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Fixing the Google+ Engagement Problem

Let's be honest: Google+ does have a problem engaging new users. Facebook already has the network for engaging existing friends; Google+ has to forge a different path: building a better network to share interests with those who share our interests.

These 39 slides are some thoughts on how to do just that. I don't work for Google, but over the last several months, Google+ has become an important community to me. I now care about its future, and so while I'm not presumptuous enough to think I have all the answers, I wanted to highlight the core problem, as I see it, and throw out a few rough ideas for addressing it.

These slides builds on earlier slides I created a few months ago:
What is Google+ (really)?:
https://plus.google.com/105103058358743760661/posts/fxp3viNzg9d

They also builds on the ideas of others who are also thinking about many of these issues. At the risk of leaving some important people out, here are at least a few of these good folks:

+Alexander Becker, +Yifat Cohen, +Jacob Dix, +Rod Dunne, +Brian Gundersen, +Siegfried Hirsch, +Max Huijgen, +Jeff Jockisch, +Guy Kawasaki, +Denis Labelle, +Chris Lang, +Thomas Morffew, +Thomas Power, +Vinoth Ragunathan, +Susanne Ramharter, +Miguel Rodriguez, +Jeff Sayre, +Alex Schleber, +Brian Titus, +Mark Traphagen, +Gabriel Vasile, +Colin Walker and +Sophie Wrobel. (Again - apologies to anyone I may have inadvertently missed...)

As with my first slide deck, I've tried to make this tour as easy as possible with some nice images, the credits for which are on the last slide.

Also, if you want to see these as actual slides on Slideshare, I've posted them on my blog at Alchemy of Change: http://www.alchemyofchange.net/googleplus_engagement/
#sharedinterestgraph  
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176 comments
 
Thanks for bringing this to my attention +Gideon Rosenblatt. It's something I've pointed out previously, in mockups and elsewhere. I shared it over on my page +Google+ Mockups for the sake of furthering the discussion of this aspect of G+.
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt thoughtful post as always. Google does need ice-breaking technology as you suggest. Not everyone here is adept at breaking the ice on their own. Let's see where this goes.
 
Great slides again +Gideon Rosenblatt. We constantly hear how the interest graph is going to be the next big thing but each of the networks is just playing around the edges. With a concerted effort to bring in the right tools the first network to implement them will win big.

Oh, and thanks for the mention ;)
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt G+ has all the smart people now. the not so smart will when they see the convergence of all the good stuff google has now and all google will have in the future.
 
Happy ripples, +Gideon Rosenblatt , I think we'll see a lot of them around this post :-) Very good "right to the point" presentation.
 
Great post and slides +Gideon Rosenblatt . A few months ago +Brian Gundersen and +Miguel Rodriguez asked for ideas about improvements for Google+. At that time, some of us were thinking on similar lines, I wished for a way to define interests or categories for both posts and people. Your mock-ups have show just exactly what I was thinking of! (great minds and all that :D )
 
I think those are some good points, +Gideon Rosenblatt . One of the principle difficulties I am trying to work around in G+ is the fact that I can't just split people into categories -- I have a "tech" circle, but who makes posts on just one category? I feel sympathy for my followers because I post on technology, social networking, psychology, education, news, and anything else that catches my interest -- the only solution I have found so far is to create a separate online identity that focuses on a certain topic. Is this really what Google has in mind?
 
+MICHAEL STEWART , I used to think that, too. Then I started following some of the "What's Hot" posts and my estimation of G+ User Intelligence declined dramatically.
 
what would help is if Google didn't get all in a tizz over names. i have a name i use in all things computery and have done since my arcade days (i got this name given to me whilst i playing the wire frame StarWars). now i use this name all over the web and have provided G with the URL's but still google have thrown their toys out of the pram. now this name is not offensive to anybody and i view this name as a layer of security, a layer of security that google want to take away and not once have i communicated with a human from google, the best i got was a line of code telling me how sorry it was.. it would be nice if a human from Google could look into this and respond, thanks.
keep doing the good work
 
G+ has lots of other problems to fix before we worry about engagement. The UI remains inconsistent. Tools and extensions that make engagement easier and more logical are unreliable as updates are constantly breaking them. The UI is inconsistent across browsers, making tutorials a nice effort but never a solution. Formatting share descriptions has suffered a regression. There is still no way whatsoever to edit the description and titles of YouTube videos which can contain characters that you wish to translate before posting, incorrect spelling which can have people second guessing if you are a moron for posting and sometimes the video you wish to share may have inappropriate language or commentary that contrasts with the subject matter of your post.

Trying to engage people to use a broken product is spinning your tires in the mud.
 
Thanks +Gideon Rosenblatt for another superb analysis and overview of where G+ is and where it’s going, or at least should be going! I like most of your suggestions for exploring shared interests and I agree this is the kernel of G+. I think improvements to Circle notifications should be the first and easiest step e.g. why aren’t we notified when somebody from my existing gmail contacts has joined G+? I also cannot understand why the search within G+ is so poor, this is surely the first step to finding people with similar interests?
One quibble: I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on the ComScore data (average 3 minutes monthly) as this was misleading research e.g. it didn’t include mobile usage.
Finally, I am personally finding far too many interesting people to follow here on G+ and there are not enough hours in the day to talk to them all :-)
 
just found someone on here called Friggin laser!!! you do know what "Friggin" means???
 
That's one of the problems with so many great conversations here, +Susanne Ramharter - so much smart input that's it's hard to remember exactly where ideas originate from, how they build, etc. But I definitely want to acknowledge the ideas from that collaboration, and so added you and +Miguel Rodriguez in the acknowledgements in the post.
 
well done for this post.............have had to circle you for this
 
Awesome presentation! Is this on SlideShare or Google Docs? Thanks!
 
Although I can sense what you meant, I'm not sure Google+ needs more complicating. Rather simplifying? I mean - with new interface (which I love), G+ looks good, but perhaps more complicated. And for "outside" world, even scarry new.

If a new user would come and see things in "newspaper" style, there would be a bigger chance of engaging. After a user makes a few clicks and posts a comment, other buttons should emerge.

Anyway, I don't mind less cumulative engagement as long as I am satisfied.

I'm preparing something in this manner, will get back to this when I have it done. :)
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt This was terrific.
2 points: I am finding that my Saved Searches Streams are sometimes richer than my circles - because everyone doesn't exclusively post or share in the circle category that I have them in - but a Saved Search Stream will always deliver that shared interest content - assuming everyone plays by the rules and uses hashtags.

The second issue is finding those shared interest people using their profiles. I don't understand why the hover card changed to where folks work and went to school - this tells us nothing about their interests. It needs to go back to the tagline - or something even more rich - so we can make those instantaneous decisions about whether to circle of not. Again, thanks for the effort in the post - looks great...
Rod Dunne
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You wrote These 39 slides are some thoughts on how to do just that. I don't work for Google, but over the...

I've news for you... You DO work for Google. We're more like beta-testers for the system and content contributors. We're just not being paid for it. Consider how many hours a day go into G+, then consider if 'your boss' asked you to work that much overtime FOR FREE then would it feel any more/less like work?...

Your slides are fantastic and really well thought out. You've obviously put a lot into it. But is anyone in Google listening?
 
+1 and in for notifications. Thanks for the mention +Gideon Rosenblatt, looking forward to reading through the slides and comments.
 
Excellent post - you nailed it! I would love to have subscribe circles or groups and interact with like minded people!
 
Google Plus doesn't have an engagement problem. People have a problem getting others to engage and knowing how to effectively communicate. This is not Google's problem.

