Tag Archives: social networks

Why you should pay attention to Google+

Over on LinkedIn, Des Walsh asks about the value of Google+ for small businesses. A few people there note LinkedIn’s great business value. I find I’m using it less and less. LinkedIn has turned into a networking free-for-all with people connecting to anyone at all. I keep only people I know, for real, in person, in my network. It also helps me be sure that if someone I value asks for an introduction, I actually know both sides and can make a true introduction, not just a pass-along.
Then there’s Facebook. People question the value of a ‘friend network’ for business. But, Who better to recommend you business than real friends – which is where Facebook excels. I saw this post from Anthony Kirlew today on “How Small Business Owners Miss the Mark with Facebook” and it resonates for me in the direction of Google+. Both of these networks need to bring in the concept of closeness, reputation and trust before they’re going to truly see their value.

So, what is Google+, and why should you pay attention? It is  a social network, with circles of your contacts at the center. You can make a circle of work folks and “huddle” with them in a shared mobile text messaging type environment. You can “hang out” with your friends via a video and audio chat room. You can see news you care about via sparks (which needs a lot of work to get to the value of Google Reader). And there’s photo sharing, integrated from Picasssa. So, a lot of the same stuff as Facebook and Twitter.
Google+ can take a giant leap ahead if they take the circles concept and add some trust and reputation characteristics. For those not yet using Google+, the concept of circles is simple – you put people into circles like “Friends” and “Family” and you can filter what you see based on the circles. You can also filter what you share, so your friends see the fun night out pictures, while your family is unaware of them.
Of course, Facebook and Twitter already have Friend lists and Lists, respectively, but neither is very good. Twitter gives no tools to help manage the contacts you already have to put them into lists, and Facebook has tried to hide the lists I spent time making to make their interface “cleaner.” What they’ve done is make it harder for me to keep up with specific groups of people. I’m hoping Google+’s circles will force Facebook’s friend lists back to the front page where they can be effectively used.
Google may be “late to the party” with G+ but they are clearly working to learn from LinkedIn and Facebook and innovate on their own mistakes with Buzz.
Finally, there’s the “take over the world” strategy for Google+. I thought a lot about this when
I wrote about Google Wave in Mashable last year, but Mashable never published a chart I created. The chart was about Wave, so I’ll re-do it below.

Function In Google+ Now? Google Related Property
Picture Upload and editing Upload Picassa
Advanced Editing Limited Google Docs, Blogger
Collaborative Editing No Google Docs, Google Shared Spaces
Voice Chat Hangout Google Voice, Gtalk
Scheduling Collaboration No Google Calendar
Contacts Yes Related to your Google Address Book
Friend/Colleague Discovery Currently Difficult but they are working on it Gtalk, Gmail Contacts
NewsFeed Discovery Difficult to search, but easier to filter via circles Google search, new Google Social Search,
Video Sharing Embeds via YouTube YouTube
Content Sharing No, but just needs a simple bookmarklet or browser extension Predict this will happen very shortly, plus APIs to integrate with ShareThis/AddThis will happen quickly too
Mobile Access Android App, Apple App coming, HTML 5 interface available now Google Mobile Ads
MobileCheckins/Deals Checkins Show in Google+ Now, and the Android client shows “Nearby” activity already Google Local, Google mobile ads, Google social ads, Google Offers

The fact that they can bring in Google Offers (local deals) that connect to Google Places (location, check in and verified business listings), search and advertising (including mobile ads) and a “Nearby” function is in their network from the start, and you have a very powerful potential.

We’re telling them who we’re closest to, and according to some folks using Google+, they’re calculating interactions to see our actual nearness and interactions with each other. If they can figure out a way to keep user’s trust (which they lost with Buzz) better than Facebook (up there with used car salesman in the trust category) and let us discover and work with reputational information about each other (something LinkedIn could have done long ago), again, I see a lot of power.

I hope Google can realize the potential.

Bonus reading:

The Google Plus 50 by Chris Brogan

This is Just the Beginning by Paul Adams

Google’s Six Front War

Sex Problems at Google Plus (he means gender problems but sex sells, right?)

 

The ROI of Having Employees on Social Networks

At the App Gap blog, Matthew Hodgson notes that “effective teams have both strong task-based behavior as well as good social cohesion.” This means they both work well and play well together, and individual performers also value the performance of the team.
When I think about some of the good corporate experiences I’ve had working with very focused, productive, sharing teams, this certainly rings true. However, he notes, many companies are struggling with the idea that employee social interaction has a business benefit. In many places, this relates not only to the team going out for beers on a Friday after work, but also the team’s ability to network with others, via social networks and services.

The ROI of being social at work | The AppGap

MIT research shows that 40% of creative teams productivity is directly explained by the amount of communication they have with others to discover, gather, and internalise information. In other MIT studies, research shows that employees with the most extensive digital networks are 7% more productive than their colleagues. Furthermore, those with the most cohesive face-to-face networks are 30% more productive.

This reinforces similar research…that highlights the importance of these networks because they “strongly influence information diffusion … and access to novel information”. Availability of these networks, their research shows, is a highly significant predictor of worker productivity.

Note the above quote – people with the most cohesive face-to-face networks are 30%! more productive.

Now, I’ve been writing about the way to leverage your live connections to find more virtual connections, to gain new, important live connections for at least a year now. We know that people who are agile in-person networkers, and who can use their online connections to have more in-person meetings can gain success. Now, we see there’s research backing that concept, and productivity gains that show a real ROI for that online networking.

When I spoke at a meeting of 15 Chief Communications Officers last year, most of them told me they blocked Facebook, Blogs, and many other social tools at the firewall. I questioned whether they were really blocking these tools – or if they were just forcing their employees to access them less efficiently – via their iPhones, Blackberries, and other devices. Less efficiently because the mobile connection would be slower, and the typing would be slower – meaning employees would spend more time to do their social interactions. The evidence above suggests that companies could gain productivity from some employees by letting this social interaction happen on their regular computers. 

I’m not saying “don’t monitor how this impacts your company” and “let people play on Facebook all day.” But it may be time to trust employees to be adults, let them access more sites on “work time,” weed out those who abuse the privilege and see if new, positive connections arise that help your company. Think of it as a test. Will your organization pass?