Google Draws Content and Sharing Together

GReader to PLusEven though I have been among the first users at Google+ and have commented on the network early on, I haven't been compiling manuals about it just yet.

The main reason is that while Google+ addressed some useful network features, it is still evolving its model.

This week, Google started the challenging task of migrating Google Reader users to a new way of sharing their feeds through G+.

The integration of Google Reader into G+ is interesting.

Mostly because it draws the content and sharing layers together, which is what must happen.

Honestly, I haven't had time to allocate to figuring out the changes to GReader, so I'm neutral as to it being better/worse from a user experience standpoint. I would put myself right up there with Louis Gray and Marshall Kirkpatrick when it comes to information discovery and consumption.

For reference, a post I wrote about how I use Google Reader. That was before iPad and many applications I now integrate in my reading, learning, and sharing habits.

Here's why this change is good

The share layer will follow what you consume. It will also be where you create, communicate, and schedule. The best part is that they share your data about activity with you. Brilliant.

The transition is going to be a bit rocky. Google is a technology company filled with very smart engineers, which is only now looking to increase its exposure with users beyond the search box. 

From what I have seen on Google+, they are dedicating resources to learning with users. They are listening, there is evidence in your G+, unless you're hiding under a rock, and they have been pretty fast on rolling out features on a live network.

So although they could do a better job with designing the experience with the need for manual circles, for example, I hope Google pulls it off, because it kicks Zuckerberg's gilded prison doors down.

Where goog execution comes in

A deliberate play on words because Google is a business and has a model. Which is what businesses need to trade promises. What does Google trade? That is the main question you need to ask to understand execution.

From where I sit, it has lots and lots of assets it can put together in many different ways and trade. From back end analytics and data to front end real estate for ads, to upstream and downstream relationships, customers, internal activities, the data itself, etc.

As I wrote in find the magic, find the user, connect the two, Google is getting the technology, not so much the user. What will Google do?

Do no evil is known as their brand promise. Brand is one asset, not the only one. Is Google looking for greater market penetration and willingly trading the brand experience of Google Reader for greater flows? That is one possibility.

Indeed, having 7 days warning for a product used for over 5 years, where many of us have built communities of sharing is not much time. See that image up there? The transition so far is not smooth. Smoothness is key to achieve lock-in.

I do agree with Dan Thornton in the comment to Gray's post: with 70% of the RSS Reader market, it's not only going to affect what may be a small group who used Reader professionally in this way, but it's going to have implications for RSS as a whole. I'm now wondering whether Feedburner will be next on the chopping block and if I should start moving my feeds now.

It seems it would have made trade sense to migrate the sharing functionality to G+ — established sharing patterns between users and Adwords for RSS advertising were also two good ways to continue earning trust.

There is a caveat, though. When you started using Google Reader, did Google ever promise it would not take it away or change it?

In this case, it's the buyer who did not have a sound strategy. We bought something, integrated it into our business model and relied on the seller (in this case Google) to maintain feature sets without a promise it would. Something to think about. 


The biggest opportunity with social is to turn buyers into customers (an asset) by closing the gap between what was promised and what was delivered. It's no different with Google. Deliberately breaking a promise increases the risk to a brand (also an asset).

A few days ago, everyone was talking about Google+ adding ripples, which is the ability to visualize who shares your post. What nobody was looking at was how you get the information and content there in the first place.

Is this good trade? Only Google can answer that.


I started a circle for business/technology conversations. There are 45 people there, so far only three are participating in threads, and nobody besides me has shared even though I shared the circle. For people who did not use FriendFeed, Google+ is not as easy and intuitive to use, apparently.

Do you use Google+? Where are you stumbling blocks if you do? Is the reason you're not using it that you're already maxed out in other social networks?

0 responses to “Google Draws Content and Sharing Together”

  1. Look beyond the “social network” aspect. Google is.
    It would be unfair to oneself to compare Google+ to Facebook or Twitter, for it would limit ones vision to the possibilities.
    Changes that are made in a week at this time might change in a matter of days in the future. The Google Reader changes are not as catastrophic as some “pundits” led their readers to believe – of course, they didn’t read the full post put out by Google either, so . . .
    I think the limits and hurdles folks face in using Google+ is the folks themselves, not Google+
    It’s not apples-to-apples, nor even apples-to-oranges. If Facebook is an orange and Twitter is an apple, Google+ is a shopping cart that holds them.
    Look beyond the “social networking” piece. Google is.

