Help, I’ve fallen into a pit of steaming Google+ (what that means for tech blogging)

Google Sharks Cartoon

For the past six weeks I’ve been totally engrossed in Google+. Addicted is the right word. It’s like those dinosaurs that fell into a pit of tar and couldn’t get out. Heck, I’m not the only one. Today blogger Louis Gray announced he is joining Google to work on Google+. Congrats Louis!

What have I learned there?

1. A LOT of people have showed up and tried it in the first six weeks. I have 114,000 followers there. It took me more than three years to get that many on Twitter. That’s more followers than I have on FriendFeed, Facebook, and Google Buzz, combined!

2. A usage pattern has evolved. One that involves beautiful photos and large videos. Just my kind of style.

3. The feature set is maddening. It’s well enough done to make you think it’s competitive (and make other systems, like Twitter, seem boring, even as their streams have not slowed down a bit, which tells me that Google+ hasn’t gotten anyone off of other systems) but you can’t search. Discovery sucks. There’s no noise controls. Notifications suck. Etc etc.

But I’m wondering what that all means for tech blogging?

This morning I saw Read Write Web’s Richard MacManus write that tech media is obsessed with deals and rumors.

I’ve found that too, which is why Google+ has been so fun for me lately. There are a ton of great photographers over there, plus folks who run the music business, and there are tons of others, from artists to web developers. Yesterday I linked to 249 tech journalists and bloggers who are active there. Someone made a place where you can list the best folks, even.

Tonight things head into the scientific realm, with a live streamed hangout with a physicist from CERN.

But I’m finding it very addictive. Why? Because it’s not about the original post, it’s about the comments you get. The +1s you get. There’s a community forming and so far it has been mostly a positive experience, although there are some downsides. What are they?

I say mostly the problems are noise related. Or, another way to say it is they are the chat room problem. Things are fun when people you like are talking with you. But then come spammers and bad actors. Yesterday Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin said she was leaving because she had something unpleasant happen. I assume a commenter got her down, but not sure really what happened. But look at the 269 comments she got in support of her content. That’s the Google+ that has addicted me.

What does it mean for blogging?

1. Bloggers have to add even more value than before. Otherwise they won’t get the engagement that others will.
2. Bloggers have to find ways to get attention, both from their own audiences, existing places they look to get traffic from, as well as from those on Google+. Already lots of my blogger friends say that a lot of traffic is coming from Google+.
3. Lots of “pros” will say I’m stupid to not keep posting on my blog. They are right. You can’t monetize traffic on Google+ unless you have a model like mine (Rackspace pays me to be its chief learning officer, which is why I meet with so many entrepreneurs and others). That means you’ve gotta get off of Google+ and back onto your blog to get those precious page views.
4. Kevin Marks tells me he can’t do the style of blogging he wants to do on Google+. What does he mean by that? He can’t use multiple images. They don’t let you link (you’ve gotta paste out ugly URLs into your posts there) and typographical controls are few (you can bold, italicize, or strike out, but can’t do other things). So, if you need to have more “pro tools” to tell a story, you gotta come out to blogs. Most, however, won’t need those.

If you want to join me on Google+, the first 150 people to hit this link are in!

Is Google+ really ready for mass market? No.

Why not? It needs noise controls. Already for high flow users, like me, notifications are useless there and finding the good stuff, and good people, is very difficult (getting rid of people who don’t add value is also too difficult). I am missing private messages sent to me. Building circles is hard work (I know, just spent most of the weekend on rebuilding mine). The mobile clients are inadequate (you can’t share from them, can’t add those cool + links on people’s names, and on my iPhone the thing keeps freezing up). They also need to solve the real name debate, lots of users keep getting kicked off the system and the policies there aren’t very well thought out (even though I really like real names too). There are tons of other things they need to solve, too, but that’s really another post for another day.

Anyway, you can go through my feed and see the kinds of things I’ve been sharing and talking about. Looking through this selection it’s interesting to see what got engagement and for what reasons. But look at the engagement! It’s more than most people get on even popular pro blogs.

One other thing, I’ve hired Kat Armstrong and she’ll be helping me write up my videos and post those here in the future. If she posts, she’ll mark those posts with “From Kat Armstrong.” Same thing if I ever have guest posters here.

Before we get into the list of old posts, there’s already a post about this post, which is already getting lots of comments and +1s.

Link to SXSW 2012 data plot. 58 +1s. 31 shares. 16 comments.

