Sunday, July 31, 2011

Does Social Media have a soul?

I spend a lot of time online reading tech blogs (e.g. TechCrunch, Mashable) - trying to keep up with the latest and hottest apps and web 2.0 companies... and I always have the same feeling when I am done reading the posts --- it's a feeling of emptiness. It's like when your starving and you eat a whole bag of potato chips, and realize the empty calories didn't satisfy you. Or is it worse???  I don't know... but I feel like we have sold our soul to "click economy".

What is the "Click Economy"??? It's what drives Silicon Valley. It's what motivates entrepreneurs. It's driven by the collective ego of the Internet - where the one who dies with the most clicks...wins.

Does anyone find this ironic??? Social Media is making us less human?  Don't get me wrong, I am not arguing that Social Media makes us less social (I do believe it helps bring people together like no other medium in history)..... I am talking about being "human". I am talking about what makes us unique - our ability to devote our lives to improve the lives of everyone. I am talking about compassion. I am talking about making the world a better place.

It seems every new company I read about is turning us into mice ... clicking for cheese. The applications help us book tickets easier, or help us find where we parked, or helps us "shop better".... really??? Is this what the greatest minds coming out of Stanford working on??? Shopping?

Are the Einsteins of our generation focused on creating the next best App for the IPhone??? or are they working on projects that will change our world for the better?

Unfortunately I think the bright minds are sucked into the Click Economy - lured by the collective conscious of Silicon Valley all chanting in unison "How many clicks can you get us?"

And when I say "change the world".... I am talking about simple things that improve the way we live as a society. I am not expecting anyone to spend their life trying to cure a disease or map the human genome.... I am talking about apps that actually help humanity. Applications that make us better people... make us human.

Instead of building applications that help us get the "best deals".... perhaps we could launch companies that help us find community projects that we can participate or support.  Instead of "group buying" perhaps we can find ways of getting people to gather in groups to help get out the vote.  Instead of "checking in" to get a badge - maybe we could "check-in" and the business would donate a dollar to charity. I realize there are a few companies out there that are doing good things... but it's too few.

Why can't social media be socially responsible? Why has our "value" as people been reduced to a click. Why can't every company give something back to the universe - if not out of good will - at least out of the interest of self-preservation. If the "click economy" continues without a soul - it will die. And we will all be left with nothing.

Are we mice? or are we human?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friend vs. Follow

Now that we are getting to the end of the honeymoon stage with Google+ .... and we have a few weeks under our belt using the service.... I wanted to talk a little about how G+ will be different from Facebook.

First and foremost.... G+ is nothing like Facebook. This is not a good or a bad statement - I am just trying to get any notion out of your head that the two services will have any similarity. Or if you are asking "Do I use Facebook or G+???" - the answer is most likely both.

When people ask me "How is it different?" - the answer is actually is simple - Friend vs. Follow.

On Facebook, the currency is "Friends". You have the ability to ask someone to be your friend, ability to invite friends, and you have the ability to deny friends. It is a pro-active system that connects people based on both agreeing to be connected.

Example:

1. John sends a friend request to Mary
2. Mary receives friend request. Decides to "accept" or "ignore"
3. Mary accepts friend request
4. John and Mary are now friends (connected on FB)

On Google+ ... is it different. There is no "friend request" - there is only "follow". On G+ it is driven more by who you want to follow (or put in your circles). Instead of having a double opt-in friend request transaction - the concept of "following" someone is a one-way relationship.

Example:

1. John finds Mary on Google+
2. John adds Mary to his circle "Friends"
3. John now gets updates on Mary
4. Mary will be notified John is "following" her - but no further action is needed.

This may not seem like a huge difference (especially if on Google+ John follows Mary, and Mary follows John) - but it actually is a HUGE difference because this is the context in how the network will grow and form to be completely different than Facebook.

Here are some reasons:

1. Abuse. There is really no way to abuse G+ like you can with Facebook. People send me friend requests all the time (even though they may not be my friends) - and in most cases I accept their request, because I am open to meeting new people and also because it adds to my social influence on Facebook (you see, even I am abusing Facebook). So why is this abuse??? Because it goes against the basic fundamentals of Facebook's origin - which is "Only accept Friend requests from real Friends" --- this principle is what keeps the value of the network high, and reduces the noise (e.g. SPAM) from your feed.  And simply having the ability to blindly invite hundreds of people to be your friend, and getting most of them to blindly accept creates an environment of abuse, spam and clutter - which ultimately reduces the value and fun of the Facebook experience.

