As Outlaw readers know, I’m a huge Google+ fanboy. After using the service exclusively for some time (no more Twitter or Facebook for me!), I have an interesting theory that will please fellow Google+ disciples, and annoy nearly everyone else:
Google+ is the purest online “social network” ever created.
Allow me to explain. Whereas Facebook is somewhat parasitic, benefiting from your real world connections (campus friends, co-workers, etc.) and allows you to voyeuristically keep tabs on such contacts in return, my Google+ “circles” so far are an eclectic mix of people I know in real life, people I consider to be friends yet have never met in real life, and — perhaps most important — total strangers who share similar interests.
Over time, the total strangers become “people I consider to be friends.”
In other words, I’ve met intriguing people on Google+ that I would not have otherwise met. I’ve put something into the network (inviting my real-life friends and colleagues), yet I’ve also gotten something out of it. I’ve met new, smart people — that’s really the point of networking, isn’t it?
Twitter, with its 140 character limit and propensity toward celebrity worship (look at how many followers Ashton Kutcher has! More than CNN! Oh, and look, Shaq is at the mall!), was never a great way to meet like-minded souls. It is a broadcast tool, not a networking platform.
LinkedIn came somewhat closer to the Platonic ideal of a social network, especially when prominent CEOs and executives began using the service.
Unfortunately, they quickly got flooded with the perennial job seekers and tactless social climbers — the exact kinds of people a CEO or top-level exec would prefer not to deal with all day long. Instead, CEOs want to interact with their peers and customers: here’s a customer who likes our product, here’s a photo of my friend’s new custom-built yacht, here’s me skydiving in the South Pacific, etc.
Google+ is a much more welcoming home for the corporate elite, celebrities, and technorati who tried LinkedIn, but just as swiftly left after a deluge of unsolicited resumes and crazy pitches headed their way.
Google+, on a good day, feels much more like an intriguing industry mixer than an online social network.
The conversation is deep, the people are fun, and if someone misbehaves all it takes is a silent “Block” or a removal from your circles and they are effectively gone from your life forever. No awkward de-friending required.
If you put time into building up your Google+ network, you’ll be rewarded with a wide range of new contacts and friends from all over the globe. I can’t say the same for any of the other major networking platforms.