You may have seen GooglePlus has had a changing of the guard recently. It’s a significant enough change for tech journalists, bloggers and some pro-Facebook community managers to take as a sign of demise. I’m not going to add to the speculation on either side of the fence because it appears like a whole lot of conjecture and not enough fact.
I will however walk into the territory I do know quite confidently and explain what the GooglePlus haters don’t get, and why I think GooglePlus is a valuable and vital community.
Quantity doesn’t equate to quality
There seems to be a trend amongst some social media and community managers to equate success in a platform to raw numbers. More specifically, it’s the comparison of the 1.2billion active monthly users of Facebook users and 540 million active GooglePlus members.
Yes, I admit that does look a little like a Giant inviting a flea to dinner.
But it’s also saying quantity is the most important deciding factor for people on social media. It isn’t- quality is.
If it was only the biggest number that counted, here is what life would look like:
- There would be only cafe in town, and it would be McCafe
- There would only be Katy Perry on the radio
- There would only be Kyle Sandilands presenting Katy Perry on the radio while eating McDonalds
Sorry guys but that is my idea of personal hell.
And that’s probably the same way most GooglePlus users feel about being minimised in the shadow of Facebook.
But can we all put down the “Mark Zuckerberg 4 EVA” signs and please look at this logically:
540 million active monthly users for any product is to be celebrated, not sneezed at. And Facebook, while having the lion share of users, is also posting negative growth in key markets like young adult and positive growth in the over 65s.
So shouldn’t the case be for matching your audience with the platform as opposed to caring so much about large numbers?
The Catch 22 of not being somewhere
Oh the old “but my customers don’t use GooglePlus” line is really worth a high five to the face with a frozen swordfish.
If you aren’t there, how on earth do you know they aren’t there?
Your customers are not staying on Facebook, patiently waiting for you to make the journey to GooglePlus. They don’t walk around like Sims with a preferred social media bubble above their heads on the community manager map of life.
They are on GooglePlus talking about and to someone else.
Or they could be there, and you could be their first best friend by helping them use it as opposed to another desperate face in a sea of competing Facebook fan pages.
By waiting for everyone else to turn up before you make a move, you’re missing the opportunity to cut through the thousands of other impressions they get from Facebook each day and have an actual conversation.
Early Adopter versus Laggard
Part of me wonders if GooglePlus haters are simply laggards who don’t want to learn a new platform.
I am going to walk out on a limb here with a bunch of anecdotal statements of my own usage of Facebook versus GooglePlus in the last 6 months. It’s my blog so what the heck…
Here’s why you want the people on GooglePlus more than on Facebook.
- Facebook visibility sucks without payment. Facebook pages have gotten increasingly hard for customers to see unless it’s paid. GooglePlus doesn’t have this issue.
- Facebook interaction doesn’t mean business. On Facebook fan pages, everybody is up for the memes, the jokes and the stuff that doesn’t sell. GooglePlus has people who are interested in buying and clicking on the stuff that matters. This makes the effort you put into your social media more worthwhile.
- Facebook users STILL belly ache about tags. GooglePlus users use them to search for what they need and support their SEO. This means better exposure for you on a post by post basis to new leads as opposed to barely reaching the ones you already have.
- The likes have less meaning on Facebook. Facebook users have liked stuff like crazy since they arrived because it was novel. On GooglePlus, the choice for identifying with a brand or community group is far more considered as we’ve got it out of our system. So we’re choosing stuff we do actually give a crap about on GooglePlus.
- There are more trolls, cynics, narcissists and sarcastic bastards per pixel on Facebook than any other social media in town. So well crafted of social media is lost to hardened ears.
- Grandma is on Facebook. We don’t want to get drunk, buy skimpy knickers or argue politics in front of Grandma. Neither do your customers.
It seems to me that Facebook now has the laggards in residence. I don’t know about you but I can’t afford to spend time and money on talking to people who are change resistant and not interested in buying new things.
That’s why GooglePlus benefits freelancers, startups, anyone in technology, anyone in small business, community movements and creative ideas. It’s far easier doing business in an environment where people have come for a specific reason and with an open attitude to new ideas than deal with window shoppers who are totally up for trashing the joint.
“I don’t like it. It’s hard to use. A gremlin ate my shoe”
New things are hard and not everyone likes using GooglePlus. It isn’t really surprising after 10 years of Facebook and seeing how people responded to refreshes as though they were Armageddon.
There’s a learning curve, we get it.
The worrying thing for me is when “I don’t like it” and “It’s too hard” is coming from dyed in the wool social media and community managers. The very nature of the beast is these jobs didn’t even exist without changes to the technological landscape, and yet they are frightened of trying a new thing.
What the heck is that?!
I’ve worked in community management since 1998 via the first community experience, dating. And I was playing with the forums, BBS’ and IRC chat channels since 1995. These sorts of platforms and tech forms were the precursors to the community, the instant messages, groups, forums and platforms we use now.
If I dug my heels in and stuck with the first usable and fun version of community I could ace, I’d still be looking at Linux looking to join a Canadian server so I could stare at grey text on a black screen for several hours to chat IRC. Fortunately, I’m smart enough (or curious enough, never quite sure which) to know when it’s time to try something else.
Here’s me uninviting myself from a bunch of future community manager Christmas parties:
You can’t work in the online space and call yourself a community manager unless you are willing to try new online community formats.
The members of your community are ALREADY trying it. In fact, a lot of us got our jobs in community management or social media by being brave enough to be the guys and gals on the front of the wave.
If you don’t want to move from Facebook, there will be some painfully annoying social media nerd more than willing to take your job from you. They won’t mean to, but they will outshine you as your clients look for new things to try other than paying more for their current ads. They represent new territories to explore, new campaigns to try and new ways to reach new customers.
You just represent “ain’t (all the way) broke, don’ fix it” – and possibly a fantastic demonstration of what happens if someone stays in their comfort zone a little too long.
Don’t be the person who shakes their head and says “I’ve tried nothing, but I’m all out of ideas” when all you really need to do to get a handle on GooglePlus is join, find a topic you like that has a community and play for a little while until you get the hang of it.
Here are some GooglePlus communities you can even try to see for yourself:
If you search on any interest from community management to community gardening, you’ll find something.
The bottom line on GooglePlus haters
What the GooglePlus haters really don’t get is the potential, the opportunity and the chance to explore something – and see whether it works to their advantage.
We are talking about the biggest search engine in the English speaking world offering users the opportunity to ramp up their SEO without too much pain, to meet paying customers, to create safe havens from being surrounded by everybody and their cat memes while using a free service that isn’t choked with advertising.
Why is that so objectionable?
And I can’t work out why any tech journalist, community manager or so called social media expert would be so resistant. Or in favour of waving the flag for the plain, mall-like edifice that is Facebook.
Give me boutique, customised and a little bit special any day.
How about you?
If you want to continue the conversation this is my personal Bek Lambert profile on GooglePlus and my GooglePlus business page for Unashamedly Creative. Feel free to pop by and introduce yourself.