In this 5 minute video from the Here's Why series, asks me to explain the new Google+ view counts that show on most profiles and pages.
For more about Google+ view counts, see http://www.stonetemple.com/new-google-plus-views-count-important-metric-or-vanity-of-vanities/
ERIC: So Mark, recently Google+ added view counts to your profile pages and hovercards, right? Why did they do that?
MARK: We now see view counts on Google+ pages and profile. If you go to someone's profile of page, and you look in the upper left-hand corner on the cover photo, you'll see two metrics, if the user chooses to display them. One is a follower count (which we've seen before; it formerly said "people who have you in circles"), and then views.
The new one, though, is the view count, so let's talk about first what that is. What are these views? What we've learned from sources at Google is that it's a total of all of the views of basically three things:
1. Your profile or page, if somebody actually opened that and looked at it.
2. All of your posts.
3. All of your images.
Now with posts and images, it's really what we call in the online world an "impression," meaning that it appeared on someone's screen. It doesn't necessarily mean that they focused on it, that they clicked on it, it just appeared on their screen, even if they were scrolling by. If a post or an image comes by while they're scrolling, that counts as a view, which in part explains why some people's view counts are very large. A lot of people were surprised when they saw their view counts.
So that's basically what it is.
ERIC: Why do you suppose they chose to start displaying this?
MARK: Well, I have a theory about that. I believe that when Google exposes something to us, a piece of data, that they always have an intentionality behind that. They want to give us that information for some reason.
So I pondered about this. Why would they now be emphasizing view counts? Here's what I think. When you look at the view counts, first of all, as I said, for many pages and profiles they're very large, it's a very high number, especially in proportion to the number of followers. So on a very simple level it might be a way of encouraging people who use Google+, that a lot more people are seeing their stuff (potentially) than they might have thought.
Most of us, of course, tend to focus on the information right in front of us. We put up a post, and we got 4 comments and 5 +1's, and, "well, that's that!" What we don't realize is that reshares of that post, or even +1's since last July, can be pushing that post out to hundreds or even thousands of people. That's where those big view numbers came from. So the first thing would be encouragement. Sort of a pat on the back acknowledgement that your reach on Google+ is more than you think.
The second thing is, I think, what I've called Google User Behavior Modification (GUBM). They use these metrics, they put out information, because they want us to change our behavior. I believe that they want to see less concentration on people just chasing after follower numbers, which can be gamed in various ways. People buy fake followers or get massive circle shares schemes going.
In order to get a view count, you actually have to be posting something on Google+. You have to be putting up posts or images. You have an incentive to do posts or images that people will want to engage with, that they'll reshare, that they'll +1, so that view count goes up. So they're pushing engagement.
ERIC: So the first part was really a marketing piece, which is, "let's show that Google+ has a lot of value." That's like seeing a lot of page views or impressions, as you said. So that's interesting, and then the second part is, OK, let's put some reality in the system, so that people can compare impression or view counts, and get less focused on this
follower count, because too many people are gaming that.
MARK: And that's better for the users, and better for Google. If users are happy, if they're seeing content going by in their streams, they're going to feel better about Google+, they're going to want to use it. It overcomes that "ghost town" image that Google+ has had in the past. So it's pushing a win-win that they hope will be for the benefit of both the users and the network itself.
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- Media UKManaging Director, 1994 - present
- Virgin RadioDirector of Digital Media, 2001 - 2007
- BBCHead of FM&T, A&Mi, 2007 - 2009
I concentrate on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business across the world.
As a conference speaker, I speak in radio events across the world - on radio's multiplatform future, the effect of smartphones on radio listening, and radio's place in social media.
As a writer, I write about what happens when radio and new platforms collide - for Media UK and other websites and magazines.
As a consultant, I work with the brightest brains to ensure radio remains relevant.
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