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Google+: Why It Should Work But Doesn’t

Screen shot 2013-01-10 at 1.34.16 PMBookworm, book-lover, bibliophile, read-o-holic…I wear these titles as badges of honor. It’s a challenge to find me without a book within arms reach. If I haven’t read it, I want to. Recently, I came across Grouped by Paul Adams. I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog and as one of his first recommended reads for 2012, Grouped naturally made my list and eventually into my hands (http://bit.ly/xFfTnT).

While reading, one idea kept tugging at me: Why isn’t Google+ taking off? Google+ is not the focus of the book but in it Paul Adams cites a number of research studies which, when examined from a broader picture, tell the story of why Google+ makes sense. A few examples:

  • People communicate with 4-6 groups of people, each with less than 10 members
  • We talk to the same 5-10 people, 80% of the time
  • Average number of Facebook Friends = 160; Average number we directly speak to online =5

When looking at our social networks we find that the numbers are far greater than 10. When we share content, it’s getting shared across these groups which, in a sense, dilutes the personalization of the message and weakens our valuable social bonds. Google’s circles concept felt like pure genius when reading these stats.

That said, Google+ is not working as it seems it should be.

Where is the disconnect? 

Many of the nay-sayers out there claim that Google+’s value over a Facebook was never communicated properly to the world. “Why take the time to build up Google+ when everyone I know is on Facebook?” Certainly a valid argument but I think the problem runs a bit deeper.

I might only have 6 groups of friends and only really talk to 10 people in my day-to-day life, but I don’t want to accept that truth. I want to think that I have more friends! If I have to take the time to circle up my friends into tangible groups and then separate them out from each other, I think I’d rather just say we are friends and move on feeling connected and popular. 

In addition, these weak ties I have with others are a great source of information. Seth Godin and I aren’t grabbing drinks after work (Seth, if you are reading this, I’d love to grab drinks after work). However, I value his opinion. I want to know what Seth Godin’s saying. Paul Adams explains in his book that our subconscious brain picks up on this pattern. Our diverse or “weak” ties pass on more unique information to us and we learn that we need to seek information beyond our first-degree connections. There are certain people I follow just because I want to hear what they have to say. I’d love to have that deeper connection with them, but I only have time for about 10 – so get in line!

The crux: It’s not always about how people are acting, but why people act the way that they do.

What do you think? Do you think Google+ is working? Why or why not? Why are you using it or not using it?