2. More Real (and Real-Time). There is something about the context of G+ that makes it seem more real. It could be that we are early in it's life cycle and there are fewer users - but I am not sure that is a factor anyway. Don't get me wrong I think Facebook has a lot of "real" going on.... but it's different. I think the Message is the Medium when it comes to Facebook. More and more messages (posts) I see on Facebook strike me like "shouts" and not really anchored in any personal thought or intelligence. On Google+ - the posts seem much more thought out, reflective and real. Even from the "celebrities of Google+" like Tom from MySpace, or Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki, etc --- their posts are more personal - and a little quirky (which is a true sign of real).

Here is a good example. Arianna Huffington (founder of Huffington Post). She has a Page on Facebook, and a profile on G+. I can follow both.  But look at how different they are:


This is her Facebook Page. It looks "corporate" and the feed (although it may be her posting, but I doubt it) - seems more forced... than real (and more importantly real-time).

Here is her latest post on G+


As you can see - its from her phone - you feel like your seeing news through her eyes, and it is more real-time.

This is the result of G+ choosing to be more like TWITTER in how they setup relationships - but leveraging a social graph to help people organize their relationships better than TWITTER.

3. Because it's Google.  The third major reason I think G+ will be completely different than Facebook, is because it's Google who is doing it. There is a huge advantage when you innovate new products, if you don't have to "sell out" to pay the bills. Google already has a money-making machine, and doesn't need to force their social network to be something it's not - just to find sources of revenue.  Everything beautiful in this world is created where money is not a driver. This is a huge advantage as they continue to build out the service, and something Facebook does not have the luxury for too much longer.

Let me know how you guys use G+ different than Facebook.

FOLLOW ME ON G+

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I got my G+ Profile back... but I lost a little something in the Process

Well, good news... My Google+ Profile was turned back on.... after 4 days of sitting at home staring at my computer screen... waiting for any sign of hope... .... it finally came early Monday....


I had mixed feelings after reading this email.... on one hand, I was excited to get back on Google+ so I could comment on "Tom from MySpaces" posts reassuring him it wasn't his fault MySpace sucked... and more importantly back to my quarrel with Robert Scoble (who innocently claims he had nothing to do with me getting shut down, but I think we all know the truth)......where was I??? Oh yeah... YES! I was excited to be back on the "cool people's network".... but then I read the LAST LINE on the email......

Sincerely, Ricky.

Are you F***ing kidding me??? I got shut down by a guy named "Ricky" with no last name.... ISN'T THAT THE REASON THEY ARE SHUTTING PEOPLE DOWN???? Because they are not using their real and full name????  And the hatchet man, the terminator of accounts, the angel of google death is named RICKY???

Do you know what image came into my head after reading this???


Thanks a lot "Ricky"..... I am now forever living in fear of you..... and this image will haunt me everytime I log into Google+ ..... wondering if I got shut down again.....

Sincerely,

Rich

Monday, July 25, 2011

Google+ Deleted my Profile.... Here are best guesses why?

Well, I logged into my Google+ account this weekend, only to be greeted by this nice "welcome to our new social network that we are desperately wanting everyone to love"


"Your Profile is suspended"

Apparently I violated their Community Standards (which by the way - when you click on the link it goes to a blank page). So after looking through their short list of standards, nothing really popped out at me as something I did... so I decided to list a few things I did do on Google+ - that may have triggered my suspension.

Here are my best guesses at why I have been kicked out of Google+

1. I called Mark Zuckerberg an asshole. This was the first thing that I thought... ok, maybe Google+ doesn't like free speech.... and although I was criticizing their competitor - perhaps they felt it was too harsh. Maybe they are following the FCC guidelines on censorship??? Or maybe Mark Zuckerberg sent a nice letter on Facebook letterhead to Google+ management -

"To whom it may concern, My name is Mark Zuckerberg, and I am not an asshole. Please cease and desist all references to me as Asshole, Prick, Douche-bag or otherwise."

2. I disagreed with Robert Scoble. For those of you who don't know Robert Scoble, he is a technofiliac who dominates discussion on Google+ constantly voicing his opinions on features and functionality... bordering on whining.... I like him, but he can be annoying at times (and by "times" I mean all the time). Anyway, we got into a little "comment disagreement".... so perhaps that is what did me in. I can see the email from Robert to Google now.