True story.
 
Yes, excellent post. And I hope Google has plans lines up to develop exactly towards that goal.
 
your research is really good and i think you should had worked with +Google+ team
 
Thank you for this good work. This comment I do for slide 39.
Its great to see that you put the Creative Commons licensing for every picture on the last slide 39, thats a great example of clean work!
 
New Google+ user interface is the biggest turn off for me. Original concept was a lot cleaner IMHO
 
+Denis Labelle iconoclastic last comment but I cannot help feeling it may also be true. Too much tunnel vision is not good.
 
Great ideas, good clear analysis of the problem, thanks Gideon.
My big wish to enhance engagement is for a circle of all those following me, whom I am not following. This to be outside the 5000 limit.
People are expressing an interest in me, they have expressed a wish for engagement, I can't respond.
 
+Dan Soto Very true there are too many people who broadcast and do not listen or engage at all. That is certainly not Google’s problem!
+Rod Dunne I know there are a few Google bugs at the moment but in fairness, they do listen. There have been umpteen improvements to G+ over the last year based on user feedback. It must be hard to find some degree of consensus among the feedback e.g. “the words vs. pictures” debate….
 
+Rod Dunne +Eileen O'Duffy makes a good point. Take Facebook for instance. They do not even know that there is a word pronounced 'listen' in the OED, let alone what it means and on the subject of 'response' ... hmmm, let's not even go there. Google is far, far from perfect but you do get both.
 
Brilliant! Great ideas, I hope Google will get on with them. One that I think would be especially easy to implement is a better interface to look through people who have circled you so you can circle them back. The hovercards contain too little information, the About-page and a couple of recent posts should open up automatically as in your mock-up. A similar interface would be useful when looking at a shared circle.
 
Spot on, Gideon, and brilliant as well. I've been shouting this message since G+ introduced the odious and counter-productive "What's Hot." I hope the clueless at Google read your post and start waking up... :)
 
I think one of the problems is that people are too addicted to facebook to try another social network. Also there are the stupid ones that say that G+ sucks because there is not too many people here as if facebook had started with millions of members from the begging.
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt Excellent presentation. What strikes me is this: your prescription for G+ is a spot-on description of Chime.in. You're essentially wanting the features of http://chime.in to be incorporated into G+. Not a bad idea at all, BTW. It was much easier to connect with new people based on shared interests there than it was here initially.
 
For the first time ever I saw a Facebook style conversation going on on Google+ yesterday. I made the mistake of commenting on a post about someone buying shoes. Shortly thereafter there were about 40 comments such as...."love those" and "soooo hawt."

I learned my lesson. I have many great, engaging people in my circles and 99% of them do not respond with one or two word answer with misspelled words.

I digress....carry on...
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt I'll mention here what I mentioned under one of your slides. G+ needs to trend individual profiles, in addition to the total stream, in order to encourage effective circling. It would in effect be like giving people a trending word cloud somewhere on their profiles, right under their profile image, perhaps. It wouldn't be a difficult step. And would be a big one.
 
+Eileen O'Duffy +David Amerland +Jacob Dix Don't mind me. I'm probably the wrong person to go making judgments on Google+ at the moment. I didn't mean to take away anything from Gideons excellent work. Apologies
 
+Jacob Dix +Gideon Rosenblatt
I can envisage something similar to the way that I also envisage the #discover tab growing on Twitter (and to some degree already has) where topics are present based on relevance as well as trending along with a list of people currently talking about them/interested in them. This would require that we have interests flagged on our profile.

With Twitter I have suggested that #discover could even go so far as becoming the default view rather than the feed as it becomes a focal point to start a discussion rather than just jumping in to an arbitrary point in a rolling stream of updates.

I like the idea of something like a word cloud but I don't think it would be front and centre, just having a core list of interests as Gideon suggests would probably be easier for quick reference on hover cards and in the initial profile view.
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt As more people discover Google+, it becomes more important to be able to filter the noise. If Google+ listens to your excellent suggestions, they will have taken a big step towards giving people a more compelling reason to spend more than the mythical 3 minutes per month on the platform.

If I had to chose one of your points, it would be giving us more "interests" information when someone circles you.
Deciding whether to circle back is a time suck unless they've provided the basics information on their profile (not to mentions a photo).
Having a checklist of interest on your profile page that then would display on your summary card would go along way towards facilitating connection and engagements.
Thanks, Gideon. Great slides!
 
Spot on analysis +Gideon Rosenblatt . The only thing I would disagree with is that I don't buy the 3 minutes vs. 7 hour analysis for many reasons. I think perpetuating that myth doesn't help. What you correctly point out is that new users need help. Apart from the suggestions you make, all of which I agree would go a long way, the core problem for new users I think is their expectations. If you come here expecting fb, you will be disappointed. And that is where Google needs to focus its advertising of G+. It needs to get the word out in a big way that G+ is not fb and has evolved (whether by accident or design) into something completely different. Once that is in people's minds, the inane articles about G+ 's failure will not make sense. People who are drawn to sign up, won't just sign up and leave, they might stay to see what this "new" concept is all about.
 
+Rod Dunne No worries and no need to apologise. You didn’t take away anything from Gideon’s presentation. You had an opinion to offer and this is good and always welcome. And you are not alone with your opinion either!
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt shows great points in the topic "Engagement on Google+"
But
+Google+ is not the "swiss army knife" for all social media use cases. Google+ is the "shoutbox" and the communication overhead of the Google environment and most people using not the environment, they want to do all things with Google+... to get real sustainable engagement you need far more than a Google+ Profile.
 
Another nice one +Gideon Rosenblatt! Good and concise digest of the most important points re: broadcasting, the onboarding problem, and the difference between social and interest graphs. Ideal to reach a larger audience than our tl;dr groundwork.
 
+Colin Walker I agree that a brief list of three trending topics for an individual on their hovercard would be great. It would be a start. I would want a section somewhere on my profile indicating trends in my posts, if people wanted to view my profile further. This would also have the advantage of making one's profile slightly more like a blog, where wordclouds are often used to show what a blog stands for.
 
I have never enjoyed using Facebook, however I see why others do. An important part of G+ is that it doesn't need to replace Facebook. You can use both! More tools to solve my problems is a good thing.
 
While the "3 minutes v 7 hours" argument is up for debate and the figures, by comScore's own admission, didn't include mobile usage, I would imagine that the real use figure is probably still quite worrying.

When the report was released back in Feb I posted that while "Engaged users are spending a lot of time on Plus" the average time was being pulled down by a lot of inactive accounts but again it all depends on your definition of an active accounts which I have also written a lot about.

Do we include those people who never visit the Plus page but will hit a +1 button on the web or use social results in SPYW?

If not then there are probably a lot of people who create an "upgraded account" via Gmail or when buying an Android phone with G+ preinstalled but never intend to use the service.

The problem is not just getting users more enagaged but encouraging the non-users to become users or, alternatively, to change the definition of engaged to encompass more than just visiting the Plus page and submitting posts or commenting.
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt thanks for adding value. I like your improvement suggestions regarding groups and search.

IMO: The 3 min vs 7 hours is not an issue. I look at it from an exponential growth curve and life cycle point of view:

In a such a life cycle you cannot really compare time spent between Google today and Facebook today.

Google+ is only in the initial phases of introductory to explosive growth period.

Facebook is growing, and I have not really any stats to show, but it's maturing.

Will FB grow more? Yes. It has not reached its highest peak yet.

If the comparison was Google+ engagement-time vs Facebook engagement-time at the same time in the startup phase then I would have been worried.

