Saturday, 25 May 2013

The vibe that is Google Plus

Preamble

People often ask "What is Google Plus?” – For lack of a term of reference that the layperson can refer to, I respond:
  • It’s like Facebook yet it’s different”
  • It’s Facebook for Thinking Adults
  • It’s a cross between Facebook and Twitter"
It’s really hard to explain in a few words, verbally and within the short attention span during a casual conversation what makes the vibe of Google Plus, how one would like or enjoy or behave on it more than Facebook, what makes it different from a photo gallery / photo sales channel. So, here’s my slant in this article.

Differences in context

Friends and Posts

Facebook is the social network. It has the largest number of people. It has also heavily evolved, first, alone and then in competition with Google+. The legacy infuses it with certain cultural traits.

Lots of people you know are on FB, you don’t know any or many people on Google+. Your friends, associates, colleagues, classmates, your family, mum, dad, children are there. They’re not going to migrate to another network. Some of them are cluey and internet agile, others are barely able to type a message or respond.

If you have admitted a whole bunch of people in Facebook into your main stream, except for unfriending them, your main stream gets filled with their posts. I overheard a guy on the metro train say “My colleague keeps posting photos and photos of her baby – yeah, I get it, you had a baby, you don’t have to keep showing us”.

Although Facebook has, over time, implemented posting controls, because we have a history of just posting to all our gang (but not public), we continue to do that. Post to all our gang. We don’t really think out that new Facebook friends can see our history of posts. Or we are so concerned with this issue that we do not accept new friends because they can see our history of posts before we admitted them.

So, in point form:
  • Over time, your Facebook friends encompass some selected people and some people you didn’t select but were socially obliged to add.
  • Most people post within their walls and not publicly on Facebook. But if you admit new friends to within your wall, they see all your old posts as well as your new posts. P.S. Check your Facebook Privacy Settings.

That’s not how Google+ works. Or how you want it to work

  • You may have no friends to start with at Google+ but if you engage right, you won’t be lonely for long. If you are pining for your old Facebook friends, ask yourself, why are you on Google+? Why not just stay where your friends are, on Facebook? Don’t want to stay at home on Facebook? Well, welcome to Google+ but this is a new place, there are different things to experience here.

At Google+ people often post publicly. 

  • Public posts mean that we easily discover birds-of-a-feather experiences. It could be we are into Photography. Gardening. Knitting. Bikes. Vintage Cars. Food. Hijinks.
  • Public posts mean that we think before we post. Otherwise, life gets messy. Seriously.

Even though posts are public, all people won’t see all posts

  • Unless you search for hashtags or keywords.  Or
  • Unless you create a Circle and add interesting people into one of your Circles that are not set to silent volume. Or
  • Unless you join a Community
  • Or all three.
So initially you have to do something more than sit back and watch your screen fill with content.

Adding people to one or more of your Circles

  • does not require the person’s permission like Facebook.
  • you can opt to show the world who you have circled or you can use settings to hide this.
  • is a one way relationship.

People can add you to their Circles

  • You can’t see the name of their Circles. Could be Awesome People or Frenemy or Grumpy Old Sod.
  • You can’t tell which Circle you have been added to.
  • They can see your Public posts but not your targeted, non public posts. There’s some typical jargon like Private Message from previous types of social network – on Google+ this just means that you remove Public from the target of your posts.
  • They don’t need your permission to add you to their Circles.

Notifying people when you post. Or not

  • Unless you know certain people invite and welcome notification, do not (intrusive):
    • put their name in the To: box
    • mention them with a Plus Prefix
    • put one of your Circles in the To: box and tick the Also Send Email checkbox. Depending on their settings, they might get email notification that clogs up their email or they will get a ding in their Red Notification Box (top right corner of the Google+ screen).
  • Doing the following will not ding people (non intrusive):
    • Putting Public in the To: box
    • Putting Your Circles (thus not the whole world) in the To: box
    • Putting Extended Circles in the To: box
    • Putting one of your Circles in the To: box without ticking the Also Send Email checkbox.
  • When you do want a private, previously agreed conversation:
    • There are times when you do want a private conversation or a limited audience. With one person. Or a small Circle of people. Then remove Public from the target.

Watching Silently (Lurking) vs Engaging

One question wary people ask me is “Can I just lurk without showing my hand, other people knowing what I’m doing?

Quick Answer: Yes.

You could treat Google+ content like reading a Blog, Twitter, public Facebook or a news site. But a fair part of the social networking experience is the enriching engagement and interaction that you have with other people. Remember, they're birds of a feather with you.

The Google+ experience is a lot more enriching if there is two way communication. But if you're not ready right now, sure, it’s ok to lurk.

I hope you do though. Engage, I mean.

How do you Engage / What’s Etiquette?

  • Post some original interesting content from yourself. You don't have to divulge really personal details. Please, not creepy stuff. Or heaps of NSFW stuff. Or Aggressive SEO / Marketing.
    • An anecdote
    • A story
    • Celebration of some small or big moment happening now to you
    • A poem
    • A photo
    • A photo of a work of art
  • Share other people’s work in your post. Give appropriate credit to the original author.
  • Take the time and effort to make it two way traffic.
    • That means Plus One other people’s posts
    • Respond to their posts with decent comments
    • Re-share their posts.
  • Don’t just do “Hello, How are you xxxx?” or “Please Add Me, xxxx” posts.
  • Don’t be argumentative and troll – a to/fro response/comment is best left to maybe 4 exchanges. Then walk away. After all, you've got a mature adult mind.
Want a simpler explanation? How about +Carmelyne Thompson 's mindmap / infographic?

So what can you do if you don’t like certain person or vice versa?

In escalating order, you can:
  1. Mute the one painful post from the person you Circled. Or delete the painful response to your post or delete your own post if that is the parent of the painful discussion.
  2. Remove the person from your Circle(s).
  3. Mute the person.
  4. Block the person.
  5. Report the person.
And vice versa.

What’s the difference between Google+ and Flickr / Smugmug / 500px / Zenfolio

Google+ is the general purpose social network where you meet all kinds of people, some of who are photographers. If you engage / interact with other photographers, potentially you engage on a wide variety of topics – food, gardening, flowers, humour, art, music. There may be pros or amateurs. There may be people who wield a camera, actually have heaps of talent but don’t consider themselves photographers.

Photography isn't the only thing that happens on Google+. On the other sites, photography is the main or only thing that happens. It’s likely that people will be online lots more hours on Google+ than they would on the other Photo focussed websites.

For more info relating to photography and photographers use of Google+ have a look at my previous post Tips for newbies to Google+ and newbie amateur photographers
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