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?