This does not mean we should just let it be. Google+ can improve. But I believe it's growing even now with all these issues.
 
+Jacob Dix Agreed, and my continued calls to fully integrate Blogger with Plus would go even further to help this.
 
Also, just a note, they are putting just average people on the Suggested user list, I happen to be one of those people.
I'm not a celebrity by any means, just a simple chef from Pittsburgh, and associated with the right people.
I actively engage on my posts, and answer any questions people may have.
They are working towards bettering this platform and posts like this help tremendously.
 
+Jake Croston I can confirm. I was also added. To the South African SUL. And I am no SA celeb.
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt these slides are very well done, and I totally agree that there is an engagement problem. I have seen lots of people with followercounts between 200 and 1000 stop posting over the last 3-4 months, because they got no engagement on their posts, their posts were simply lost in the stream.

Not because it was uninteresting posts, only because nobody saw them, people simply have their streams overloaded. The average half-life of a post must be around 15 minutes (my perception).

Now I cannot imagine that Google is not aware of this, and I think we'd all like to hear more from them, but alas, they don't give any feedback on future features. They could choose a panel of powerusers (or even let the community nominate them), make them sign an NDA and work this out together with the community.
 
+Claude Rieth - you're hitting on the core issue here. I see plenty of people with just a few hundred followers, who post really great stuff, and when you take the time to look at their profile, you see that they are really interesting people. But they just can't break through the barrier to getting meaningful engagement here.

A few months back, there was a wave of interest from some people with bigger followings here, to try to address at least some of these issues on our own. Circle shares like this one were part of my effort:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/105103058358743760661/posts/HWjeWpQst6b

But in the end, this is going to come down to how seriously Google takes this issue. It may well be that Google is working to address these issues, as we speak. I certainly hope so.
 
+Claude Rieth +Gideon Rosenblatt its impossible that every post gets interaction and engagement. For engagement you need people with time to spend on your post and that does not work because every post with interaction/comments consumed "User time".

"User time" that is not available for all posters...

EXAMPLE: This post from +Gideon Rosenblatt consumed 25 minutes of my time directly on this original comment stream and 45 minutes on my shared post... in that time I cannot interact with other Users...
 
You have identified the key difference between Facebook and Google+ and the challenge it presents to Google+. Would you mind if I link to this on my blog?
 
Great post. As I am working on a circle with a shared interest and we are putting together a page and a site and trying to get the news out, it would be nice if Google was a bit more intuitive and/or seamless. We are hoping and have been patiently waiting for Hangouts on Air because even with a small group (20-30) that is too many for our current hangouts and limits us a bit. (I know its rolling out).
That is not to say Google+ is not great, because I think it is. I use it on a constant basis and I am rarely over at Facebook. I know my friends, we interact the old-fashioned way (telephone and in person). Facebook is great for friends far away. Google+ is great for shared interests and for sharing interests with those all over. Keep working at it Google+ - here are some great tips!
 
Thanks to +Gideon Rosenblatt for this, and to +Jacob Dix for bringing it to my attention. From where I see it, there should be two ways to use G+:

- Interacting with known people (AKA Facebook mode). G+ already does that well by letting you circle people you know, and letting them circle back.
- Interacting with strangers about shared interests (AKA topic mode). The thing is (and here's where I disagree with Gideon's slides) you should NOT have to circle those people to interact with them about those topics. After all it's the TOPIC you're mainly interested about, not the person.

Enhance saved searches. Shine the spotlight on them, make them Explore's main feature. Turn Explore into a place all about your particular interests, that lets you talk about them instantly even with people you don't know. Then, if you get to appreciate those people, you can always circle them if you want.

Turn pages into public squares where not only a company talks to its followers, but THEY can talk to each other about it too. Turn them into a community. Then they can circle each other, if they want.

Let me save posts for later. If I read an interesting post while I'm on the move I probably won't reply to it even if I have something interesting to see. I wouldn't be writing this if I weren't on a desktop computer, and maybe when I got to one I would have completely forgotten it, or lost interest.

When someone reshares one of my posts and doesn't add an introduction, let my +1s and comments move over to the reshared post. Let all these people who're reading what I wrote also be able to interact with those who already had something to say about it, instead of splitting that one big conversation into multiple tiny, isolated ones.

Decrease noise. When many people reshare the same post show it to me ONCE, that way I'll spend less time scrolling over posts that no longer interest me and I'll be more likely to notice other posts, maybe have a say on them.

I don't know, there are just lots of ways to improve engagement that don't require encouraging users to circle strangers. That's valid too, obviously. But it's just one option among many.
 
+AlphaValues Robert You can create an empty circle and share posts to it. That essentially becomes a private bookmark list.
 
I do think that +Dan Soto speaks some truth re: the people problem: "People have a problem getting others to engage and knowing how to effectively communicate." Some people will never overcome their communication problems, they are indeed a lost cause for Google+

But I think much of the population can and will, with the right tools, right incentives, right 'ice breakers'.
 
Two things; +Dan Soto is correct about the user community. There are those of use who engage despite the difficulties of G+, and there are those who cannot seem to overcome them. The fact that most of those people tend to be tech-journalists or celebs is no excuse.

I get the distinct impression at times that Google really has no plan, and that what G+ becomes will really be driven by our feedback and attitudes towards their solution. In the end, I try to remember that we are not the customer, but the product, and it may very well be that Google has already achieved their own goals, rather than ours?
 
+J.C. Kendall Exactly. As I have written before, Google uses Plus to as a means to an end. It is here to connect aspects of our lives that could not be previously done so that Google knows "people" as well as the web. By doing so it can better target us with advertising, establish patterns of behaviour, identify trends etc.

We are the raw data for the Google machine. The fact that we get somewhere cool to hang out is a bonus.
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt I love almost everything you've said and shown in your slides, except for one point: I would not want searches integrated into circles or even remotely connected to finding people on G+. There are four people living in my house. I'm the only one on G+. Three males, ranging in age from 13 to 50 ... and me. Most of the time when they are using my desktop, I am signed out of G+, but would the cache be integrated into people searching for me on G+? My eldest son rarely uses my desktop, but when he does, he is using it for college work. He's a physics major! When he starts talking string theory and the Hadron particle, my eyes glaze over. So, please no search integration! (lol)

As +David Prieto said, I'd love to see a way to save posts. When I'm on my desktop, I clip to Evernote, but I don't even know if that's possible on mobile devices. I would like to see Evernote integrated into G+. It would fit so nicely into the white space. :)

Photographers new to G+ now have a way to find like-minded people: +New Photographers and +Fresh Pics. The problem is those pages aren't getting a lot of publicity. +Trevor Farrell, who started the pages, has tried diligently to get the word out. Maybe this will help.
 
This was a very interesting look at how Google+ can improve the value of the social network to the people on it and to Google itself. I think you're right that G+ needs to facilitate connections around shared interests.

One good place to understand people's interests are through their circles. For instance, I have circles for cycling, car racing, politics and technology. There are many things that I only share with those circles, so I don't clog up people's feed with things they don't care about. But it makes it impossible for others who might have those same interests to know that I'm sharing stuff they might be interested in.

To solve this problem, we need a way to make some circles public and discoverable and enable people to put themselves into a circle. This could then have the added benefit of only showing the items that were shared with that circle, instead of that circle and anything that's public or shared with circles or extended circles. This could really help raise the signal to noise ratio of our feeds on Google+.
 
