I'm done writing about Google+, at least for today. Fortunately, I have enough material for a column thanks to the powers of crowdsourcing -- the act of tapping the community to achieve a common objective. In this case, I posted a message on Google+, publicly asking, "Why does Google+ matter?"
My goal was to have enough "+1" votes (similar to Facebook "likes") on responses to the posts to have the best answers rise to the top. There were plenty of thoughtful responses, but not enough votes distributed to pick clear favorites, so I used some editorial judgment; answers omitted or shortened here are included in a longer version on my blog. Note that a few responses appear on a reposted version of the question; I learned the hard way that comments don't append to reposts.
That's enough introduction. It's time to hear from Google+ users themselves.
Robin Greenbaum: I'm getting great engagement here with people I'd have never interacted with otherwise! Hangouts are awesome. I had a hangout with Michael Dell yesterday!
Gavin Heaton: The circles are providing more conversational context within my stream rather than Facebook pages - so it feels more like my conversation rather than someone else's.
Shashi Bellamkonda: Search engine optimization (SEO): your profile and check-ins all will get a placement for your name on Google and a chance to showcase yourself. Time to remove links that don't matter from your profile. My advice for small business: set up a profile, use Sparks to monitor keyword conversations, make a circle of customers, post useful content and have conversations with peers.
Mike Levin: Because it's modeled on day-to-day life instead of a college party.
Geoffrey Colon: 1. The merging of search with social. 2. While not so much about brands just yet, I feel brands will better be able to track and identify who within the network is +1'ing articles about them to build true social campaigns. Plus the video hangout really is the evolution of what social networks should be about. Video conferencing.
Aaron Goldman: G+ matters because it's a sharing network, not a social network. Sharing is a great
way for Google to learn more about individuals and their preferences when it comes to ad targeting.
Shankar Gupta: It's the first potentially viable alternative to Facebook we've seen so far, in terms of the features it offers and overall usability.
Bryson Meunier: Google+ will ultimately matter if it can make Google search better. With Circles, Google has the potential to show me results from my Good Taste in Music circle when I do music-related queries, rather than assuming that because I'm connected to someone that I care about their taste in music. Knowing the audience is essential for providing relevant results, and Google+ seems to signal an evolution of Google search to me even more than it does a Google social network.
Jordan Rohan: Google+ matters because without a formidable competitor, there is no legitimacy to a claim that any point of Internet centrality has peaked. The irony is that Google likely peaked when Facebook broadened beyond EDU [college campuses]. To the extent that Google+ can steal back momentum in social media, it could mark the peak for FB. Note to FB-fanboys (FB fb's ??): a peak, by definition, is an unpopular point of view and only becomes obvious with appropriate distance.
Stephanie Schwab: Not yet mentioned but already commented on quite a bit in my social circles (no pun intended): collaboration and hangouts. In general, Google+ makes collaborating with colleagues or partners fun and easy. Create a circle and hangout together. In text or video. I sense that G+ has the power to change the way those of us who are virtual workers work - in many ways they could replace Basecamp and other collaborative tools - and I doubt they were trying to do that.
Brad Alperin: Google+ is ultimately going to matter not so much because it could be a better social network (it might), but because it will allow Google to better fulfill on its mission of "organizing the world's information." Google+ will enable Google to augment its unmatched powers of search (the so called "interest graph") with an even more personal slant based on a users' personal connections and interactions (the social graph). I don't think Google is trying to build a better Facebook, but rather a far more subtle and useful Google.
Philip John Basile: It's Facebook grown up.
Astrida Valigorsky: Enter Google+ to upset the worlds of Klout, PeerIndex, TwitterGrader, and any other company that seeks to grade your personal social influence online. The first social media networks we've been engaged in haven't been all that sophisticated. With better data and group management tools within Google+ we will be able to streamline those people and interests that matter to us most.
Jeff Peters: It lets me share what I want with whom I want. Sure, Facebook has its lists/groups, but it's not intuitive and it's not easy to use for more people. I think for the common user, it's very easy to understand the concept of "I'm going to share this with my family only, and this with my friends only, and this with my teammates only, and this with everyone."
Travis Wright: Google+ is going to change the way that we all use Google. They will use this new social layer to continue to customize our search experience. They will know exactly what we like and share, and our search results will adapt to those new findings. We are also going to be called to click the red notification button, which will allow Google to add some stickiness to their engine. The merging of Mobile, Local, Search and Social has never been this close.
Mark Ghuneim: Google+'s most important
byproduct is that it instantly becomes the glue to navigate and derive increased value + usage from their existing product offerings and leads to adoption of products not used as frequently. It takes
Google's disparate offerings and products and provides context to them as a suite of related and connected services.
So, how did the crowd do here? What else would you add? Who gets the most +1's? The crowd's work isn't done yet, and clearly Google's just getting started.