What Guy Kawasaki Knows About Google+, and You Don’t


Book Review: What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us by Guy Kawasaki

What the Plus by Guy KawasakiGoogle+ seemed to get off to a running start, but more recently has been termed a “ghost town” by some pundits. Experience with the service suggests less than robust usage by consumers, despite the large number of registered users. When my Why Jersey Shore Drops the National IQ post went mildly viral last week, it quickly garnered more than a thousand Facebook likes, but a mere five +1s. Does this mean Google+ is headed the way of Friendster and MySpace?

Not to worry, Guy Kawasaki advises in his new book, What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us. He offers his take on the service:

From my perspective, Google+ is to Facebook and Twitter what Macintosh is to Windows: Better, but fewer people use it, and the pundits prophesy that it will fail. As a lover of great products, this rankles my soul.

I hate when people don’t use the best tool. Sometimes people don’t know that a better tool exists. Sometimes they know it exists but not that it’s better. Sometimes they try the better tool, but the tool doesn’t stick for them… This book explains “what the plus” makes Google+ as special as Macintosh.

Kawasaki predicts Google+ will succeed in the long haul for multiple reasons. First, Google has plenty of money and talent to pour into the project. Second, Google’s use of G+ in its search is a potent traffic driver. Finally, Google’s reach into mobile platforms via its Android partners means plenty of built-in exposure. These factors, combined with what Kawasaki argues is a better product, augur well for the long term growth of Google+.

If you reach the conclusion, as Kawasaki did, that Google+ is worth spending at least a little time on, then you want to make that time work for you. That’s where What The Plus! comes in. The book is markedly different than Kawasaki’s other efforts. This one is sold only as an inexpensive ebook, and it’s not very long. And while the text does incorporate Kawasaki’s welcome humor, this is really an operating manual for Google+. It’s illustrated with screen shots to show exactly how to perform each operation. Instead of the kind of “Guy philosophy” you find in, say, Reality Check or Enchantment, What the Plus offers hands-on, nuts-and-bolts tips for G+ users. Of course, Kawasaki frequently his perspective on how to use the various aspects of Google+ in an “enchanting” way.

I made a rookie mistake when starting to use Google+. I built circles and interacted with people, but I fail to flag my posts as “public.” This prevented other G+ users from discovering me or seeing what kind of stuff I posted if they stumbled across my profile. Kawasaki admits to a similar error, quickly corrected in his case. When I see people with no posts, I wonder if they, too, are happily posting away, never realizing that almost nobody is seeing those posts.

Kawasaki offers social media tips that are nicely integrated with Google+ specifics. Whether it’s how to reply to someone’s post or how to share content yourself, Kawasaki moves from the general reasoning and strategy into the mechanics of best Google+ practices. One example that may be obvious to many users but I see ignored all the time: when replying to a post, always include the G+ name of the person you are addressing – that will maximize the probability your reply will get viewed, and also eliminate any confusion about to whom you are replying in a long thread.

As I read What The Plus!, I found myself bouncing back to my own Google+ profile, making tweaks and fixing problems. I consider myself reasonably savvy in social media, but I found several aspects of my profile that I’d overlooked or configured poorly when I rushed through it the first time. Unless you have really focused on building your profile, you may well find similar shortcomings in what you’ve got for visible content.

What The Plus! has all the info you need to get started in Google+, or, if you are a more experienced user, to get the most out of the service. At under three bucks (at least for U.S. Kindle-version buyers), it’s a no-brainer investment – just buy it! You’ll get that much value out of the book if you use just one or two of Kawaskaki’s tips, and, if Google+ does prosper, you’ll be way ahead of the late-adopters.

Kindle Version: What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us

  1. Kathy says

    Of course Google+ works for Guy Kawasaki: it was practically tailor-made for him. He’s a public figure who intends for his posts to go viral. Most of the rest of us, however, also share personal news, and we’d rather do that with people we actually know. It’s creepy when strangers add us to their circles on Google+, and we see no need to replicate the social interactions we already have on Facebook.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      The point that Guy makes in the book, Kathy, is that Google+ lets you build circles around interests, hobbies, professional topics, etc. You can connect with “strangers” who share those interests, which shouldn’t be too creepy. and, most important, you can share your posts only with the relevant groups. So, if I like to talk about neuromarketing, off-road racing, and cake decoration, my marketing and racing buddies don’t have to see my daily cake photos.

      Facebook, Guy thinks, works well for friends and family.


      1. Grant Daisley says

        Couldn’t agree more, Roger! I use Facebook to keepin contact with close friends and family – and don’t mind getting, sometimes, random status updates. However, Google +is specific interests and connecting with likely-minded individuals. Much more creepy to get a “friend” request on FB than added to a circle on G+.

  2. Samuel says

    Google Plus is really good for getting articles recognized by google. They sometimes feature articles from google plus, and they seem to pick them up faster when they are put on there. It’s a shame google plus wasn’t around before facebook because it does have a lot of nice features. I sure wish they would let you upload through hootsuite though.

  3. ella says

    That’s an interesting take on things, it’s interesting that he thinks that G+ will make it because of it’s abilities regardless of it’s less personal nature, I think that whether it works for you really depends on your goals in terms of business and interaction, great review though.

  4. PartySuppliesIL says

    It does seem that google+ is a bit less personal. It almost feels like it was designed for businesses, and not really for groups of friends. I think that the idea behind it is good, but I’m going to trust the opinions and posts from my actual friends more than from follower-seeking companies.

  5. Kraman says

    I disagree with Guy. Facebook has a distinct first-mover advantage and it’s advantage is that people find it annoying to move over to a new platform (G+) when all their friends are using the old one. To compete with Facebook, G+ will need everyone to move en masse (which is essentially impossible).

    Don’t you get the feeling that G+ is going to die just like Buzz did? Essentially the people who are using it are all techies or related to techies…the mass audience still only uses Facebook.

    1. Todd says

      agree totally!

  6. June Collier says

    It seems that many of the comments here are looking at Google + from a short term perspective. As we all see it today, Google + is just a blip on the radar screen as compared to a social media giant like Facebook. That short sighting will not harm those who are casual internet users. However, those who are in business whether large or small should pay VERY close attention.

    Google is showing that it is putting more serious effort into Google + unlike the failed Google Buzz. It is incorporating Google + across all Google products and platforms. Most noticeable are the search results changes that are being affected due to Google +.

    While casual surfers could probably care less about search engine rankings, anyone who is in business whether it be a large corporation, the local plumber, or the person who is trying to drive traffic to their website, Google + is going to be a very BIG deal.

    It won’t be until much later, after the opportunity to capitalize on its use, that the casual users will see what changes it REALLY brought to the internet world.

    I for one am paying attention and getting involved early on. I mistook Google as just another search engine who would never trump the likes of AltaVista, Hotbot, and Ask Jeeves. Boy was I wrong!

    If only then I knew how powerful Google search would become. I am not going to stand around and allow that to happen to me again. I am putting my stake in the ground now and learning everything I can on how to capitalize Google + as they continue to grow and figure it out themselves.

  7. Todd says

    I think it’s just that people are sick of changing social sites every couple of years, which is becoming every couple of months. google+ might make it, but only for fanboys. people wont migrate again until something *really* better comes along. and then it will still be hard to get people to switch.

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