Big Enough to Admit I Was Wrong

Big Enough to Admit I Was Wrong

Over the years I have blasted both Google Plus and Linked In on multiple occasions for being worthless platforms. My harsh criticism wasn’t without reason. Both had great opportunities at hand, but grossly misjudged the behavior of social media traffic.

Having become frustrated with Facebook, I wanted to like Google Plus right from the start, but I could never get my friends to join me there. I reluctantly used it because I knew Google was watching. I always assumed that if I used Google Plus enough, that usage would somehow translate into better visibility for my website in Google search results. Other than that, I believed it to be useless and I resented Google for forcing me to spend time on something that wasn’t helping me connect with clients.

Learning the Google interface has never been easy. It took me years to understand the features in Gmail. Google Places continues to be a nightmare and Google Plus isn’t much better. When studies were completed that showed even the top executives at Google didn’t use their own platform, it sent a message of arrogance and over-confidence.

Linked In was even more confounding because they went years without making significant improvements to their interface, either because they thought they didn’t need to or because they didn’t want to.

Regardless, building a social network based on professional networking was still a great idea. For years we did it face to face. Now there was a way to leverage the Internet to reach even more business partners.

The problem was that they assumed business partnerships were forged through professional networking when in fact, solid relationships generally develop on a personal level first. Once trust is established, then people are likely to engage in professional networking. This is why historically, my clients have generated more business from Facebook than any other social media platform. In Facebook, one expands their network of friends. People prefer doing business with friends and others they trust so the business connection becomes much easier.

Linked In tried to do it the other way around so it served little purpose other than to send an email every day to inform you of new connections between people you didn’t even know. I updated my resume from time to time and poked my head in every other month, but that was about it. All my real business connections were made through Facebook and customer review sites like Yelp. While Facebook was continually reinventing itself, ad nauseam in most cases, Linked In had become stale and outdated.

But today much of that has changed. Google Plus continues to add new features like Hang Outs and highly focused Communities. They tied in Google Places and called it Google+ Business. They developed authorship and the publisher mark up.

Linked In redesigned their entire interface – a change that was long overdue. They added business pages, which are still a little limited in terms of usefulness, but it seems Linked In “gets it” now. By adding Endorsements, they’ve given users a better way to recommend the services of others that they know, which helps to establish more personalized relationships. The effect these changes have had on both platforms is that connections are a lot more targeted.

If you belong to a few very specific groups in Google Plus, you’ll find that people you don’t even know will share or +1 your posts and links. People actually read your comments unlike Facebook, where the sheer volume has created a community of skimmers. Facebook gives you every comment your friends make, whether you want it or not. Google’s emphasis on circles has made it easy for us to sift through the nonsense and get the information we want, which makes us more engaged with each other. By targeting my content in such a way, I’ve been able to get significantly more feedback and interaction.

Facebook has become a platform for your friends to retch every political thought, recycled joke and bogus support request onto your thread. Linked In and Google Plus have become communities for more serious thought exchange. How they develop from here is anybody’s guess. I like the direction they’re going. Let’s hope I won’t feel compelled to blast them again anytime soon.

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