use Google+ Part II: Devolve to Evolve


Getting More People to Use Google+, Part II
Creating Stand-alone G+ elements for websites to increase casual-user familiarity

Part I, Introverts and Extroverts here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115516333681138986628/posts/BXZdyGRxfA7

Background – Not Everyone is a “Power User”
When I say “Power User” I don’t just mean people who are popular or influential on social networks, I’m talking about people who are technologically inclined – and can figure out how to work basic systems (search engines, social networks etc) fairly quickly.

One of the accusations that Google higher-ups loath to be reminded of is that Google has a hard time with the “human” side of things. Another criticism I read recently accuses Google of thinking that all internet users are “power users”, when really most people are “casual users”; the average internet user doesn’t know how to search efficiently using Boolean search methods, they just want to find information!

(this article by +Jeremiah Owyang is what I reference above: http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2012/02/09/google-has-a-perception-problem/)

So how does this relate to their social media efforts? Well, once again, Google has shown that they are fully capable of pumping fantastic designs and technical skill into the creation of Google+. They created their own social network and it is awesome. It has a ton of great features and allows for people to be in full control of their experience. The interface has aspects that users have run into on other social networks so it should be fairly intuitive, right?

Well, maybe not.

Other Social Networks have benefited from slow growth

Other social networks, I’m thinking mostly of Facebook – but Twitter works as an example as well, started off with a fairly simple set of elements. Facebook had a profile, pictures, and a wall you could write on. As time went on Facebook began to implement slightly more complex elements – but the features came in slow enough that by the time they were ready to be implemented, users had already become familiar enough with the old elements to be able to absorb the new elements without much trouble. To give you an example of how slow these elements came into being – it took two years for a user to be able to post non-textual content to another user’s wall! Wow!

Twitter had even less to consider – short messages, a main stream, Following and posting. Twitter has gone through relatively little change in its lifetime.

Google+, haven’t been built considering existing social network models, already allows you to post videos/images/links and check-ins. Think about the decision you have to make when you post on Google+. Before you even get to make your first post – you already have to decide how you’re going to present your content (is it a movie? A link?) how you’re going to format it (italics, bold?) and who you are going to share it with, and you definitely want to hide it from and whether or not you are going to allow or disable resharing. This seems fairly simply and intuitive to us, maybe, but to someone who had to have their hand held through Facebook’s evolution – this is a lot to consider – a lot to do… and this is just making a simple post! This is before Circles are created, this is before you figure out where to find games, this is before you figure out how to post pictures and organize your albums. We’re just talking about POSTING!

Well, how do we introduce Google+ to these users without frightening them with an entirely new platform and interface without scaring them or making the whole “new social network” concept exasperating to them?

Break G+ down into individual parts and allow those parts to exist on websites – aka keep it simple

Create a comment box system – create an embeddable photo sharing/organizing system – allow there to be “Website Circle” – where people who frequent sites and interact on certain websites… let’s say a cooking website… or a weight loss website… can Circle automatically other G+ users who use that website so they can have a small community there.

Don’t force them to come to plus.google.com

Let them stay where they are!

Allow people to be “G+ users” without being on G+ proper. That way they get used to these parts and then can come to G+ proper and find a hub built around an element that they are already used to. If they are familiar with just the commenting system – they can figure out how the rest of G+ works in relation to the comment system – it gives them a reference point – a comfort zone.

Make it worthwhile for website owners/brands to host G+ elements

Also – by emphasizing that these elements will still appear in social search (SPYW) websites would be silly not to embed these separate elements into their site. This is a good way to get businesses here, too.

Finally – there has to be a way to build a better action management system – based off of the +1 tab model. We have a tab that keeps track of our +1′s, why can’t we have a tab that keeps track of our conversations – or other activities that we participate in on these websites. Making sure that people can keep track of all the stuff they do (and allow them to show it off if they wish, social networks are at least partially about ego – which is not necessarily a bad thing). Adding tags to actions taken offsite (off G+ that is), will also be useful for brands/websites because it may create more inbound traffic to those sites. We already have a model for this on G+, look for posts that have +1′s on www.youtube.com … other opportunities could exist like: commented on X article on www.website.com

By spreading these elements around – and making it easy to embed these elements into websites – Google+ would be able to reach into a ton of micro-communities – and making interaction in those communities easier – and also worthwhile for the website!

Devolve to Evolve

Let these casual users get used to it before you have them jump into the pool of familiar but new elements of the Google+ social network. Instead of making them come to your site – go to them. Allow them to let you into their community… they’ll come around :)

One Response to “Getting More People to Use Google+ Part II: Devolve to Evolve”

  1. Verda Khan
    February 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Enjoyed this entry very much.
    They’ll come around. Yes. Just the way I have returned to it permanently now.

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