"Larry and Sergey, This is Robert. We need to do something about this guy Rich Swier... I am sure you heard by now, but he disagreed with one of my posts... and so I expect his profile to be eliminated immediately. Also, can you please add more emoticons to G+... like :) and ;) ... it would really make the service more user-friendly..."

3. I have the same name as my father.  As some of you know, I share the same name as my father, who is a political blogger and happens to effectively piss of every man, woman, child I know.... so I can only assume he posted a blog on how Google+ causes gayness, or how it is run by radical Jihadists (which I actually might agree with)..... either way... I am sure one of his blogs was place in front of the G+ folks....and they deleted all profiles with the word "Swier" in it....

4. I posted a blog asking for more features.  Another potential reason, could have been my blog post "Five Things I would like to see in Google+ (an open letter to Vic @ Google)"  where I asked the head of G+  to consider adding some features..... which apparently is a "no-no".... I can only assume this was what hap penned when a google employee put this blog in front of Vic

"What the F*** is this piece of SHIT????? Do you know who I am ... I am the man who created Google+ ... and you bring me some blog article from a nobody who wants GMAIL INTEGRATION (sarcastic tone)... this isn't Burger King asshole....is their a F***ing sign on my door that says "Whoppers 99 cents???"....

Oh, well... these are my best guesses... I guess until Google tells me why, I will fill out this form, piss in a cup to verify my identity... and hope for the best


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Five Things I would like to see in Google+ (an open letter to Vic @ Google)

Ok, Vic... I am a big fan of G+.... but here are small things I would like to submit as feature requests for G+ 2.0.

1. Integration into GMail.  I love Gmail. But one thing I am not good at is keeping my contacts updated. I know the guy from Plaxo is sitting right behind you - so I assume this feature is done, and your just teasing us... but if it's not - please make it happen. I would like my friends in G+ be automatically available in my Contacts (and their info be automatically updated if they update their profile).  And even better, would be to automatically categorize them in my contacts by the circles I create. So if I have a FRIENDS circle in G+ - you create a category in my GMail Contacts called Friends (and put the contacts there).

I'll even you give you a buzz word "Social Mail" - make sure you give me a shout out on Techcrunch next time.

2. Allow me to Share my Circles.  It would be cool to be able to use Circles as "groups"... for example if I create a circle called "My Softball Team".... to be able to share my circle (e.g. ask people in the circle to join - like a group). This would automatically create a circle on their account, and allow them to post to the same people.  I feel this could be a cool way create "relevant streams".... instead of just having general circles (like Friends, People at Work, etc).... streams that have relevance to more than one person (e.g. softball team) - will have more relevance to those people in the group.

3. Ability to increase or decrease posts from people in my circle. I realize this may be done in the algorhythm - but it would be cool to manually tell you which friends I want to hear more from, and which ones I don't want to hear from so much. Much like the "Mute this post" function, just simply put something that says "I want more" and "I want less" ---- and then my streams will be more enjoyable. Some people in my circle I like, but if they post a hundred times a day - I start to look for the "remove from circle" button.

4. Vanity Link to my Profile.  It would be nice to have a simple URL to point people to my Profile... instead of plus.google.com/797987987969687685   ... something like plus.google.com/richswier would be nice.

5.  Create a Follow Me button - I am sure this is coming with the G+ API...but it would be nice to have a "Follow Me" button to embed on a website or blog - so people can easily add you to their following circle.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why Google should not let businesses on Google+



In a few weeks Google is planning to open up Google+ to businesses to setup their own accounts. On Facebook these are called Pages. Essentially differentiating between a person and a business. Unless those guys have thought of something that defies the laws of social media degradation and has had Tom from MySpace on speed dial during development ... I think this is a big mistake to let business ruin Google+.

Please Google....don't let businesses on Google+.

Based on my experience with facebook, most businesses do not understand that over-posting doesn't make people want to trade in their gold..it only makes people hate you. I am not sure what makes businesses think that posting impersonal shout outs on everyone's wall is a sure fire way to get people to pile into your store. Unfortunately there are some businesses that do follow netiquette and try to engage their followers with meaningful messages that suffer because of all the noise created by spammers.