I don't really think there is a good solution to this. What new users need is (1) to understand the dynamics of the G+ community (as a place to meet new people on an intellectual level, not people you already know), and (2) then find people who match what they want to engage on. Second Life had an 'orientation zone' with a pile of community mentors to help newcomers get started; G+ could very well benefit from a similar initiative.
 
The only reason why I haven't left facebook it's because my family is there... and that's all they know how to use... that and e-mail. Not too many tech people in my family. I don't expect or would even considering asking them to use google +. And I don't want to... I am so tired of having 300 "funny" images in my facebook feed every day. And I can't ignore them, because my family sends them. I like google specifically because I can connect with professionals in my area, or of things I have interesting in. It's wonderful to see them share their knowledge and help other in the community. Facebook does not provide me with such information. So for me.. Facebook = friends and family. Google = business, and not so casual.

thanks Google+ for this amazing platform.
 
Both Facebook and G+ is lacking integration with the rest of the internet due to being hidden away behind a login prompt. I find it strange to make these semi-public walled of areas of the internet, when some of the content could be made completely public.
New users can't tell what these services are about without signing up. This was originally my biggest gripe with Facebook. With G+ it was less of an issue for me because I had a gmail account anyway.

These social media seems split between wanting to make a private club and a public service at the same time.
 
To +David Prieto and +Pam Chalkley
You can do this with both your own posts and others posts using +CircleCount 's extension. But accessability to old posts will likely be a default feature when google calendar gets integrated. Looking through old posts will be like looking through old search criteria.
 
Great post +Gideon Rosenblatt on a complex issue put across in a simple concise presentation. You hit the nail on the head and I sincerely hope the Google+ team is on it.

On slide9 I agree "Helping us connect to a bunch of famous people isn't the solution" however I do famous people can play an important role for Google+ by becoming the icebreaker.

We have seen Twitter begin used in this manner in reality shows such as X-Factor & American Idol.

Similarly Broadcasters, TV show hosts could use Google+ to engage people about a certain topic of interest, encouraging home audience to participate in the discussion on their Google Page, then create a circle for these people, grow the circle and share them. And the ball starts rolling.

Can you imagine if American Idol uses Google+ for the next season?
 
+Esben Jensen What you must remember is that services such as Facebook and Plus are intrinsically linked to identity so will always necessitate some kind of login. 
 
+Colin Walker There is a lot of things going on that is mainly linked to the subject matter, and less so the individuals involved. Within a circle of close friends the login makes sense, but for public posting I don't see why it shouldn't be possible to better integrate with search engines and thus the rest of the net.

If the G+ front page showed trending topics, instead of just UI elements that might go a long way to pull people in. Compare the front page of Youtube with that of G+ for instance.
 
Another awesome slide-post, by +Gideon Rosenblatt.
I agree with the suggestion list, why have famous people on there, WHY!? Normal people like us drive them to fame, same goes with Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Google need to start fixing this issue ASAP. +1 and shared.
 
+David Prieto well G Calendar is the only major time oriented product Google has for the average user. At some it will get integrated. I did a mockup of it once, looked like a blogger archive dropdown menu on ones profile. More likely, integration will mean a Calendar button on one's profile. With an option like photos, videos, or pluses to determine who sees it. What it will mean is access to posts by date (already available at the top of all posts). But on a calendar!

Other time based products like analytics (which the average googler doesn't use) and Ngram (a minor product that could be integrated, would help with access to older posts. Ngram would be a perfect search for word trends. Who knows.

But google Calendar.... that will come.
 
Interest led engagement seems to me more forward looking and to contain a greater potential for synthesis whereas Facebook seems to me to induce inertia in forming larger social networks...
 
great article and discussion! I feel social media has to become what email has become: interchangeable and open, as in, when email first came about AOL users could only email other AOL users. This is the current problem with Facebook and Google+ most people I know aren't "switching" because all their contacts are on Facebook and now they will have to spend more time to check both accounts. Have the option that someone with a Facebook account can add someone from Google+ to their friends. I know the tech part and more importantly the business part has a lot to go but if this doesn't happen I feel everything will get watered down and become a huge cluster of social chaos.
 
As a child I use to be a shy person, these days I’m an engager. Social sites like Google+ and many blogs I use to hang out on have allowed me to be more comfortable with myself and my opinions and this allows me to be more engaging with people. I spend a lot more than 3 minutes on Google+, heck my job browser is open nearly 8 hours on Google+ although I am not on it the 8 hours cause obviously I am working but am usually on it during lunch and breaks and glance at it from time to time.

I started off on Facebook but never found a real liking to it. I found the people there boring even though they were family and “friends”. I say “friends” because in essence the word friend has been watered down by Facebook as people we know or use to know when we were younger and who we may have a few words with thru Facebook but in reality we are not real friends. Me? I saw a lot of random “today looks nice” and “May God bless you all” posts on my Facebook stream but with little interaction from the person posting it even when people commented. Yes, Facebook does get people to engage but it’s at a more personal level and you either are very personal with the people on your list or you are not. This made it very boring for me as most people I knew on Facebook had little in common with me and had little interest in interacting with my posts.

My online name is Chatterbox Chuck for a reason, I like to talk, engage, debate and argue all with the intention of getting to know people, finding how others think and hopefully learn something knew or teach something new. Google+ seems to be the perfect place for this which is why I like it but I agree it needs more engaging tools and also people need to be willing to engage more. I have over 1500 followers where as I have nearly 5000 I follow but I tend to engage a whole lot more on other peoples post than they do on mine. I sometimes think that either people find my posts boring or the Circle slider feature keeps me muted to them and I end up with hardly anything more than a +1 or maybe a share if I am lucky. Especially on my +This Weeks Pick page.

One feature I would like to see is the ability to be notified when one is in a shared circle. There are times when all of a sudden I get a lot of followers and I have no idea how they found me when I barely see any comments on my posts. Can’t tell if it’s because of all the comments I post on other peoples posts or because I am in a shared circle. I believe this can greatly improve Google+.
 
It's all been said above, but brilliant work and it's clear that you've put some thought and clear thinking into an abstract problem. You are already wise and generous, and I hope one day you also become rich and famous.
 
brilliant use of the album to create a slide show!!
not sure if i m gonna with most of the parts .. but I surely agree that we must drop the "G+ = FB 2.0" mindset ..
Your present GF is a completely different person from your ex :P
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt Thanks for this share. The engaging question is for me key. I think that the collaboration code is so far not solved by any social network. We have transient discussions (some really awesome one). However, if it comes to real projects, which evolve from these discussions, no social network so far provides a sufficient infrastructure. There are lacks both on the structural part, as key functionality is missing. G+ has e.g. the Doc part, but it is poorly integrated in G+. The biggest challenge is to make a social network engaging. This is especially hard in science.