Behind the videoconferencing technology of Google+ Hangouts (Video interview). +209. 158 shares. 58 comments.

SimpleGeo’s cool location-based iPhone app (Video interview). +123. 65 shares. 59 comments.

Audio interview of Geekli.st founders. +61. 19 shares. 69 comments.

A share of a very cool bicycle video. +371. 450 shares. 86 comments.

Video interview of Bob Summers, founder of Friendeo, a new way to get Facebook videos to Android and cool video discovery site. +64. 45 shares. 29 comments.

The TV wars. An editorial about what Google’s acquistion of Motorola mobile means. +169. 86 shares. 121 comments.

A link to a TED video that uses iPhones to perform some magic. +272. 325 shares. 51 comments.

A link to the top Google+ conversations about Google buying Motorola Mobile. +149. 78 shares. 80 comments.

Video interview of Luidia. The coolest whiteboard, er, surface computing gadget I’ve seen this year. +358. 379 shares. 96 comments.

Kick ass sports video camera (video interview with founder of Contour sports camera). +104. 66 shares. 37 comments.

Video interview with CEO of Healthline about healthcare info. +32. 21 shares. 11 comments.

Video interview with founder of SceneChat, which lets video producers add interactivity to their videos. +68. 46 shares. 39 comments.

Video interview with founder of Buckaroo, which helps local businesses with promotions. +42. 24 shares. 20 comments.

Video interview with founders of Tout, which brings productivity to email through useful templating system. +60. 42 shares. 43 comments.

Photo of guy behind AOL’s new Editions iPad app. +60. 23 shares. 86 comments.

Link to ShowYou video, cool way to discover videos on iPad. +76. 44 shares. 35 comments.

Audio interview with founder of 6dotinnovations, a braille printer for blind people. +110. 30 shares. 44 comments.

Video interview with Extole’s CEO which helps big brands convert people into brand advocates on social networks. +54. 26 shares. 21 comments.

Video interview with SteelHouse’s CEO, talking about eCommerce tracking. +62. 41 shares. 43 comments.

Video look at Toodo, a social to-do list. +70. 35 shares. 116 comments.

Video interview of founder of the OpenPhoto Project. +78. 15 shares. 54 comments.

Video interview with founder of RentCycle, which helps stores rent things. +38. 10 shares. 32 comments.

Video interview with founder of Alltiera’s Rodeo App Maker, which lets you do “bookmarks on steroids” or apps of websites. +77. 40 shares. 53 comments.

Video with Pioneer, the audio/consumer electronics folks, who are developing an API for controlling your favorite web services with your voice.

Video interview with Scoop.it’s CEO, talking about curation and social media. +42. 25 shares. 15 comments.

Video interview with NewMe Accelerator startups. I hope these startups kick some Silicon Valley ass. +189. 111 shares. 88 comments.

Video interview with CEO of Oyster.com, a new way to search for hotels. +39. 27 shares. 23 comments.

Video interview with GLMPS, cool photo/video app on iPhone. +94. 58 shares. 93 comments.

Video interview of CEO of Wildfire Interactive. One of the best Silicon Valley CEOs I’ve met. +200. 130 shares. 66 comments.

Video interview of Jimdo’s founder. They help small businesses make really great websites. +87. 60 shares. 34 comments.

A tour of Rackspace’s headquarters (my employer) with President of Rackspace Cloud. +98. 48 shares. 101 comments.

A rant about why I can’t wait for brand pages on Google+. +351. 222 shares. 130 comments.

A rant about my “noisiness” on Google+. +282. 26 shares. 356 comments.

An interview with Teens in Tech founders and startups. +83. 31 shares. 55 comments.

Video interview with founders of NowJS, toolset for developers who want to build real-time apps. +100. 91 shares. 60 comments.

A rant about why MG Siegler at Techcrunch is wrong and a bunch of insight into how I am more productive with email. +167. 62 shares. 110 comments.

My answer to Chris White, who asked why he should use Rackspace for his VPS. +43. 3 shares. 56 comments.

My rant on how to recruit the best talent. +253. 206 shares. 103 comments.

Link to a cool video from astrophotographer Tom Lowe. +517. 458 shares. 88 comments.

A post about what my first month on Google+ was like. +315. 167 shares. 161 comments.

Video interview with CEO of Orb.com, which is bringing a new way to watch online TV to your TV. +71. 50 shares. 49 comments.

Video interview with CEO of Twilio.com, which is enabling developers to build a new kind of phone system. +50. 41 shares. 10 comments.