Facebook tries to minimize the abuse and noise by making businesses create pages and not profiles. Of course people abuse that too....but for the most part Facebook can manage your stream and of course you can always stop following a page. But this is really not what I am afraid of....it's more the tone it sets. If google allows businesses to be on google+ then it sets an impersonal tone to users saying "ok...the fun personal talk is over...now come the commercials". To me it has the potential of ruining a very vibrant and interesting conversation happening right now....and turning it into a faceless exchange of digital business cards with no souls.

It will make people think their boss is watching even though he is not in their circle. It will make people fear losing their job because they can be linked back to a business page. The party will be over. And we will all have to get back to work.

No matter what happens....stay gold pony boy.

Seven Things I Love about Google+ ...



Here are some of the things I love about Google+ (or more to the point - hate about Facebook).....

1. No poking. Seriously... why on earth would anyone poke you??? This feature was probably created by Mark Z. in version 1 of FB, and that is the reason it's still there.... I can see the developers now - "accidentally" deleting the code for "POKE" each time they upgrade.... and Mark throwing a fit in the meeting --- (in my best Mark Zuckerberg impression) - "ummm, guys... I logged in this morning... and didn't see the POKE button... can someone please tell me who the %&$ is CEO here??? MEEEEEE....%$*#($*%% .... that's who...."

2. Better News Feed. I think the News Feed in Facebook is useless. It is probably because I have more (facebook) friends than I should... but I also think it could do a lot better finding out what posts I like. It forces me to basically kick someone out of my feed forever, which may not be what I want. With G+ I have my circles, and if I am in the mood to see what my close friends are doing I can click on that circle, and if I want to read random ramblings of people I barely know - I have a circle for that too....

3. No Farms.  If I get another request to join someone's farm - I am going to kill someone. Starting with Last names that start with Z. Watch your back Mark - Mafia Wars is not just a game.

4. Privacy.  This of course is the big thing everyone talks about - but very few people really understand. Facebook's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy is a joke. They change it whenever they want, and whether you know it or not - they own everything you have done there, everything you will do there. I am not saying Google is any better - but based on their track record and so far their approach/concern for privacy - my guess is they will be better (because it is their competitive advantage to be better).  

5. Simplicity. I enjoy innovation and new applications... but I am also a realist - and know if it is not "simple" - then no one will use it - especially me.  Facebook started off simple, but then they went on this bi-polar development rage that took something elegant and useful, and made it into Social-Sausage. Google has the advantage of their platform being more spread out (they can have other applications like Gmail, Picasa (photos), Blogger, Calendar, etc without screwing up G+1).  To me that is what Google is best at - taking a relatively cumbersome, slow process and making it simple and fast.  Just like they did with search... they are now doing with social networking.

6. Photos. Let's face it... photos is a big part of social networking. Everyone wants to share photos. Facebook's photo interface sucks. Google not only made it slicker - they also streamlined it by allowing you automatically upload your photos on the phone to your Google Photos account - and then give you the option to share. I love this, because it brings together my personal Photo albums (which I want to save forever) and allows me to share what I want.  Facebook doesn't.

7. I hate Mark Zuckerberg.  "Hate" is a strong word, but let's face it - the guy is kind of a douche.  (just kidding Mark, I'll poke you later)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why Google+ is the beginning of the end for Traditional Media....



One of the coolest things about Google+ is that you are able to follow people that you may not know (much like Twitter, but better)..... I realize this sounds creepy, and slightly like stalking.... but it's actually ok, because you only see the posts they want the public to see... and the people I follow for the most part are bloggers, entrepreneurs, editors, etc (people who want to be followed).

Why is it cool???  Because you get to hear the "news" straight from them. When a write of the popular tech-blog Techcrunch posts something on G+ he is unfiltered and not hindered by the constraints of an editing staff.  Another example, is following the CEO of Google... you get to see first hand what he is thinking as well, or simply see the human side of him when he posts pictures of himself wind surfing.

I realize this sounds like a new "paparazzi" following celebrities around hoping to catch a glimpse of something absurd... but that is really not why I feel this is cool.... the reason why this is so powerful, is that it is the beginning of the breakdown of tradition media (which I hate btw).

I know what your thinking - "Yeah, but Twitter does the same thing - so why is this so different???".

Twitter was never really a social network - it is micro-blogging. And as weird as it sounds... the message is the medium. Because Twitter launched as a micro-blogging platform which is a one-to-the-world communication - people use it only for that purpose. It's too late to change. Much like how Facebook chose to be a "uber-social" network being launched out of the colleges - it also is stuck in it's path it chose.