Concerns about our career are what basically delay a lot of scientist to move to the world of science 2.0.
I will give a few examples of such concerns:
How is the intellectual property, the authorship assigned? What credit system shall be used? Are we looking stupid and unprofessional, if we publish uncompleted dynamic documents? How do we protect our data for plagiarism? How is quality assured? Does frequent publishing result in lower quality? How do we survive in an open environment in respect to money and career? Do we need protection from our competitors or can we change to be collaborators? How do we gain trust for our applications?
For me it is quite clear, that collaborative intelligence is superior. A group will more likely solve complex problems. I see a big opportunity in crowd sourcing for science.
In order to adapt to the obvious, we need to answer the serious concerns of many scientists (maybe it is similar in other areas too).
This is really a hard part. Some very interesting moves have been gamemification e.g. Foldit or EteRNA. This has actually been very motivating. However, more innovative ideas are necessary in order to find, engage and pay people in collaborative work in social networks.
Any suggestions?
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt I just learned two really interesting things. First one is +David Amerland described a company he used to work for who had "Registrars" that were at the same level as the directors of a certain division. They had the title and the salary of the Directors (big bucks). They did NOT have the same number of people in their office, instead, their job was to leave their door open and deal with the people who worked for the Division Director. Their job was to make sure that whatever decisions that Director made did not adversely affect the "happiness" factor of the employees. I thought this was brilliant management. And, apparently, they lose very few people (probably one of the most expensive parts of the business.) Google could do that: just have a job description where the only "job" is to go around Google Plus and make sure people are happy. Second interesting thing I learned is that +Guy Kawasaki 's title was not CEO (I thought he was a partner in the original Apple business). His title was something like Encourager or Ambassador. His job was to go around and encourage use of the Apple products to THE PEOPLE INSIDE APPLE. That's an extraordinary idea. But makes a lot of sense. So, what if Google Plus had paid ambassadors. Google has the money to probably hire thousands. When a new person came on, they would be greeted by someone who knew the ropes and could help them find a good mix of people?
 
+Gerd Moe-Behrens interesting questions you raise. On my +Research page, I occasionally post follow-up posts on the development of science 2.0 as you put it. Open source publishing of scientific articles, rather than in closed payed journals is on its way. The major universities opening up their doors to free, web-based secondary student attendance will put pressure on scientific journals to follow suit. How can a non-paying student follow the course when access to payed journals, etc, is only granted to paying students? It's a major concern for me, as a student, because I will lose so much access to research articles once my studies are finished this term. No student, no access.

The Google model will have to be implemented somehow. Usage provides an interest graph which helps create revenue. Interest in research pushes it up a notch in the scale? Who knows. Google Knol was recently disbanded, but it was a product I used and thought was well worth investing in. Research could, should?, go that direction.

I only wish, as Gideon is saying here, that this interest graph Google has would be put to some use for the users themselves who actually generate all that data. Why should third parties, and not myself, have access to my analytics?
Matt R
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there's a g+ engagement problem? news to me.
Problem is that there aren't exactly any good guides to g+, and since it's different from facebook you need them.
Usage problem, not engagement.
 
+Meg Tufano I think +Sean Cowen attempted to put together a Google+ ambassadors circle previously. I think +Max Huijgen is a European ambassador-something for Google. Max?

And then of course +Rahul Roy and +Anthony Fox put together a group of people to introduce and help new G+ users.

But more needs to be done from Google's side, I agree.
 
In my view, Google+ is a Flickr version of Facebook !

On Google +, most posts include photos. On FB, most posts don't involve photos. people just post what's in their mind. It's also possible to post "an happy birthday" message or anything on someone's wall. Here you can't ... or you can +name ...
 
Amazingly enough I completely missed this post +Gideon Rosenblatt And seeing your stats I´m the only one :)
Will check it later, so this is a placeholder comment.
 
Google+'s philosophy of 'circling capitalization' and promoting the top 1% through the roof (which Trey Ratcliff is the most obnoxious example of), is not just detrimental to Google+ itself, it's detrimental to the arts involved.

F.ex. Google+ boosting cheap Photoshop glitter has made hundreds of not thousands of raging amateurs think they're professionals and artists because 10 second tricks and/or abused HDR and a small city of followers make them feel that way. Then they use that influence to mislead and corrupt new photographers and ordinary people into thinking they have to act and work like them to be "professional". Google+ photographers have become a species on their own for this reason, infamous for attention whoring and a taste in photography akin to the "wolf in moonshine" poster from 1980. That has to be depressing to the ones who know what they're doing with a camera - and Photoshop.
 
Great ideas. I'm with +Dirk Talamasca on this though, there are still a lot of fundamentals that need to be addressed; Google+ is still suffering growing pains on the software side.

Honestly, I trust Google to make this work, however they do it; this is important to search which is their bread and butter. I think we need to be patient. Give it a couple more years; until then, relax and have fun.
 
+Hans J. Furfjord the reality is likely moreso that G+ has made the photographers that aren't part of the top 1% more visible. And in your own secret admiration of that 1% (which you claim you detest), you bash the standards of those who may being trying to learn something of the art. Maybe it's a good thing that 1000s of amateurs are now gaining a following that equals the 1%, thereby questioning th evalidity that the 1% has something worth being in that position. I think something is amiss in your reasoning. Why not mention +Trey Ratcliff by name when you bash him?

Anyway, a rant from one of those raging amateurs trying to learn how to use a camera....
 
+Jacob Dix Great comment. I agree with you on open access. Research founded with tax payers money should be open accessible to those who pay. In addition to the problems you describe, is there also an urgent need for researchers inside the system. We have the problem of big data (huge number of publication, and datasets from high throughput experiments). We need to store all research data in an open an free common database. This is necessary for automated analysis and structuring of the data. I think the PLOS project has done a lot of moves in the right direction. however, we might need go further with this in direct to the semantic web, real time publishing...... I am working a lot on these questions as a part of a novel scientific collaboration platform. If you are interested you can find a brief review in a recent Nature blog http://bit.ly/Jzz16M
I think Google can be a potentially interesting collaboration partner for scientists, because they are marked leader in database and search. I hope, that their G+ platform will evolve into a real collaboration platform, which will support more permanent collaborative projects, beyond a transient discussion.
 
Edit: This message was based on a misunderstanding based on another misunderstanding, so there was no reason to miss it nor leave it standing.
 
+Hans J. Furfjord After reading your second statement, and the comment on Trey's stream, I see I initially misunderstood you and what was meant by amateurs and your criticism of amateurs. I am an amateur, in the sense that I have 5 months practice total with a (borrowed) camera. That isn't the sense you were using it in, I now see. I happen to agree with your comment on +Trey Ratcliff's post. I happen to have given criticism on what's hot (and Trey Ratcliff) previously myself: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100152754393360938972/posts/PThGT2XKGPj

I post it here because it's related to our discussion.

I'll ignore all the stuff about my ego, Jesus, writing, etc. Edit I'll add for clarity that I mentioned his name (when you didn't) because I think it a kindness to allow people the opportunity to defend themselves, or at least know they are a subject of conversation. I think it polite. That was my sole reason for it.
Ina Gat
 
I agree until you get to the "use all the information you already gathered" - after all, I want to keep some privacy!
 
+Jacob Dix Very well, I take back what I said. I replied to what I thought was a Trey-trooper with a knife in his mouth and violence on his mind, so obviously, I was wrong from beginning to end. Spectacularly so, lol. I read a couple of your others comments after I sent mine, and couldn't for the world of me figure out how you were clever enough to write them. Now I know, lol.
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt excellent job summarizing what many of us have been saying for quite some time. Google has so for not (in any significant way) captured the Interest Graph in a way that is usable inside of G+. Which is a shame given how much potential there was for doing so.
 
+Eileen O'Duffy I beg to differ, anything that happens through this medium by way UI/UX (in the aggregate as to use cases) is very much Google's problem. None of these things happen by accident, and to blame the users is just getting it completely backwards.

"Maybe you're not using it right"... is a tacit admission of failure in interface design.
 
exactly Alex, if too many people aren't "using it right" maybe something is wrong to begin with.
 
Wow. Been in back-to-back meetings for most of the day, so I'm sorry not to be more on top of the comments here. Thank you everyone for all the thoughts/insights. Will try to follow up on some, but it'll be tough to get to most of them. Just wanted to say that I appreciate everyone's interest in these slides.
 