Interview with CEO of Tackable, puts your local newspaper online and on a map. +68. 62 shares. 26 comments.

Report on why Google is asking people to use their real names on Google+. +1146. 1103 shares. 414 comments.

Video interview with CEO of Fwix, which is making an API of geotagged info from around the net. +118. 74 shares. 37 comments.

Video interview with CEO of Cleversense, which is an iPhone app that helps you find good things near you. +43. 22 shares. 26 comments.

Audio interview with Bert Monroy, who made the world’s largest photoshop file (he’s a digital artist who worked on this for four years). +80. 21 shares. 53 comments.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

36 thoughts on “Help, I’ve fallen into a pit of steaming Google+ (what that means for tech blogging)

  1. So far I love using Google+ but I’ll admit it hasn’t pulled me away entirely from using Twitter or Facebook. There are still some missing features and loose ends, but overall I think Google has done a fantastic job in such a short period of time and of course I can only see it getting better once it’s out of BETA and continues to push forward.

    I do agree Robert, there definitely needs to be a search feature. Another big thing missing is the fact you can’t send a private message to anyone in your circles, at least not that I’m aware of, if this is possible please tell me how this can be done.

  2. Waste of money, Rackspace is paying you for doing that, in that time of recession? I chose those guys because they seemed to do the right things, didn’t know they are in the bullshit business as well.

    1. Actually they are quite happy that now we have another channel to talk to 115,000 people without paying advertising costs. But maybe you’d like to talk to my boss about the value they are getting out of me? I’d be happy to connect you.

    2. Actually they are quite happy that now we have another channel to talk to 115,000 people without paying advertising costs. But maybe you’d like to talk to my boss about the value they are getting out of me? I’d be happy to connect you.

    3. Actually they are quite happy that now we have another channel to talk to 115,000 people without paying advertising costs. But maybe you’d like to talk to my boss about the value they are getting out of me? I’d be happy to connect you.

    4. Actually they are quite happy that now we have another channel to talk to 115,000 people without paying advertising costs. But maybe you’d like to talk to my boss about the value they are getting out of me? I’d be happy to connect you.

    5. Actually they are quite happy that now we have another channel to talk to 115,000 people without paying advertising costs. But maybe you’d like to talk to my boss about the value they are getting out of me? I’d be happy to connect you.

    6. Actually they are quite happy that now we have another channel to talk to 115,000 people without paying advertising costs. But maybe you’d like to talk to my boss about the value they are getting out of me? I’d be happy to connect you.

    7. Actually they are quite happy that now we have another channel to talk to 115,000 people without paying advertising costs. But maybe you’d like to talk to my boss about the value they are getting out of me? I’d be happy to connect you.

    8. Actually they are quite happy that now we have another channel to talk to 115,000 people without paying advertising costs. But maybe you’d like to talk to my boss about the value they are getting out of me? I’d be happy to connect you.

    9. Actually they are quite happy that now we have another channel to talk to 115,000 people without paying advertising costs. But maybe you’d like to talk to my boss about the value they are getting out of me? I’d be happy to connect you.

    10. Actually they are quite happy that now we have another channel to talk to 115,000 people without paying advertising costs. But maybe you’d like to talk to my boss about the value they are getting out of me? I’d be happy to connect you.

  3. Are you still lost, trying to figure out what the game mechanic is around Google+? It’s all about building community and engaging with other people, providing value. And, it’s about being as noisy as possible… if many users are not happy with the noise level from many high active users, they’ll feedback that to Google. I think that this is a way to see if Google are really listening to the feedback :-)

  4. Although it’s crudely put, I got that from the article as well.  The best thing about Google plus is the plus 1′s?  The comments?  How is that different from a blog or Facebook?

    I mean, I’m the same way – I love when something of mine is “like”‘d or “+1″‘d, but I don’t write an article about it.

  5. Agreed – I have less than one tenth of the followers on G+ as I do on Facebook.  The last G+ update I saw was one month ago.

    I was probably the biggest contributer to my circle of friends, but with this whole name-linking thing I decided keeping my G-mail, Google ID, Google Docs, etc. accounts semi-private was more important than having a real name on Google Plus….and if I wasn’t using my real name on Google Plus, what was the point?

  6. Great post! This is why I read blogs; for someone to give me their insights into something without spending hours/days doing it myself.

    With this info, I can decide whether or not to take a deeper dive into G+ knowing that I’m not completely wasting my time (or at least knowing beforehand).