With Google+ - they have built something that not only allows people to be themselves, be personal and also be a voice to the public - it creates an attitude among the users (including the CEO's, editors, Industry leaders, and John Doe) that it's ok to be "real" and to speak your mind..... and if you feel like you want a few people to hear it, or the whole world... you have the ability to determine that for the first time.

The power of this medium, is that the messages are different. You can already see that if you use the service... the posts are not the same as Twitter or Facebook. The Posts seem to be more thoughtful, more real (in some cases) and less trivial.

So why is Google+ going to end Traditional Media???

Simple... why wait to read the news tomorrow, when you can read it directly from the writer when they post on Google+?

Why not follow Arianna Huffinton on G+ (https://plus.google.com/103233967921245494760/posts) instead of visiting her blog? Or follow Robert Scoble (https://plus.google.com/111091089527727420853/posts) if you want to know what is happening in the valley?

Want to know what Michael Dell is thinking??? Follow him - https://plus.google.com/100523784851251213675/posts

Why wait for the traditional media, if you can see pictures of what really is happening being posted by people on the street (e.g. Citizen Journalists). We have already seen this happen on Twitter... but because Twitter is so difficult to navigate and lacked the multimedia (until now) to really create a more visual and expressive medium it has only been effective in a handful of major events (Hudson crash, Egypt, Weinergate, etc)

If you want to see who is "most followed" on G+ - or if you want to search for someone you would like to follow this is a cool website just launched - http://www.findpeopleonplus.com

Don't be afraid to follow, it just may help us kill traditional media as we know it - and that would be a very good thing.....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Google+ Video (Very basic introduction)

I have watched a lot of videos on G+ ... but this one seemed to break it down the best in a very simple explanation of what G+ is.... for those of you who have no idea (or are new)... definitely watch this video

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My first (random) Hang Out on Google+

This morning I decided to check out the Google+ Hang Out Feature in more detail. I had tried it once already to chat with some co-workers on my trip - and it worked great. It is definitely more convenient than skype or other video chat services, because 1) It's integrated with G+ - so its easy to find friends and 2) You can run it anywhere without having to install software, etc.

BUT.... what I really wanted to see is how people would use Hang Out in a more public setting. Where people open up video conference chats and allow anyone to join. My initial fear.... Chatroulette on steroids. I am not sure I could handle 9 people with their pants off at the same time.

Lucky for me, the first experience was very tame. This popped up on my feed, and it seemed interesting.


Mohamed is one of the great tech minds I have met...he does a lot of amazing Google Chrome work.. anyway... I joined in on the chat. There were people logged in from all over the world - one guy from India, another from Africa. It was entertaining to listen in to the conversation, because of the wide range of interests. For the first few minutes, the conversation focused mostly on Google+ and how to best use the Hang Out feature. 


This was the first time I saw Google Hang Out work in an "unorganized" chat - where everyone is talking, and having fluid conversation. Occasionally it would get clunky because the picture changes to whomever is dominating the conversation (which is cool in a controlled environment, but a little hectic when everyone is talking)..... but I quickly found you have the option to click on the video thumbnail of the person you want to watch.  

So what did I learn about Google+ Hang Out

1. It is definitely a tool that can be used for work or personal use to easily video chat with your friends. To me it is better than skype because you can have more than one person (for free) on the chat, and you don't have to deal with everyone having a skype account. It will be more likely someone will be on G+.

2. The second thing I learned is that people are truly using video as part of the social networking experience. Once I got involved in the conversation, it quickly because more social than tech. I even forgot for a moment I was on a computer... it really felt like I was hanging out with these guys talking about technology, Google, etc. For the first time - I saw the power of social networking using video chat. Pretty cool. 





Friday, July 15, 2011

Google+ and SEO



(Note: Only waste your time reading this if you care about better rankings for your website in Google.)

In my last post I mentioned how GOOGLE+ can help Your rankings in Google search.  I want to give a more in depth look into this....

You will notice Google has implented the +1 button in its search engine...and also allows people to embed on their websites as well (much like the facebook like button).

They are using the +1 to not only improve their search results for Everyone but also using this to personalize results for You.  This is the real reason why Google+ is so valuable to Google (and you) . They will learn what you like and build a better search engine and deliver better ads.  Thus making their ecosystem more powerful and relevant.