+Dirk Talamasca, I hear what you're saying about there being other problems that may take priority right now, and I agree that when things are broken, they do have to take precedent. For me right now, for example, notifications are badly broken. And I have yet to hear any real confirmation from Google whether this is a confirmed/known bug that they are working to fix, or if it's just that no one is paying attention.

That said, I think that when it comes to investing in future feature sets, making an easier ramp for new users to build stronger engagement with people, based on shared interests, just has to be a top priority for the network.
 
+David Palmacci - that's an interesting point about openness. Google Wave is pretty much dead, but what I did like about where Google seemed to be going with that technology is that they were treating it as a protocol, so other service providers could run it. That's really hard to do (I had some tough personal experience trying to do that for Microsoft 12 years ago or so...). But agreeing on some standards for data interoperability - that would be nice and I keep hoping that is Google's eventual play here...we can hope, can't we?
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt Yes, when things are broken and undergoing changes, it is really difficult to create and maintain proper tutorials. While some may update tutorials regularly, they may soon tire of it with change after change making their good intentions more difficult. Others may press on in spite of it all and good for them.. However, all of those blogs and tutorials that people gave up on are still out there filled with information that is outdated and no longer applicable. Couple this with the fact that many tutorials are going to suggest the use of extensions or addons that are not supported by browsers such as Safari, Opera or IE and that those browsers do not exhibit the same behaviors as Chrome or Firefox, readers just give up. Have you ever compared the way that G+ works in IE vs Firefox or Chrome? It renders many tutorials useless because they just do not work the same. I am sure that most people are quick to tell others to slap the black bar at top of the screen to scroll up to the beginning of the stream automatically. It doesn't work like that in IE. It doesn't work at all. I will hand it to IE in that all of the other functions and transitions like moving from profile to the stream or circles tab works far more gracefully and efficiently than Chrome. In fact, it blows Chrome away in that respect, but you can't put all of the little tools and gadgets that make G+ useful and productive into IE because it doesn't accept extensions.

As far as hope, I have submitted feedback on the problems with YouTube descriptions not being editable since day one of Beta launch.. So I have been hoping a hell of a long time.
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt I finally had a little time to go through the slides. An excellent presentation, you nailed the interest graph issue squarely. As you know I am one of a number of people who were pushing for Shared Circles since +Google+ started. On the other hand, though, I think that it's important to recognize that broadcasting has a role - it's just that its role in social media requires peer curation and proper filtering to make it work best. With this in mind, there are a few other points about tuning the signal in Google+ that I'd mention as also necessary to reach your goals. I outlined them in a Hangout a few days ago, here are my slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1xNplVFzM0NHRLKP9hQHVBKRtCDBa9o_LMmWQ0MD-viM/edit

I was going to do another post on this, but frankly I suspect that all of this is not falling on deaf ears at Google. At least I hope that it's not. Google is the master of separating signal from noise in search, email and many other settings. I don't doubt that they have lots of people guiding them towards the sorts of solutions that we're suggesting. But it probably doesn't hurt to keep on suggesting them :-)
 
Gideon, thats a really great post. A very deep and perfect analysis what engagement is a problem with Google, and How it can be dealt effectively ... Thnx a million ...
 
I agree +Claude Rieth and +Gideon Rosenblatt it is a challenge to get the right attention for good posts. If you have many in your circles the posts fly by so fast it would be a full days work just to read all of them. And to comment on comments in a post is really awkward. It is just too hard to find the thread in the conversation. I guess reddit does a better job at that.

BTW; The Slideshow had lots of good ideas for G+ improvements.
 
Many things said ..one is that Google+ is listening. I am beginning to personally doubt that and if they are, they seem to be acting on very little of it. What I would love is that Google+ start talking to its users.

Too many "known" issues not being communicated to its users..users are explaining to users what the present "ongoing" problems are with Google+,that is pretty shameful for a "social" forum .. Google+ needs to get "Social" with its users.

We need more community site managers.. and we need to stop doing Google+'s job..we are not paid to be the marketing machine for Google+ and if they want me spreading the Google+ love, then I want some Google+ love from them.Talk to me Google+,listen to me Google+ and act on at least some of the "REPEATED" issues that we are talking about.

Sorry morning Rant!!
 
If their were fewer social media inside baseball, mutual gratification societies here, the place might be more appealing to outsiders.
 
This is fantastic Job my dear +Gideon Rosenblatt.
I was out of city on a business meeting, just had a look on this post.
Brilliant Effort
 
isn't that like asking all the fans watching a football game if they are regulars who watch football games - with many regular fans in the stadium there will be many more fans outside who only go occasionally - the response will be skewed.
 
+Peter Bailey The problem with this is that those who use G+ often are also likely those who are both willing to take surveys that promote that G+ is an active place (because it is for them! They use it), and are also more likely to be those that share such a survey. That 2000+ people took a survey, on a network that is at least 8, maybe 9 digits wide (meaning in the 10s to 100s of millions) isn’t exactly representative.

Also, sharing as a method of gathering data is majorly problematic in that, each time a survey is shared, the person sharing can add a comment stating, “yeah, so let’s prove the statistics we’ve all heard wrong!” And another drove of active users “annoyed by the seemingly incorrect data” (as you described the surveyor), sign up to vent their annoyance at "clearly" false statistics.

Recently, I received yet another update from a post that is months old. Some new guy says, “I’m bored. Nobody will read this for months.” So the newbie committee, myself among them, went and said hi. A whole discussion ensued. The same active users that talk to each other on one another’s posts, talked on this guy’s post. The only person not talking was the guy who posted it. I made an ironic comment about this, and he finally responded, “What do you want me to say?”

There is a large core of active users, but the default of all those youtube, gmail, etc users out there that have made an account, but haven’t found a use for it, all of those millions have dragged the statistics of that strong core down.

How many of my 11,000+ circlers actually comment on my posts? Maybe a good 200 or so. I can honestly believe a statistic of 3 minutes.
 
+Peter Bailey sorry, but that's a self-selecting survey (of heavy G+ users) and thus means nothing. The 3 minutes thing (and don't get me wrong, it may be off, but not "order(s) of magnitude off") is an average across all "active" users. Really it is saying that there are relative few active users, out of the inflationary number of total "G+ users" ny Google's own definition of "active".

See here -> plus.google.com/112964117318166648677/posts/fGPQqg5q1FG

There is another longer comment where I explained the average time spent issue in light of the 80/20 Principle, can't find it right now but will post here once I do.
 
Found it: plus.google.com/106313443642953370943/posts/D18j8hQyoEL

"...that depends on your definition of "most people here". If you count every user that ever logs in in a given month, then the average could well be that.

You have to assume an 80/20 Principle distribution, which is also recursive. So 20% of users will have 80% of the minutes in the system per month, by recursion, 1% will have about 50% (rounding a bit to keep the math simple).

If we assume 60M U.S. users with any monthly activity (generous), then they would spend a total of 180M minutes if the 3 min average were true. And the top 1% of those would spend about 50% = 90M, divided by 600k users = 150 minutes on average per user per month. That would be 2.5 hours.

If you recurse it one more time, you could get 120k of the top 0.2% or so of users, spending 72M hours, or 600 Minutes (= 10 hours) per user per month.

Do you see how this works? So it could well be that Comscore is off in its estimate, but probably not by an order of magnitude. Let's say the average was really 10 minutes. Would that make you happier about their findings?

That would mean that the 120,000 top active U.S. users use it for 30 hours or more per month in that case. Keep in mind that that sample of the 500 or so people that YOU are following on here may be among the even more active subset of those 120,000. That's actually extremely likely.