  7. It lets you post higher resolution photos than on Facebook.
    It gets you more SEO juice than Facebook posts do.
    You can post much longer items than Facebook lets you.
    Videos are much cooler and much tightly integrated into YouTube than Facebook lets you.
    Groups/lists (er, circles) are built in from the beginning, not bolted on like they were in Facebook.
    It’s integrated right into Gmail which Facebook never will be.

    For a comparison to Twitter add all these things on, plus add on that you aren’t limited to 140 characters and people are forced to use their real names.

    1. “Forced” is right, though “forced” to use a name google finds acceptable.  People have been disabled for using their real names and I’ve currently got a pseudonym which hasn’t been disabled (which I’m only using because Google is FORCING me to link all my google products – Buzz, G-mail, Docs, etc – accounts I’ve had established for years – to my Google Plus name).

      I’m not even one of those people against real names on Google Plus – I use my real name on Facebook with no problem, I’m one of those people with a problem of Google Plus altering ALL my other accounts.  I don’t even see the big deal with “real names” anyway – Scobleizer, I have no problem talking with you now despite not knowing your first or last name or gender, yet there are people this moment trying to friend me on Facebook, using real names, for the sole purpose of spamming me.  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, no?

      Google Plus is pretty sweet, but this article is simply obsequious nonsense to fail to mention ANY of Google Plus’s major faults.

  8. Robert you’re right that Google+ isn’t ready for a mass audience. Right now G+ is perfect for a technically focused audience that understands how to manage their circles correctly and why that’s beneficial to them. Facebook has untold advantages among a mass audience right now. People already have their photos and connections on Facebook and that’s huge. Brands promote their Facebook pages on their newspaper and television ads and thats unbelievably huge for Facebook to reach out to a true mass audience. Furthermore, the advertising and development infrastructure built up around Facebook (many of the companies listed at http://www.buyfacebookfansreviews.com and other sites) is also huge for reaching out to a mass audience. Google lacks many of these advantages. What Google does have is a large mass of early adopters, and that is who they need to focus on satisfying so that Google+ doesn’t become a ghost town. Google will never reach Facebook heights in my opinion, but if they focus on the right audience they can still build a product that will reach out to tens of millions of valuable consumers and that is also extremely valuable to them.

  9. I’ve asked them to be able to embed google+ comments from when I post my blog post to google+ on my blogger blog as I get many comments on google+. That sort of integration would be sweet.

  10. I just don’t understand this obsession with plus. Its a massive geek circle jerk. Just a bunch of early adopters +1ing each other. And the fact that pundits love it boggles my mind even further. Its an insular point of view. What are the chances of your + post finding its way to anyone who wasn’t avidly following you anyway? If i retweet a post of yours, or share it on Facebook, it goes to a ton of people who’s interests are in other circles (finance, sports, etc). Because they exist on those planes. If i share you on + it goes to my 40 techy friends who have migrated their as well. 

    I really have tried, and I love a lot of the features, but to me it has no fit. Its bloggers who are now obsessed with +s instead of page views. And since there is no way to manage the conversations you choose to participate in, the noise is deafening. 

    1. Unfortunately I have to agree with you.  I’ve written several long posts that would be akin to a blog post, and I’ve had 0 comment on them.  Obviously in my opinion, they were well thought out and engaging, otherwise I wouldn’t have written them, but after posting them publicly, adding my circles, and adding extended circles, I didn’t have one person read them and respond to them… it’s almost as if I need to figure out SEO for G+ now. :-(

      1. One thing you might want to think about is adding the URL of your blog to your Disqus profile, then people at least here will be able to link back to your blog posts. I would not really worry about SEO. If you are using a major blog service like blogspot or wordpress your blog posts eventually make it into search results, and people that have an interest in the things you write about will be able to find you.

        You have to realize, most people don’t really read much. They spend most of their time on the social networks simply sharing and passing along stuff that other people write. you will see for example some movable gif of an easter egg shared dozens of times. But if you write an article on why you see the EU eventually breaking up, you many not get a lot of readers. So FIRST people don’t read much, and SECOND it really depends on what you are writing about, which I can’t comment on since your post does not link back to your blog.

        Cheers!

          1. I mean your regular blog, not G+ posts. If you notice my name links to your wite/blog, yours does not. So nobody can even FIND your web site when you post things. I don’t think you want to use G+ posts as a blog. You want to write your essay on your blogspot or wordpress or whatever blog. If you want to get it into the G+ world, you would make a small entry that would include the URL of your blog post. Most bloggers make a blog post, and then use various free services that auto post those posts to twitter, facebook, and other social networks. Right now you have to make that entry by hand on G+, but eventually it will be added to services like dlvr.it and auch.

