I remember way back to the 2003-2004 academic year. I was a freshman at BU and my boyfriend at the time was a freshman at Harvard, birthplace of Facebook. (Tangent: Did you know: the “original” Facebook was a physical Harvard directory of incoming students. I once went through the whole thing to find the email addresses of the aforementioned boyfriend’s friends to invite them to a surprise birthday party. If only Facebook as we know it today had existed then!)
That spring he and his brainiac friends showed me this “awesome new site,” thefacebook.com. For the life of me, I could not wrap my head around the concept or figure out why I would want to virtually poke someone. When thefacebook.com expanded to BU, one of my Harvard girlfriends who was by now totally drinking the Facebook kool-aid, signed me up for an account. I didn’t get it but darn it, I had an account.
I finally jumped on the bandwagon and when Facebook made it down to Texas, tried to bring my old high school friends on board too. They didn’t get it. They thought it was creepy and stalker-ish.
Fast forward to 2011. Google+ (G+ for those in the know) is like the Facebook confusion of ole but on steroids.
First, instead of starting with a fairly small, insulated beta-group like Facebook did with Harvard students, G+ is wide open. Users run the gamut in terms of geography, social media savvy-ness and anything else you can think of. Really, all they have in common is being G+ early adopters.
Along the same lines, there’s not a slow, somewhat deliberate growth the way Facebook gradually expanded to colleges across the country. In fact, it’s the opposite. Most of us already have a relationship with Google, be it as casual as our search engine or as intimate as our personal email/calendar provider. So instead of a trickle, like Facebook’s start-up, G+ hit us like Niagara Falls.
Finally with the prevalence of social media we all have the audacity to think we’re pros. Some of us actually use it professionally and are deemed “experts.” Others use its intuitive interface to stay connected to our family/friends on a weekly or daily basis. Either way, we think we “get” social media.
But G+ threw us a monkey wrench. It kinda looks like Facebook so our guts said “G+ is the new Facebook.” But then there’s a Twitter element of following (“circling?”) people you don’t actually know because the default doesn’t require your opt-in for someone to add you to their circle.
It’s like if Facebook, Twitter and Google all got together and had a baby.
Even though I’m the social media “expert” here at Convio, I don’t think I totally get G+ yet. I’m not sure what its best use is, how I can engage with people (friends, clients, anyone really) or what value Convio or I find in it.
That’s why, folks, we have to band together.
Like a bunch of social media cartographers we have to draft the first G+ map. The same way we drafted the Facebook map and the Twitter map.
But don’t worry. It’s just a draft. We can change it later.
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