But that doesn't mean that the average for the entire system is suddenly going to be 10 hours per month per user."
---
 
+Jacob Dix That happened with some girl! She posted something like "it's so dead here" and over night got about 300 comments.

The survey probably is biased, but so was Comscore's. Imo our survery was more accurate because it included 'users of Google+'. I don't consider registered-but-no-users as users.
 
+Peter Bailey sorry, but that is Google's own definition they keep trotting out. I agree that it would have been much better to come out with the REAL, actual numbers of both active users in the true sense of the word, as well as how much time they actually spend. Transparency, you know.
 
Excellent presentation of how Google Plus is different than Facebook +Gideon Rosenblatt . The slides are very powerful.

I have found the shared circles to be a double edge sword - on one hand you can find out about a lot of great and interesting people, but it does promote the "Rich get richer" scheme you mention.

Admittedly I need to spend more time in looking up each person I add as part of a shared circle and usually don't get around to nearly 50% of the people.

I am not sure whether a successful platform is measured by the amount of time we spend on it rather on what we get out of it and can say personally that I have made much more meaningful and long term connections with people on Google Plus that I never would have met on Facebook...
 
I always feel there is something missing in Google+.. Feels like there is some barrier or restriction.. not to engage as much actively as in Facebook or Twitter.. Google+ doesn't provide useful way to get involved in real-time interests sharing.. as in Facebook or twitter.. Will Google people look into that..? Only then they will break the ice.. otherwise not.. no matter whatever other heroic things they will do.
 
It has been said before that Google didn't get Social. So I'll do you one better +Meg Tufano & +Clare Cosgrove: Google doesn't get Community. At all.

Asking for ambassadors or more community managers, paid ones even (Google has the means), is useless as long as they don't understand community. They couldn't manage it properly to make it work. Don't forget that there are still those that claim Google doesn't even know what G+ is. So from defining over building to managing this social product, connecting communities on a global scale? Not gonna happen any time soon. They should have community managers by country just for starters, leading armies of ambassadors & volunteers. But they can't even get a unified approach to discuss features and collect feedback efficiently (let alone provide feedback), just on G+ alone, just in English alone.

Now Facebook doesn't get community either. Google even does a better job than them. But Facebook has a gazillion brands. Brands that created their pages to cater to their fans and community members, even replacing pages on their own sites in many cases. Those brands employ social media teams and CM's.

G+ to me should be a global network of communities, armed with all the Google tools to build just about anything any group could wish for.

But if Google itself can't pull it off, can't show us the way? Can't lead by example? Possibly not even care... are we going to do it for free? Some are trying, putting in enormous efforts, just to be met with silence on Google's part. To be met with sudden changes, putting dents into anyone's work.

I've been patiently waiting for sign of solutions. I've stopped repeating the same issues. I don't give any good solutions until I see the will from Google to tackle the problems. Yes, I keep what I really think to myself for now. Yes, I know this product is still young, but if someone else comes closer in the meantime or if the people I'm interested in move, I'll move too and discuss the ideas there.

Now you could ask: "Who are you to think you know better?". That's the whole tragedy of it. For a world leader with so many resources aiming for a global product, putting everything it has into it, going up against Facebook, I expect nothing short of the best. The absolute best should know 10x better than I do. Yet I can't shake the feeling that even on a bad day I could give them a run for their money. And that is just depressing.

This was not a rant by the way. This is just me saying that I'm adjusting my expectations of this place. Looking for the best use I can think of. Maybe I should give up on my dream illusion of a global network of connected communities where I could do almost all of my online living.
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt Brilliant post and some great ideas. I think that Google has been moving slowly in this direction, but I hope that they pay attention to your ideas for content & topic curation, as I think they have a lot of potential and I'd find them useful.

+Colin Walker I've been hoping for stronger integration between Blogger and Google+ as well. Google+ could almost be used as a blogging platform, and except for the fact that it has less formatting options, I prefer the Google+ interface to the Blogger interface. Being able to share to Google+ from Blogger is helpful, but it doesn't go far enough.

+David Prieto Good suggestions! You can create an empty circle and share to it to "bookmark" posts, but that's not intuitive or obvious. It would be nice to have a way to save posts built into the interface.

+Pam Chalkley My son is a physics major, too, so I have the same problem!
 
Excellent perceptive observations. I'm going to read through all the comments here - looks like a great discussion.
 
+Eileen O'Duffy, +Anita Law, +Peter Bailey - just wanted to follow up on the whole 3 minute thing. I do actually believe it is still not only valid, but incredibly important. Rather than going into it here in a comment, I did a whole new post on it and found out some very interesting things about engagement and average friend numbers on Facebook when it was at a comparable age to what Google+ is right now:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/105103058358743760661/posts/V6rq5i1VFZ8
 
Just by looking at the number of comments on this post, it's obvious that Google+ has many users, but unfortunately, content is usually only visible to those who put in the effort to look for it. In a way, posts live in different "visibility bubbles" if you will. Case in point, I wouldn't have discovered this post had I not searched for a certain hash tag.

Another point about content: when I look at twitter, everyone is capturing photos and videos and tweeting from their phones; it's what people carry and use to connect to the web all day. Google+ is not so attractive for creating or consuming content on phones.

I agree that there should be a way to follow topics of interests (#hashtags) just as easily as following people so that people become more engaged with content.
 
3 things come to mind as I read through the slides and many of the comments:

What's hot in Tech, Photography, News etc
We have SUL categories and What's Hot so how about a What's Hot by these categories to help people find others with shared interests.

Stop advertising like G+ is Facebook
From the TV ads I've seen they seem to be highlighting how you can connect and interact with people you know. Err that's Facebook right? Why not advertise on the basis of interacting with people with shared interests if that is what G+ is about?

Limited time availability
Some of us have abandoned other networks in favour of G+. Many people are unwilling to do that and they cite lack of time to participate in yet another social network. Again promoting the points about it bring about their interests and differentiating it based on that would make it more compelling to spend more time here.

I agree that it's hard to get engagement and also that the onus is on us to interact with others and eventually you'll see this reciprocated. The problems, as others have pointed out that many 'popular' people don't engage to comments left on their posts. With the limited time people have to spend on social networking sites they can get disillusioned by this so what happens? They go back to FB where they get interaction. Isn't +Robert Scoble spending more time on FB because he gets more interaction there?

Thanks +Gideon Rosenblatt for this great post. 
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt - This is great to read. This comment thread - even better. I love how your presentation created a centerpoint for people to rally around common product feedback. Thanks much!
 
It's great to know that you're seeing this stuff, +Natalie Villalobos. We all obviously care a lot about the future of the service. I'm sure it's hard for you too because you know what's coming, and I'm betting it will address some of these things. Thanks for tuning in.
 
Averages are deceiving. On Average, Bill Gates and fifty of us here are Billionaires.
 
I can agree in many points, You are talking about that new people have hard to start up here, and it should not be so hard if we help...we have a lot of driving spirit here , you also talking about borders and compere it with FB who is a place which are build on all types of limits. The most important thing with g+ is just interest and the person is not only h/hers interest the person is so much more, the way to connect to each other and the gently curiosity is another difference that I cant find on FB . Here I can have debates on everything because even if there is a interest who connect us...we have the ability to join every discussion and we have to keep the door open and not close it. And we on g+ are the icebreaker....
 