So how does this effect SEO and your rankings.   The more people who +1 Your site the better rankings you will have.

Tip #1 - Get people to +1 your website. 
You can embed the +1 on. Your site to make it easier for people as well. Go to http://code.google.com/apis/+1button/ to learn how.

Next thing that will help boost your SEO will be links from posts on Google+1.   The posts have to be public in order for Google search to index them. You can start by posting links on Your own profile.  Don't spam or post too much - this can hurt you. 

Tip #2 - Public posts on G+ to Your site will help your rankings

This includes any links to your website from a post, but also more importantly how many people +1 or share your link. This data will become part of Google's algorithm on how they rank the importance of your website. Much like how they look at the "number of links" to your site... now they will also factor in "number of shares and +1s".  So, find creative ways to include your website into comments (for example, blogs, new articles, videos, etc)

Example Post: "Hey everyone, I just took a trip to New York, check out the great restaurants I visited on my blog at http://startupflorida.blogspot.com." (and attache a couple photos).

(note: make sure you post to "PUBLIC" or else Google won't index in the search results)

Tip #3 - Optimize your Profile with relevant keywords

One of the things Google will also look at is the content within your profile. This is how they will determine some of the basic keywords they will attach to content you post. If the word "actor" shows up a lot in your profile, then Google will consider this in how they place your links.  The more "social" content becomes, the social profile is the anchor to all the content your post. If your profile is empty or inactive, then this will be a negative in Google's eyes.... so complete your profile and make sure you include information that is relevant to who you are and how you want to rank.

If you find any other tricks let me know - follow me on G+ here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

GOOGLE +1 for Beginners (Step 1: Create Circles)



I have been getting a few comments, emails from friends asking me about the basics of Google+1. I thought it would be good to write down some basic points on what I have learned using the service.

First let me give you a good analogy.

Google+1 is more like a dinner party - where you were invited, and you know most the people there, and the few you don't you quickly get to know through your "circle" of friends.

Facebook is more like a crowded bar - where you come with a few friends, and recognize a lot of people by face (but don't really know their name) - and most the people in the bar you just want to ignore.

(don't forget to add me to your following circle - http://goo.gl/5MYD1)

CIRCLES

The main reason why they are so different is because Google+ gives you the ability to create CIRCLES.  In basic terms, a Circle is simply a grouping of people. You may have a family circle, a friends circle, a work circle... or go even more specific and have a "Friends at Gym Circle" or a "Softball Team Circle".  This is how you keep your posts relevant to people in your network.

For example, if you post pictures of the Softball Game last night and only select the CIRCLE = "Softball Friends"... then they will only see it. It makes the post more relevant to the people who see it... and more importantly it doesn't clutter up what other people may see (which eventually if you post a lot, they will remove you).

You can direct your POSTS to who WANTS to see them, and who you WANT to see. This makes the content on Google+ MUCH MORE RELEVANT and valuable to both the sender and reader.

CIRCLES is what will keep Google+ from becoming an overwhelming flood of messages that are difficult to prioritize (e.g. Facebook)..... into a very elegant way to view posts.

SUGGESTIONS:

  1. Create a Circle for work, for friends and for family (atleast). If you are involved in other groups (like clubs, sports, etc) then form circles for those as well. Remember you can add a friend into multiple circles. So for example, you can add your friend John into your FRIENDS CIRCLE and your SOFTBALL CIRCLE.
  2. Remember you can always share with EVERYONE (Google calls this PUBLIC) which means if you share a post with the PUBLIC than everyone in the world can see it. They also have the ability to share with YOUR CIRCLES which would be sharing with everyone in your circles. (So there is no need to create a circle with everyone in it)
  3. The smaller the Circle the better. Google+ ranks posts higher if they are shared with a smaller circle versus a larger circle (this also reduces the SPAM effect you see on Facebook). For example, if I have 4 friends in one circle (BEST FRIENDS) and 150 friends in another circle (ALL FRIENDS)... and I share the same post to BEST FRIENDS it will show up higher in their stream versus if I share it with ALL FRIENDS.
  4. When creating circles - don't think just SOCIAL.... think of how you communicate in real life to people. There are some things you only want to share with Family... and some things you may only find relevant to people at Work. Use Circles to increase your engagement with Google+1.  Think about posts, articles you share, photos you post, videos you think are funny, videos you think are educational, etc..... sharing is now secure and focused. Use it.
More to come......

