Since its launch in early summer, Google+ has grown tremendously. During its first three months of operation, it now has over 40 million members. I’ve recognized it as a powerful platform for finding and sharing ideas, in a more extended form than Twitter allows. Here are some key mind mapping experts and visual thinkers you ought to be following on Google+:
These lists would be longer, but I decided to be fairly strict in my criteria for including people – they must be active on Google+ – at least one post per month for the last several months. If a person created a Google+ profile but hasn’t been back since July to update it, I didn’t include them in the list. That means I left off some fairly well-known people in both areas. Many of them set up profiles, but haven’t been back to share anything in a long time. You can almost hear crickets chirping when you visit these pages. It pains me to leave some good friends off of this list, but there’s really nothing to see there. That’s too bad…
Yes, Google+ is yet another social networking site – in which you must invest time and effort in coming up with new things to post there. But Google has said that anything you post to Google+ is getting index in the search giant’s database, which should mean better search rankings overall. If your company has a website (don’t we all today?), then it’s important that you get decent rankings on Google – and participation in Google+ can help.
Google+ uses and advantages
Focused communication with circles: One of the biggest pluses for Google+ (no pun intended) is that you can create “circles” – groups of people – based upon how you interact with them. For example, I have separate circles for these topics:
- Mind mapping
- Visual thinking
- Design thinkers
- Thought leaders
- Milwaukee folks
For each post I add to Google+, I can choose precisely who should see it. This platform is a very focused way in which to communicate targeted information to people for whom it’s most relevant.
An excellent publishing platform: Google+ is also an excellent place to write about and share your ideas. Several well-known technologists, such as Robert Scoble have moved away from using their blogs as their primary publishing platforms to composing posts and publishing them directly on Google+. So if you don’t have a blog, and don’t want to deal with the complications of one, this businesslike social network may be just what you’re looking for.
Designed with visual thinkers and photographers in mind: For mind mappers and visual thinkers, Google+ is a wonderful canvas. Google’s engineers made sure that it has become an attractive platform for sharing photos, and has even integrated it with its online photo gallery, Picasa. As a result, it has attracted hundreds of exceptionally talented photographers. We work in a visual medium, too. Google+ is a great place to share your mind maps.
The best way to have conversations with like-minded people: It’s also an excellent place to ask questions, to create an extended dialogue that hangs together, much like a discussion forum thread but with much better presentation. In contrast, carrying on conversations in Twitter is very hard, because it’s hard to see the flow of conversation and you’re limited to communicating in chunks of less than 140 characters at a time. In addition, Google+ offers video chats called “hangouts” that anyone can start at any time. This could potentially be a powerful way to collaborate with small groups of people, or to “meet” regularly to share ideas and get your questions answered.
Two shortcomings of Google+
All is not entirely rosy in the world of Google+, however. First, not enough people in the worlds of mind mapping and visual thinking are represented here. Some have just stayed away, convinced that their needs are already being met by other social networks, such as Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. Or they just don’t have the time to think about Google+, which represents a new set of tools to learn.
Still others have established an outpost here, but then have abandoned it, leaving a half-filled out profile and no recent posts. Again, lack of time may figure into this situation. It’s like looking at a sparsely-populated Twitter page that doesn’t even have a profile picture, or a Linkedin profile with only a few things filled out. It just doesn’t look right, and it reflects badly on the person who created it.
A worthwhile investment
I’ve been on Google+ since it was still undergoing beta testing. While I understand people’s time limitations, I think there’s a lot of potential here. You have a rich publishing platform here, which will soon be joined to Google’s extensive stable of online tools and services. I think that’s going to be a powerful combination. Also, Google says it will soon open up the service for companies to create pages within Google+, which should significantly broaden its appeal to business people.
After months of investigation and use, I have concluded that Google+ is a worthwhile use of my time. It enables me to have conversations and engage with people very easily. Its well-designed interface makes it easy to use. And, perhaps most importantly to me, it’s a great place to come in contact with some very ideas, and the fascinating people behind them.
How to get started with Google+
If you have an account with Google for any of their services – including Picasa, Google Docs, Google Reader or Adwords, you already have what it takes to get started with Google+. All you need to do is fill out your profile and start finding people to circle. You have a starter list of people above. And of course, you can follow me by clicking here.
If you need help getting started with Google+, here is an excellent tutorial from ReadWriteWeb.com.
I look forward to seeing you become active and engaged on this powerful new social platform. If enough of us congregate and network with each other on Google+, it could become a very powerful place to hang out. Why not give it a try today?