Social Media Club Book Club Review: Google+ (Chris Brogan)
When I was tasked with reviewing this book, I became very excited. I feel like I make full use of LinkedIn and Facebook, and I'm making progress with Twitter, but I just haven't "gotten" Google+. So much hype was built up about Google+ with having to wait for your opportunity and invitation! Unfortunately, it hasn't lived up to the hype; at least not for me, and for only a handful of the 400+ friends and associates I have in other programs. So I was excited to begin this book, especially with the subtitle, "How Google's Social Network Changes Everything."
I think the book does a great job of selling Google+, but when I tried to put the techniques into practice, it continued to fall short. These deficiencies are not the fault of the author by any means, but I think Google is losing a golden opportunity here. Their premise makes the most sense, they already have all the tools in place (as Grogan notes, you've got Google Places, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Checkout, Google Android, Google Analytics and YouTube all integrated together). But I have found Google+ to be very non-user-friendly and not as intuitive as LinkedIn or Facebook.
Grogan does a great job of taking you step-by-step through the processes, and I tried having my book open and following along by taking the same actions in my Google+ account. Of course, it is hard to build circles when the vast majority of your connections are not on Google+. I have an active circle with family members so we can do group video hangouts. One team that I'm working on tried to do the same thing, but several of the members got frustrated and we've gone back to just phone conferences.
Grogan also makes a great case for why Google+ could indeed change everything, because it offers you opportunities for collaboration, learning, discovery, community building, contests & promotions, engagement, listening, referrals and sharing. Grogan spends a chapter sharing interviews with top individuals who share how they have been creative (and successful) with Google+. These individuals are from organizations like Ford Motor Company and Kodak. He then shares some "partially fictitious day-in-the-life-of" suggestions for people in certain careers, such as author, real estate agent, educator (my area of interest), etc. I really liked the way Grogan encouraged the reader to focus first on their individual profile, not on having a business site; people do business with people they feel they know, and therefore trust. Helping them connect to you and see you as a person instead of a business can go long distances toward building connections; although of course you must be careful how personal you get in the information shared!
Perhaps in instead of Grogan's chapter on "First Moves with Google+," I need to find the "Google+ for Dummies" instead. If it could work as Grogan presents it, Google+ could indeed be the social network that changes everything. Grogan has sold me on that; so I'll keep trying.