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

GOOGLE+ (10 cool ways to use it) --- Final Installment

I am finishing off my post with the final four things that are cool uses for Google+.  The last two posts are here and here.

(follow me on Google+ here)

I already hit all the key features... so here are some things that are a little more obscure and some things that I would like to see happen (which I am sure Google is +1 ahead of me)

7.) Gmail and +1.  If you are like me - you never really liked the way email works.  It just feels like someone throws 100 envelopes at you in the morning and you spend all day picking them up and reading them - in not particular order or priority. It really doesn't make sense.  If I get an email telling me I am the lucky winner of 10,000,000 euros - I want that to be the first one I open :)

Enter +1 ---- I have a gut feeling that we will soon be able to integrate G+ Circles and our messaging. This may be the best thing since PB&J.  If I could sort my emails by circles in an easy way... and automatically set priorities on which ones are important, personal vs. work - and most importantly which ones are from people I don't even know (e.g. blocking spam).... that would be great.

Integrating social networking and email. Could be very cool. (also, it would be nice to have my Contact Database on my Gmail and my Google Phone be always up to date - synced with G+ accounts).

8.) Sparks.  What is a spark? First, It's weird Google would use such an obtuse name. Usually Google branding defaults to literal terms like Mail, Docs, Photos... and suddenly they start using fancy branding like "sparks" and "huddle". Anyway... what is a spark? Apparently it is simply information you get excited about. If you want to follow the latest news on a topic... you setup a spark.

Essentially, it creates a very personal news feed within +1... which can be very cool. I am using it to track news about businesses I follow, but also to track things that I am interested in. For example: I happen to be in NYC this week, and I tracked "New York Restaurants" --- and it gave me some cool things to read about openings, reviews.

I am not sure how "sparks" fits into the whole strategy of Google+1 - - - but I think it can be a cool feature if you just put some thought around relevant feeds you want to follow. I would use it more for "real time" stuff... and I think you will see more value.

9.) SEO.  If you are in the "biz"... and trying to get your website higher rankings on Google. Well guess what... Google is using +1 in their search and also favoring websites that are linked from within the +1 network..... so start making it a habit to post links to your website when relevant (don't spam because that will hurt you).

10.) Viewing Profile as.... in case you didn't see this feature - it is the best thing for people who are nervous that the picture they just uploaded of them drunk at the Holiday party won't be seen by their boss... they can easily double check by using this feature.... what a great idea (once again making it clear that Google wants you to use it for personal and business....)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

GOOGLE+ (10 cool ways to use it) --- continued....

Here is the 2nd installment of GOOGLE+ (10 cool ways to use it)

For the first article go here.

4.) Share your Location. One of the big issues with "geo-location" features in social media applications is privacy. Nobody wants to be tracked all the time, so anyone can see their location... and many times "checking in" (ala Foursquare) is hard to remember too... but with G+ you can include your location (optionally) when you post.  Its a great way to trigger a meetup.... (and you can share only with the people you want to using circles, which makes it great for people who have hundreds of stalkers).

At some point, I am sure they will add Google Places, and essentially be another Foursquare-like app.

5.) Huddle.  Group messaging is an absolute must if you want to truly have a powerful social networking platform. For some reason, Facebook missed the boat on this one (they bought Beluga but haven't done anything yet). Huddle allows you to easily send a text message to numerous people, and begin a group chat. This can be an amazing tool for quick "mobile" meetings with select co-workers or if your traveling with a bunch of people on a trip and want to keep track of everyone. The uses are endless and by Google putting this feature in release 1 of G+ means they are serious about mobility.

6.) Group Chat.  With Google Hangout... they really create a whole new layer of awesomeness on +1. The fact you can easily bring numerous people to a video-chat window is so cool, you will want to do it, just to do it. I may even use this in the office, instead of walking down the hall.

more to come later....

GOOGLE+ (10 cool ways to use it)

"let me count the ways...." - Shakespeare

As I continue to work thru Google+1 I find myself seeing all the possibilities of using G+ in my daily life (including work of all things - which doesn't make sense??? I thought social networking was about not HAVING to do work).

If you read my last article, I touched on some key differences between G+ and Facebook... I'll touch on some more here as well.