I want to apologize in advance if my approach here is wrong, but I know of no better way sorry. I don't want to seem like aimlessly ranting, as I'm a problem solver by nature. There are people that can express thoughts and solutions in much better ways than I can. Your slideshow here is a great example +Gideon Rosenblatt. So is +M Sinclair Stevens's post that I want to link here. Given I was talking about the importance of community and given the fact that this thread was read by +Natalie Villalobos, I would like to ask you to go over to the other thread and read +M Sinclair Stevens's answer to +Yonatan Zunger in particular. I intuitively feel that therein lay solutions that could help bridge the gaps between a 'popular' take on Social, doing good Community and end a #waronwords :

https://plus.google.com/u/0/118011560178264222649/posts/DkNdMGTWTen

(sorry, can't link to a comment and simply quoting it here out of context wouldn't do it justice. If this comment is inappropriate, please feel free to remove it.)
 
+Jacob Dix What I meant is to assign "labels" to our posts. Just like in gmail, when you get an email, you categorize emails by labels.
So here, on G+, when someone wants to follow me, they can follow me "whole" or just follow a few of my "labels".
If you go to www.chime.in, you'll see that's exactly what happens when you follow someone (though chime.in is a ghost town :-D)
 
First, a wild round of applause to +Gideon Rosenblatt and this entire thread. If somebody wants to understand smart swarm intelligence, they could do no better than to read here and understand what's happening in threads like these. This is pure gold.

Secondly, I want to second +Youssef Hachhouch 's comments on community, and the lack of understanding it, and 'getting social'.
I'm old school, I come from the +Howard Rheingold school of online community, and while I'd love to see platforms here that can develop true community, I'm not holding my breath either.

I'm not sure just how much large scale enterprises can "get social". It is to me, a fairly massive leap in mindsets and mental models for those who are building business platforms to truly make that innate connection. Hierarchies inevitably arise, and this is no different, and for those of us that make up the supporting strata upon which all this is based look to the gods that be for models, means and methods to serve our needs, disappointment is the likely outcome.

Whatever the shortcomings of social platforms like G+, Facebook, etc have, they still give us the ability to connect people and ideas like never before in human history, and what we do with that ability, is up to us. We literally have at our fingertips the ability to shape the world ahead of us. How much G+, or Facebook, or whatever gods that be get that is irrelevant in the big scheme of things. What is important is that we get that.
 
+Youssef Hachhouch and +Gregory Esau - thank you both for the thoughtful comments. And +Youssef Hachhouch, sorry to miss yours earlier. I was trying not to dominate this thread with lots of my own replies, but sometimes that means you end up not replying to important perspectives - like yours.

I think it's a fair point about Google and community. This is a company where computer science is the main driver. I keep thinking of social platforms like this being made up of systems (mostly software), policies (Google's rules for how we use the systems), practices (our own personal ways of using the systems) and culture (our emergent, shared practices).

Community is something that touches all four of these pillars. Google can't do it with the system and policies alone. But then, we users can't do it with just the practices and culture.

It's a partnership, and right now, I agree that it does feel as though the company is leaning a little too heavily on the software and not enough on the human aspects of building community. There are lots of different variants to ideas for more fully tapping people power here, and I do think that is going to be important to the service's success.
 
It's a difficult dynamic to picture, when in places like these, we are both the user and the product, +Gideon Rosenblatt . I enthusiastically applaud users like yourself, +Max Huijgen , +Jacob Dix , +Mark Traphagen , and hundreds of others who are doing the lions share of creating a gravity of energy in representing the user experience to the Google+ team. That +Natalie Villalobos reads through here is indicative that the G+ community team does listen and care.

Ultimately, Google is an advertising company, using some of the most innovative (and successful!) ways to introduce the producer to the consumer, and vice versa. It's brilliant, imo, to see Google creating this model that few others have had the ability to, a model that will in time "change everything". It's like being part of one of the great experiments of this age! And to witness up close and in near real time how it is unfolding, and what it means (we think) to us and the greater scheme of things.

Somewhere in here is a shared set of values where Google wins, and 'we' win. My own (somewhat) idealistic version of all this is that if Google will understand enough of what is important to us, if we understand enough of what is important to Google, a whole emergence of win-win scenarios will wonderfully spin out from systems and processes we're co-creating here!
 
I am nothing if not optimistic, +Alex Schleber !

Google may miss the boat. I've been reading through the account of how Yahoo made a disaster of it's integration of Flicker, and while I think Google is for the most part smarter than Yahoo, it's still a big entity and odds are big entities lose site of the trees (and other valuable flora and fauna) in their efforts to build a forest.
 
A university professor of mine used to say, "for every complex problem there is a simple solution; that is always wrong". I think that is what Google is struggling with. The choices and the directions that Google can take are almost endless but the "right" paths are few and hidden.

I myself have been vocal about some of the problems here on G+. I spend, on average more than 8 hours per day on G+. I'm a power user and I hit many of the snags and snares almost daily. I would like to see a group mechanism and that appears to be one of the suggestions. However, groups, by their very nature, have boundaries and those boundaries are boundaries to entry. A group that can't restrict membership isn't really a group. That's what we have now with hash-tags; pseudo-groups that any troll or malcontent can crash. But closed entry groups goes against the open structure of Google and could make it even harder to find content and engage.

I see the barrier to entry very often in the photography themes. People with few followers get very little interaction. For most people, the interaction for photography outside the photography themes is even lower. Numbers drive Google the company and numbers drive the G+ community. This post is an incredible exception; that is, the amount of response to a person with only 2800 followers is phenomenal.
 
+Charles Lupica Thanks for the thoughtful note. The one thing that has come up since I did these slides that gives me hope is Google's rollout of the "knowledge graph." I have a feeling that we are going to be seeing slices of this KG start showing up in the white space here on G+ - connecting the objects in the KG with the people here on G+ - and that that will start to build much of the connectivity between people that we are looking for. That is my hope, at least.
 
My goal for every day is to make a comment on at least 10 different posts by people I don't know.
 
Great insightful post! G+ definitely needs to concentrate on the positives here especially one of the strongest which is shared interests. I've often thought that there has to be a better way to make those connections and you've articulated them here very well. Thanks!
 
This is a most excellent treatise on the problem - not necessarily of engagement, in my mind, but rather with on-boarding new people.
 
I think it'll come in time. There's only so long it'll take before people mass migrate,
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt I went through the slides. I do like the ideas. I suspect that those who were active in other networks can adapt and be active in G+. The truth is, many of friends are very much FB trained. The idea of posting or even commenting posts in public is unthinkable. It is something I tried very hard to explain to them that privacy works very different in G+. Those who eventually come over - mainly due to the more sophisticated contents - may still take a very long time to open up to engaging people. Some rather lurk and treat G+ like Twitter.

On a personal note, I think there is a geographic / culture dimension to it too. Maybe due to time zone, I find it very much easier to engage with users from my region. Culture affects how we interact online too.

My 5-cents.

PS. Good job on the slides.
 
+Marc Jansen - thanks for your note. You too +Liam Hogan and +Wilfrid Wong . No question that onboarding was the prime focus, Marc, but I see it as the primary hurdle to overcome in order for the majority to engage. And yes, I do think that in many ways it is a cultural issue, Wilifred; it's asking people to be public when they're use to something very different with FB; kind of a performance anxiety.
 
Hi +Gideon Rosenblatt I enjoyed watching the slide show. 
Now I see this was from over a year ago and G+ is nowhere close to improvement. 
G+ seems more like Twitter than FB, including the UN-user-friendly interface. 
Is it possible that you guys develop something that improves G+ engagement, like TweetDeck did to Twitter? Something that implements your idea of interest-based engagement? I have no idea how it works tech-wise, but it will be great -- and eventually Google might buy it. 
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