Stop Treating Google+ Like Twitter
I completely understand the need to compare this platform to the ones that came before it. It's how humans interact with new things. We have to compare them to things we've seen before, or the connections just don't stick. I get it. That said, we're going to miss
things if we don't stop treating Google+ the same way we treat Twitter. I'm talking about following and reciprocity (again).
I've already made my points about why a regular person (meaning, someone who interacts with less than a kazillion people per day -- probably the bulk of the G+ userbase) shouldn't feel obligated to "follow back" everyone who adds her. There should be worthwhile content shared in order to justify her leftover, Twittery sense of obligation.
But what about the media? I know The Huffington Post and Mashable News are great sources of news -- their reputations precede their Google+ presence. I also know there is a great opportunity here, within the platform of Google+, to find good stories and leads about Google+ itself. Later, presumably, there will be great leads for all kinds of other things. Breaking stories are everywhere. So what happens if a business profile, especially a news profile, follows everyone who follows it first? It worked on Twitter, right?
I posit that there would be far too much data to possibly make sense of the Google+ community. Information overload is inevitable unless you are painstakingly setting up Circles to behave as Streams. This isn't hard to do on a small scale, but when you're following thousands
of people, you're inundating yourself with far too much content to manage. Period.
Following back just to follow back made sense on Twitter. I guess. I mean, I understand the concept. I also think +Ryan Crowe
's observation about Twitter's "deluded numbers" is a direct result of that concept. If we want to create a more refined network,
then we have to be more discerning about who we follow and why. That includes businesses, when they officially join us here.
Please note that I'm really not talking about your regular, real-life friends. Those people should
be in your Circles -- if you want to keep up with them the way you did on Facebook. Or, if you aren't too saturated with social media networks, you can interact with those people on Facebook itself. No problem. No judgment. No one here is saying that social media has to be used in any specific way -- Google+ is a free and open frontier, ripe with possibility and potential. I think Google+ has a great deal of potential for a "regular Facebooker," meaning the kind of person who simply logs in to see what her high school friends are up to. The privacy controls are enough to convince me
-- and I'm pretty sure they'll be enough to convince a lot of folks later on, when Google+ is officially out of beta.
But for those of you who are tired of endless streams of Twitter updates (which are considerably easier to skim through at 140 characters than a Google+ Stream of rich content), I would suggest that you not
use Google+ the same way you use(d) Twitter. Don't follow everyone who follows you just to be polite. It's an incoherent sense of duty that is based almost entirely in another social media network's culture and it simply doesn't apply here. Follow someone if she is creating content you are actually interested in. If you're the one being mass-followed, don't feel like you have to add everyone back just for following you! It would be misguided, I feel, for anyone to take it personally when someone you follow isn't following you back. That's an artificial relationship and I think it's largely meaningless. Yes, I realize that on Twitter there are SEO reasons for inflating follower numbers, but can we please find a better way to judge the value of content? Maybe this platform is our opportunity to do just that.