But first lets talk about what cool things you can do with G+ that you maybe didn't think of:

1. Social Bookmarking - This may be the most basic function within Google+ but it may go unnoticed to some people who never got into Delicious, Technorati, etc. Essentially, when you +1 a link its not just about sharing the link, but it also bookmarks the link in your Google+ profile.  (click on your profile, and then click on "+1s".).

I use this as a way to bookmark links I want to revisit later in the day, or blogs I want to read in the future. It allows you to easily delete the link when your done as well.

2. A Better Twitter - I often get asked "Why do people use Twitter?". My answer usually discusses the value of having a real-time news feed and ability to follow people who have influence in your industry or access to information you are interested in. In short, I only found Twitter useful as a "read-only" medium. Primarily because I rarely feel people read my "tweets". So it's always been a one-way medium for me, and probably for most people. With G+1 it makes "tweeting" or micro-blogging more of a two-way, because it is built on a more natural social network.  

I can "follow" people (just like twitter), but the content is displayed much more like Facebook (with embedded pictures, comments, etc). It just feels more powerful and interactive then Twitter.

So, something you may not do - but should - is find some people you want to "follow" and see what they post. For example, I follow the CEO of Google, a few Venture Capitalists in the Valley, and other people (that I don't know, but interested in what they post). FOLLOW on G+ by adding people to your Following circle... its a BETTER TWITTER.

3. A Professional Image - One of the biggest weaknesses of Facebook is that it was born as a pure social network for college kids. Thus, there was never any real consideration for people who have jobs, that don't want their friend to share photo of them doing tequila shots at the local bar with no shirt on. Thus, most people avoid "friending" their coworkers or anyone in their professional "circle".  (which is why networks like LinkedIn, FastPitch even exist).

But now with Google+ ... you are given more freedom and ability to build professional circles, and keep your personal life and professional life separate online. Although it doesn't come close to replacing the features native in LinkedIn, FastPitch - it does introduce another network where sharing with co-workers is "ok".

So I suggest taking baby-steps in building an online relationship with your co-workers.... ultimately this will help business-oriented social networks - because people will become more disciplined and take the time to learn how to be "professional" online. 

These are three cool things you can begin to use G+ for.... more to come later.




Monday, July 11, 2011

GOOGLE+ vs. Facebook


I just got my invite to Google+ and I have had some time to poke around.  Here is my take on G+ versus Facebook.

1. Google circles is really the key differentiation.  Allowing people to select who they want to share content to makes social networking more pertinent.  In facebook its too difficult to set this up and too cumbersome to go back and make lists work.  Google starts off right by making people build circles thus making there experience more relevant and giving you a sense of content control.

2. Google allows for you to follow too. Like twitter you may want to follow someone in your industry.  You don't HAVE to be friends.  This is powerful for professional use.  And because of circles the content is more relevant.  I don't have to hear about the personal habits of people I follow....just the broadcast worthy posts

3. Google was playing chess while facebook was playing checkers.  It is clear with G+ that it is going to be a layer over all applications within Google.  The most important one is android.  By owning its own mobile OS it is positioned to dominate social applications on the phone.  Facebook has no such path.  Over time more social traffic will be mobile due to photos, at-work browsing, etc.   I don't see facebook gaining ground here.  It is clear Google sees mobile as the future - you can see it in the user experience.   Simple and mobile driven.

4.  The big advantage G+ has is being able to learn from facebooks mistakes.  Being new and fresh is an advantage too.  Everyone likes the new car smell...and because Google has the ability to generate viral sharing with its massive distribution it is one of the few companies that can have millions signup in less than a week.  Facebooks key competitive advantage was the network itself.  People won't switch because their friends are only on facebook.  Google puts a major dent in this advantage.  Facebook made the mistake of allowing their users to get bored.  And Google took advantage of it.  The last few facebook announcements were underwhelming and zuckerbergs greed keeps users from feeling a part of facebook. 

5. Google+ has no ads.  Atleaat not yet.  Which is really nice.

6. Google huddle is a game changer.  Facebook was slow to innovate in the collaborative communication space. Facebook chat was weak and until now with Skype ignored video chat.  But with huddle Google brings functionality for professional and social use. Plus the group texting functionality ( Ala Beluga which Facebook bought)  is icing on the cake.

There are many other aspects I would love to discuss later. I think the scariest aspect of G+ Is that It feels like Google is holding back. Almost like the Best is yet to come.  And if that is the case....facebook is in trouble.

Time for zuckerberg to learn a lesson he would have learned if he finished Harvard business school ----