Impatience among geeks is nothing new. When it comes to Google's new Google+ social media system, that impatience is easy to find expressed. Just as in the early days of each social media system we've seen, there are complaints by people that Google+ is not exciting enough or as useful as a social media service they are already using, like Twitter or Facebook.
While it's possible that Google+ will leave on the tide like the complex and unloveable Google Wave service that preceded it, or emigrate to Brazil like Google's Orkut service did, this time I think they have created a workable starting point.
It will take evolution and reinvention to go far, but so did Facebook and Twitter. They both looked just as perplexingly dull when I started using them as an outsider, but that experience passed as I became more familiar with them. If you're a social network pro and find Google+ dull, maybe you've forgotten the experience of showing up at a new club and not knowing the ropes or anyone who can show them to you! Treasure the chance to once again experience social media as ordinary users do when they first discover it...
That experience is unlike to continue for long if you engage on Google+ in ways that make it work well. I'm finding that plenty of people - especially from open source projects - have made a home on Google+. The resulting experience is less shallow than Facebook, flows better than Twitter, is less formal than LinkedIn and involves a great deal less flirting than Orkut!
Google+ is becoming for me a great resource for keeping up with the status of projects I care about, and (so far) is low on trolling and other sociopathy. That's even without using the more advanced features like Hangouts or Pages.
Here are my seven tips for making Google+ work for you, even if you're already an old hand with other social networks:.
- First and most important, post interesting stuff publicly, preferably with pictures. While you may be able to make it work, if you start out setting every post visible to a limited audience you'll probably not make it work for you. Post at least to all circles, often to extended circles and if you can usually to Public.
- When you do post, don't just post links or pictures alone. Comment on what you post, even if it's just a short Twitter-style comment. It's better if your comment complements the link or picture you are posting rather than describes it, as Google+ will usually display the first few sentences of a posted link.
- Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Google+ lets you edit your posts, so after you post, read what you wrote and go back and edit it if it needs improving. It's better not to change things too much after people have started commenting, though.
- Once people start a discussion, sometimes use the delete-comment button that appears on each comment on your own posts when you hover over them. Always remove spam; use your power sparingly to sanction trolls.
- When you find other posts that interest you, engage in intelligent and respectful discussion on other people's posts. Respect other people's discussion threads as you would a conversation you were drawn into at the next table in a cafe. It's not appropriate to take over or divert a discussion, and the person who posted the original message may well delete your comments if you do.
- When people re-share your posts, track 'ripples' (a feature on the context menu of any post that's been re-shared) and cultivate new relationships by adding those who repost the same things that interest you to your circles.
- Add people and pages to your circles liberally. You can always dial down the number of their posts you see later, or move them to a circle that doesn't post to the main timeline, or even remove them from circles altogether if it was a huge mistake.
Try those seven tips and I'm sure Google+ will become home. What other suggestions would you make to new users, especially those with good experiences of other social media systems? The Google+ thread is open!