What we’re witnessing with the hype and geek love swirling around Google+ follows a well established pattern identified by Gartner analysts called “hype cycles.” It begins with a technology trigger, followed by the peak of inflated expectations and punditry. And, of course, all the funny comics showing the demise of Twitter and Facebook anything else that stands in Google + way to getting more adoption or increasing it stock value.
But remember, the platform is in its infancy and the culture, features, and use cases are unfolding before our eyes. Since Google + is being embraced by a geek crowd, tips, tweaks, and workarounds for particular features are being made up and shared as we speak. And, with the help of Google documents and sharing, users on the platform co-created a manual in what seemed like a few hours. There is a lot of energy, speculation, and love for the potential of the platform, although for some they are beginning to see some flaws as the social network arms race between Twitter, Facebook, and Google + will not doubt escalate over the next few weeks and months. Given the accelerated pace and competition, will the trough of disillusionment come sooner versus later?
I’ve been an early adopter of online platforms since 1992. Before I can provide guidance to a nonprofit on a new platform, I need to get in play with it. I usually try to set up a small learning project.
The launch of Google + not only gave me an opportunity to think about a social networking “do over,” but a chance to reflect on online social behavior for an individual who want to use social networks for professional learning. The options for brands and organizations have not yet been launched, so that leaves those of us early adopters in the nonprofit sector either just speculating about the value or exploring the opportunities for professional networking if our colleagues and key sources have made the switch. Organizations that have less risk appetite will prefer not to flex their adoption muscles and take a wait see approach.
What is interesting to me is the public/personal sharing options as Dave Gray shared in this post. This diagram is great, but in real life my own networks are blurry between personal, professional, and public sharing and learning. What ever platform you are on, there are best practices for using social networks for professional learning. Here’s a few:
#1 Listen: Who are your sources that consistently provide valuable information for learning without a lot of noise? Put them on a list, in a circle, or group so you can focus on their stream and not get distracted. I try to find well-connected, subject experts who read deep in a topic and share the best stuff. I look for people who are good information curators. Many of those that I follow are on different platforms, so I tend to set up listening posts based on where my sources are.
#2 Learn: The learning happens through interacting and commenting. Someone will share something, and you can ask a follow up question or read the comments of others. I’ve noticed on Google + that it is useful participate in the threads of other people’s posts where good reflective conversations are happening related to topics and ideas I am interested in learning more about. Ask clarifying questions, provide links to useful links that answer someone’s questions.
# 3 Curate What You Share: I’ve always try to be careful of doing too much one-click sharing. Don’t share everything, only the best stuff. Don’t get into the bad habit of clicking the share button – similar to lazy retweets or share on Facebook. Too much “resharing” simply pollutes your stream and creates noise. Google + offers another layer of complexity because you can refine what you share with whom, although that probably takes more time to think through.
# 4 Engage: Start engaging conversations by posting insights, reflections, and ways for people to participate. This was very true for Twitter as well as Facebook. Google + also offers an additional way of doing this – the group video hangouts. Imagine impromptu small group discussions.
#5 Weaving: This technique works on any platform. You mention the name of person in a comment or in a post when you know they have something to add to the conversation, want to acknowledge them as the inspiration, give a hat tip, or it is a good opportunity to introduce them others in your network who they may not know, and good connection.
#6 Synthesis: On Google +, the stream flows much faster. This might be a function of it being new, but with all social networks you can quickly feel overwhelmed. I try to slow to down and summarize the best concepts, ideas in a blog post. But before I can do that, I need to capture or bookmark the best stuff. This is difficult on Google + as it isn’t built into the system (yet), so I’ve been bookmarking into another system.
#7 Efficiency: Avoid getting into bad habits that waste time. I’ve already discovered that checking Google + notifications can makes your head explode and add little value to learning. One trick that I’ve used on every social networking site was to set up a “Circle of the Wise” — (on Twitter it might be a “List of the Wise” or in my RSS reader it is the “Folder of the Wise”). It is a small group of people, blogs, or sources who provide me the best, most valuable professional information. I keep that group at the top of my list and if I have limited time – just dip in quickly to listen to them.
If the networks you’ve built up on Twitter or Facebook or other places have been working just fine for you, do you have a compelling reason to switch your work habits and incorporate Google+? Will time and effort to rethink and relearn be worth it?