It looks like yesterday’s blog post on my first reactions about Google Plus have sparked (Pun intended) a bunch of interesting feedback, all over the place, from plenty of folks out there, ranging from perhaps a bit too much excitement, or just plenty of hype or simply going far too far stating that G+ could eventually become *the* social networking tool that would rule them all. Fascinating insights, for sure! Thanks much, everyone, for sharing them along! While I am trying to keep up with all of them sharing across some additional feedback I thought I would go ahead though and put together this blog post sharing one additional thought that’s been in my mind ever since I started using Plus a few days back. Is Google Plus a Vitamin or an Aspirin?
My good friend, and fellow colleague, Louis Richardson, is a tremendously engaging public speaker with an amazing talent in delivering key, powerful messages in various different topics; one of them being Social Business. So a couple of months back he put together this brilliant presentation on the topic of Ideas @ Work that he has blogged about over at The Collaboration Soapbox and that I can strongly recommend you watch through, if you can spare 24 minutes of pure gold. It’ll be worth both the time and the effort spent in it, for sure!
One of those ideas that Louis mentions on that presentation that I actually find quite thought-provoking is how most organisations would need to look at social software within a business context. Living social for the sake of social alone is not going to take you very far. Quite the opposite. You probably wouldn’t even go beyond the One Year Challenge. However, looking into how social can help you become better at what you already do, at how you can improve your overall business performance, your employees’ productivity, engagement and morale, as well as your talent management strategy, your business revenues, your customers’ satisfaction and whatever other indicators would certainly put you on the right track towards embracing social business fully.
But he then comes to ask the key question about social business and social software tools: Are you looking for a vitamin or an aspirin? Basically, are you trying to find a quick fix for that long lasting headache you have been suffering from for a while, or are you looking for that vitamin that would make your business even stronger? Now, this may well seem a rather trivial question, but in reality, it isn’t. It’s the one that defines what your own social business strategy would be about: trying to address a business problem with a temporary patch, hoping it will go away or rather prepare yourself to overcome those business problems before they become a real issue in the first place.
It’s rather interesting, to say the least, but I am seeing that very same analogy with my use of Google Plus and the overall Social Web. Initially, after the first few days of use I thought G+ was the perfect aspirin for me to get rid of the good number of headaches I have been having with various other social networking tools. Now, don’t take me wrong. I am not saying that social software is problematic. Not at all. What I am just saying is that most of our social networking tools available out there are lacking in one way or another to provide that unique social experience we all know it’s possible to achieve at some point. In yesterday’s blog entry I hinted what some of those problems were and I stated some of the main reasons as to why I was excited to see G+ being the aspirin that addressed and fixed all of those different issues.
However, while I keep making extensive use of it, I do realise, more and more, that Google Plus is no longer the aspirin of The Social Web (Yes, it’s addressed quite nicely most of my pet peeves with a good bunch of social networking tools!), but rather that strong vitamin you take to improve that overall user experience with social tools. Yes, yesterday I mentioned how we are just talking about iteration #1 of G+, but most of us are already seeing the huge potential. Let’s face it, if you think of it as an vitamin that you take day in day out, imagine what it would do to your connections and your networks in say, 4 or 5 or 6 years, like some of the others have done so far.
Somehow G+ is starting to feel more like that vitamin the doctor recommends you take to remain strong at working through your daily routines and improve your overall health status. And I must confess that after a few days playing with it, I see plenty of healthy interactions taking place. As a starting point, I’m seeing much more profound, engaging and lasting conversations with my core networks that I never thought I would be able to develop in other social tools, unless meeting face to face. Secondly, I’m finally seeing the huge benefit of tapping into the weak ties in a meaningful manner through various Circles, without having to struggle to make sense into it, like with some of the others.
And, finally, something that is starting to make me feel even more excited about it all. And that’s the lack of sense of guilt for being unable to get the most out of my social interactions when I know I could, but that due to technical implementations, hiccups, bugs, issues, and whatever else I was always falling short behind. Google Plus has become, to me, at least, both that aspirin that fixed the temporary headaches I have been suffering from using other social networking tools and that vitamin that will surely help me continue to cultivate and nurture better relationships with those folks I care about by having more meaningful and engaging conversations without having that feeling of being on the losing end all the time.
In this case, I think things have shifted around nicely and we are about to embark on the winning end of The Social Web. Now, I do realise as well that we are at the beginning stages and we would all have to wait and see how things would pave out eventually. It’s Google after all, the one behind it, so we may need to wait for a few months to see how things would turn out, but the start, you would have to agree with me, is rather promising. Something we couldn’t say from several of G+’s counterparts when they first started up themselves. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that things won’t mess up and that it will continue to grow healthily for us all, proving there is a way to live social out there on the Web without us, social networkers, feeling the pain, but rather the opposite: enjoying the experience!
(Oh, by the way, in a follow-up blog entry to this one, the third and perhaps final one of the series, I will be sharing one other additional thought on what, to me, is the killer feature from Google Plus that many folks haven’t talked about just yet… something unique that no-other social networking tool out there is providing at the moment and that I think would highlight the future of social networking, both within the enterprise and further beyond… Stay tuned!)