I've been neck deep in Google+ since the field trial was opened up a couple days ago. I wrote a blog post about how Circles is nothing new to Google. They've had a few runs at tailoring content for each of your audiences with Orkut, Wave, and Buzz. Like Facebook, grouping your contacts has always been possible on Google products; but, people aren't doing it.
I can't say for certain why it's any different now; but, users are doing it. You could just as easily create Public posts for everything, like the default settings on their other services. But, the possibility of targeting your content to specific groups of people makes me re-evaluate how I distribute content.
The Way It Is
The status quo is to broadcast. Having a blog typically means you are broadcasting to the world, or a set of subscribers. There really are only two audiences: public and private. Other than mailing lists, there really is very little message tailoring. The rule of thumb is that each blog should focus on a narrow range of topics so that your readers know what to expect and come back often. Consequently, you'll see some people launch multiple blogs dedicated to different subjects. I'll raise my hand as guilty here.
New Way of Distributing?
While tailoring content for specific audiences within Google's previous social products has been possible, it wasn't practicable because these services did not draw enough people to make it worthwhile. If you have 24 friends on Orkut, why would you segment your content? It's a pointless extra step. Same goes for Buzz. Wave was another thing altogether, acting more like email; but, the numbers of users created the same limitation.
It seems that, at least in my case, breaking up content into groups, or I guess Circles now, is finally an option. I've built up a large enough group of online friends on Google Buzz who have jumped at the chance to try out Google+. The key is that they have varied interests. Not only is it practicable, it's easy to target content.
Does this mean...
So, does this mean that broadcasting content to everybody who will listen is no longer cool? Tonight, for example, I created a Foodie circle on G+. I posted food pictures and asked who wanted to receive more food pics. So, creating a Foodie circle ensures that they will view my food posts; but, if I make the post Public as well, then everybody else not in the circle gets the same, completely undoing the whole purpose of targeting.
So, it seems that the future of Google+ is a repository of hidden content that is viewable by circles of friends. How would you grow such a group? Offhand, I'm thinking of making every 5th, or so, food post public to draw in new people to the circle. "If you want more great food pics, ask to join my Foodie circle."
I think that's the point. Send people content that they want. You know how they say that it's not the number of friends you have; rather, it's the quality of the friendships. By making Circles central to the Google+ experience, I think Google forces users to make quality connections rather than casting a wide net.
It means that I can be my ADHD self, jumping from topic to topic, but making it relevant to the right people without having to jump to different platforms to do it.
What do you think?
I'm curious if you think that broadcast on the web is on the way out. What are your thoughts?
- Google +1 Metrics & Webmaster Tool Integration: Everything you Need to Know (shoutmeloud.com)
- Thoughts on Google+... (shannonturlington.com)
- The Google+ Project: targeted sharing (edte.ch)
- Google+ Must Focus on Sharing With Purpose, Not Privacy (searchenginewatch.com)