A couple years ago, when I started a Facebook account, it was really good at prompting me to add friends. The “People you may know” tool was based on some magic algorithm that actually showed me people I knew. Lots of them. I was able to build something like 200 friends who were actually friends in some capacity.
I never went much beyond that, mostly because the tool is no longer highly visible in Facebook. It’s hidden among all the other stuff that has adhered like barnacles to the right side of the screen. Or maybe it’s only in the feed view and not my account view, or whatever.
The people appearing there nowadays are further from my friend window. Maybe people I know from business, friends of friends, wives of friends, bandmates of friends. For the business peeps, there’s LinkedIn, and for everyone else, let’s call it NothingBook.
Now about Google+. I am following several actual friends, but haven’t gone far beyond 40 or so. I’m looking at the “You May Know” box right now, and it’s filled with people I most completely do not know at all. Matt Cutts. Don’t know him. Pete Cashmore. Don’t know him. Ricki Lake. Don’t know her. Did we go to high school together? College? Spouse of a second cousin? Are these people from the gMail contact lists of people I do follow?
Yes, I know these people are famous. But they’re not friends. Are Pete Cashmore and I going on a mountain bike ride this weekend? Does Matt Cutts need directions to my daughter’s party? Do I owe Ricki Lake an updated article? If I want the Mashable feed, there’s a website for that. It’s called Mashable.
The bottom line? I’m using Google+ because A) I’m in marketing and am therefore ‘supposed’ to, and B) Google is using it for search results and that means I have to. If Google, master of the algorithm, figures out how to prompt me to add people who are actually friends, I’ll be more than happy to raise my game here.
Until then, I’m over at Facebook.
I see Google+ a little differently. I know everyone loves to compare it to Facebook but I personally feel that it is a different animal by design.
It is much more like Twitter in that it defaults to a public broadcast format and is asymmetric in the network construction versus the “friending” approach that we see on Facebook. As a result Google+ is much more about discovery, content consumption and broadcasting than Facebook. Users are much more likely to follow people they have never met here but with whom they share an affinity for the same topics just like they do on Twitter.
The “Google juice” effect that is so important to marketers will increasingly attract larger and larger audiences for user content. That’s what built Twitter and I believe that will continue to help G+ grow.
There is also the simple scale an ubiquity of of Google. Android, YouTube, Google, GMail and soon Google TV are all integrated with Google+. The critique that “my friends aren’t here yet” is akin to what we saw with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in their first year or two of existence. G+ is still in diapers.
The people you may know algorithm is based on your network just like other networks. Pete Cashmore and I, for example, are friends so just like on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn the algorithm is suggesting him based on our relationship. It also looks at interest graph in a way to suggest people who share stuff that you find interesting.
In the end, if people are looking for Google+ to be just like Facebook only made by Google they are missing the point. Here is a different take on the social web. Use it in a way that it brings value to you and see what happens.
Hi, Tom. I’m commenting because I have to. I have had similar results on Google+. We onlly adopt new habits because we find value that makes us wonder what life was like before that new habit. Such is the case with smart phones, Keurig coffee makers, and GPS. All else: nice to try, but I’ve moved from early adopter to surly adopter. In other words, that shiny new thing had better actually improve or replace an old habit, or initiate a new worthwhile one, or it’s toast.