  2. I like the idea of G+ more than I have liked its execution. Of all the networks, it is most cumbersome to add people and follow conversation, because there is more to digest.
    Twitter and Facebook both allow me to assess at a glance whether a person would be a good fit to add to my network. With G+ I need to scroll through a stream as well as a separate About page to get a feel for the person who has added me. (BTW, most of the people adding me are those I feel I have very little in common with, based on what they’re sharing through the circle they’ve put me in.)
    After I have added people, I am still taking considerable time to scroll through a circle’s stream. That would seem to indicate I need more tightly focused circles. But how much time do I want to spend creating and then maintaining many circles? Perhaps I am better off following fewer people overall on G+?
    Or different people… which may necessitate figuring out different content to share, or being more thoughtful about that content. Thus G+ may require much less of a “take it or leave it” approach to sharing than either Twitter or Facebook. Even so, coming up with more thoughtful conversation means… spending more time. For that, I’d need to figure out how to make it pay, intangibly if not monetarily. At the moment, that isn’t happening to the extent it does with Twitter or email.

  3. Mike, you and I have know each other for a long time, which is why I am surprised at your “look beyond” comment. I think I have demonstrated I’m not after the quick judgment/conclusion/buzzword for the sake of talking about business has changed.
    Are you implying I am a “pundit” and cannot look beyond? You’re right in that I don’t look beyond, I look before — at assets, trade, and promises. And Google is missing out on a really good trade.

  4. It does require more work and I don’t mind doing that. What’s interesting to note, though, is that it shows quickly how little attention people pay to the things *they* sign up for in the first place. I started a circle for business/technology conversations and every time I share only within that circle, I get almost zero participation… even polling people. Was that a way to get a “circle” because it feels equivalent to a follow? Fundamentally, one gets out of life what they put in. Social networks have made it easier to give people the illusion that they are putting in, when in reality they aren’t.
    So while bringing the share and create layers together, Google has an opportunity to create a new experience. Alas, it is probably banking on users showing the way…

  5. Yes — “Social networks have made it easier to give people the illusion that they are putting in, when in reality they aren’t.” I had that thought, typing my response. (Which sounds so shallow!)
    It is not that I lack the interest in finding new people who are doing new things. It’s more a matter of efficiency in building relationships. It’s hard not to feel cynical about 25 people I’ve never heard of adding me to their “INTJ” circle. I don’t feel the need to share all that much about being an INTJ — as a communicator, I seek to learn about others’ styles and ways of relating, so much the better for clients.
    There is also the matter of having to absorb before one can contribute. Facebook and Twitter have spoiled us. We can glance at pictures, “like” a post, opt not to follow the tweet’s link. With G+ it’s very much like Google Reader, where I have more than 600 posts waiting for me to read. I have to digest before feeling I can contribute anything of value. And if I am switching gears among law enforcement, digital forensics, and business… well, I don’t switch gears within one day. But often, I devote less attention to business topics than I do to my “vertical.” Something that may require me to think differently about my approach.
    In any case, thank you for making me think about what I am (not) doing, and why that is.

  6. yes, lots of window shopping in social; few meaningful (because relevant) exchanges; too many in it for themselves (short term).
    The networks are built in a way that makes you believe “social proofing” is more important than internalizing and thinking.
    I edit my reading and conversations ruthlessly to gain space for my own work.
    I admire your vertical focus, actually. Mastery is a worthy pursuit. So I’m a big fan 😉

  7. The “social proofing” aspect is a fine line, though… at least for those of us still establishing ourselves. On one level I know and value that internalizing and thinking leads to the kind of work that clients not just value, but need. On another… information is exchanged at such a blinding pace. The world is filled with as many if not more charlatans than legitimate competitors. To take time to internalize, think, and build is a risk when it comes to rapid social proofing. Maybe less of one if it means attracting the right clients, but also more of one if it slows a person down.
    (I have experienced the discomfort of wondering whether I think too slowly and analytically for “real time PR,” and whether that means I’m better suited to other forms of communicating than that which necessitates “real time.” But I deeply appreciate knowing that my vertical focus is respectable. Social proofing, indeed! 🙂 )

  8. which is why we trade promises based on our assets so we we can trade better promises. The wind on a business sails is trade. Easy to get distracted with third parties that don’t matter, I realize.

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