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Some of my friends in the tech press have got that Google+ fever, and are running wild with it. But others don't get it. They come to Google+, look around and wonder what all the fuss is about.
Most of these friends really like Twitter, or really get Facebook. So by way of analogy, I'd like to share with them (and you) how I view Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Here's the analogy:
Twitter is Penn Station.
If you're using social media for content discovery (and who isn't these days), you will find very little of that content on Twitter itself. Nearly all the content you get from Twitter is through links on Twitter to content posted elsewhere.
In that sense, Twitter is a hub for people coming from one place and headed to some other place.
Yes, there is some content on Twitter, just as there is "content" at Penn Station (restaurants, Madison Square Garden, etc.), but it's lightweight content designed for people in a hurry.
Like Penn Station, Twitter is useful, valuable and necessary, but mostly as a conveyer of minds from one place that isn't Twitter to another place that isn't Twitter.
Facebook is Long Island.
Unlike Twitter, Facebook is a destination or a place to "live." There's massive content there -- all the content some people really need.
Like Long Island, Facebook is a great place to live if you want to spend your time with family and friends.
And like Long Island, Facebook is an island.
It's not a walled garden anymore. There are no physical walls or barriers that prevent people from posting publicly and sharing the links to those individual posts, but hardly anyone does that. Most of the content on Facebook is either personal content for family and friends, or it's Twitter-like links to outside content. Hardly anybody blogs on Facebook, for example.
Facebook is not about Big Ideas. It's about little league games, drinks with friends, backyard barbecues and cultivating relationships with family and old friends.
If you grew up on Long Island, it doesn't matter that the Island doesn't have the best restaurants in the world, the best theater, the best night-clubs or that Long Island isn't the best place in the world to publish something. It's where your peeps are, and that's why you love it.
Google+ is New York City.
Like New York City, Google+ is a huge, beautiful, vibrant, multi-cultural engine of ideas.
New York City is an industrial city, and its main industries are about information and creative content (the stock exchange, book and magazine publishing, fashion, etc.) and in that sense Google+ is analogous.
Like New York City, Google+ is a great destination and a great place to live for people who want to meet interesting new people all the time, create and publish content and be intellectually stimulated.
It's got vibrant theater (YouTube), the very best places to mingle and interact with people (Hangouts), awesome places for curation (Picasa, YouTube and regular posts) and more.
Just as New York City has Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, Google+ has everything that Twitter has. And just as New York exists on the physical Long Island with Brooklyn and Queens, Google+ does the same stuff Facebook does.
If you've lived on Long Island as I did for ten years, you know a lot more people on Long Island than you do in New York City, but that doesn't make it a better place to live, necessarily.
The difference between visiting and living in New York.
Here's the thing: If you're an occasional visitor, a tourist in New York City, spend most of your time in Midtown, take the open-top bus tour, go to the top of the Empire State Building, eat at Original Ray's Pizza and see The Lion King on Broadway, you will not experience New York City and you will have no idea what the place is all about. You won't understand why and how people live there and what they love about it.
You won't understand New York City unless you move there, cultivate a community and actually live and work there.
Like Penn Station, you can understand what Twitter is all about in an hour. Like Long Island, you can understand what Facebook is (if your family and friends live there) in a three-day weekend -- it's about family and friends.
But like New York City, you can't understand Google+ with a casual, occasional and superficial visit.
And if you're a content creator -- writer, photographer, blogger, film-maker, restauranteur, etc. -- hoping to benefit from New York City or Google+ -- you will get no benefit if you visit as a tourist.
But as a resident, the rewards are astronomical in the way of contacts, stimulation, inspiration and opportunities to publish and publicize your work.
In order to "get" Google+, you've got to actually leave Long Island and move to the Big City. (And once you arrive, you've got to leave Penn Station...)
I don't know if these analogies make sense to anyone else, but this is how I view the differences between Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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