            Put it this way, if G+ does not allow bloggers to auto post to G+ as they can to twitter and facebook, then that is another entire issue, and bloggers will not even be participating on G+.

            I guess over all, my advice is 1) pass links to your blog, not some particular social network like G+, 2) when you do add a reference to your blog essay on a social network, just include the URL and not the post content itself. (BTW, imaging if you repost a blog essay to 5 social networks and then want to change a sentence?) You want your actual post post to exist on one place, so that making a universal change is easy.

            Cheers!

          2. No, I completely get what you’re saying…

            I guess my position is that G+ is the evolution of this sort of social medium.  The blogs of today are like the web pages of yesterday, mixed in with some of the structure of print media.  Twitter and Tumblr (to a lesser degree), run counter to this, creating a world of micro-blogging.  Twitter adds an element of discovery, but this is mostly done through search or popular hash tags.

            The problem with all of these is that you need to have an audience to make your message heard.

            G+ has the potential to be different.  It has the potential to reach a previously unknown audience.

            If I create a circle of my technically savvy friends, and I post a tech related post to that circle, the hope is that these circles become ripples.  One or more of my tech savvy friends share the post with their circle of tech savvy friends, and so on and so forth.  Now I may have another friend that is in that tech savvy friends group, but my post really resonates with her indie rock group… now my post has the potential to reach an even wider audience I may not have considered.

            In a conventional system, my message is an opt-in message.  G+ has the potential to be more broadly reaching and more conversational.

          3. @RyanBeesley:disqus BTW, one thing many people don’t know or think about. Many people think of tumblr.com not as a blog on the level or blogspot or wordpress. But… tumblr allows you to edit the html of your page, in a very nice simple way I might add, so you can simply remove from your theme all the tumblr social networking stuff, and use it to create a blog that looks exactly like blogspot or wordpress. If it was not for the fact that I have found that the blogspot servers are more stable (ie, never down) I actually prefer the tumblr blogging services. It is much easier to work with.

            But, the point being… don’t think of tumblr as a different kind of blogging service than blogspot or wordpress.

            Cheers!

        1. And also to your point, I haven’t been using other blog services.  I saw posting to G+ public as an equivalent and perhaps further reaching mouthpiece, since I already had a set of followers and a social graph.  I perhaps incorrectly presumed that things I post would be shared with others, as I share things that I find with others.  Clearly the way I use G+ has not caught on as the mainstream yet, at least amongst my circles.

          1. Ok, I think this is a mistake. If you want to create a web presence you should create a blogspot, wordpress, posterous, tumblr, etc… bog itself. There is a great difference between having a blog/site, and participating on a social network. It is common for folks to not understand this. Get yourself a blog. I would recommend blogspot or tumblr (eliminate all the rumblr crap, and make it look like any site/blog). Both those allow scripts and other things that wordpress, posterous and other services don’t.

            It is a mistake to think that G+ posts will be anything like a blog.

            Cheers!

  11. I’ve actually found it better not to use the stream viewing browser based tool. http://plus.google.com allows you to follow the public posts or any G+ member. I find that best way to use the product is follow G+ posts in Google Reader, like you do your other content. And then slowly add a person or two over time, and you notice them making excellent comments on the existing articles you follow.

    I think in general G+ is hyped and overblown. Google needs it just Coke needed to create diet coke when pepsi invented diet pepsi. When you are a industry leader you have to add “me too” products that the competition creates.

    Cheers!

  12. Good points. As a pro photographer, I’ve been enjoying posting large images and videos. I am hoping that the upcoming business integration will allow more engagement around brands (certainly more than FB pages, I am hoping).

  13. It’s hard for me to judge how Google+ will affect how people blog until they’ve exposed some public APIs to G+. One fault of Google Buzz was how easily people could just crosspromote the same exact content they were sending out on their Twitter feed. G+ promotes a different sharing experience, but right now I have to think about whether my content is something I want on my own property (without the exposure to my circles) or inside Google+ (and out of my control beyond what Google wants to let me control.)

    Tumblr has created a great platform that is both highly networked inside the community, but at the same time public to the rest of the world. I’m hoping Google+ can strike a similar balance that makes the network *additive* to the sharing experience, rather than *monopolizing* it like just about every other proprietary social network out there.

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