I’m googleplussed

Google released another product the other day, invite only. Limited invite only. More limited, for example, than Google Wave appeared to be and that didn’t quite go according to plan. This is called Google+ and if you read the media, the general deal is that this is Google’s make or break on the social media front. Because Buzz didn’t quite go according to plan either. Or Wave.

So if you were minded to say so, there’s quite a lot riding on Google+ because this has to be their FaceBook killer. I’m not sure it’s that simple – the world is big enough for a few social media platforms; what it is not big enough is for just one. I should probably nail my colours to the mast – I am no great fan of FaceBook.

There are a variety of reasons for this involving privacy, photography rights, the amount of tuning you have to do to get permissions to your choice, deleting your account isn’t easy and I’m not sure whether FaceBook thinks they own any data about me or whether I do. As a result, my activity on FaceBook is sporadic at best and I’d prefer an alternative that I can configure more easily, and that isn’t, when it boils down to it, FaceBook.

I may not feel this way when I have 250 friends on Google+.

Anyway, so far, I have to say I like Google+. The user interface is a lot nicer and less cluttered. To a great extent, font sizes are friendlier to look at, and because there are currently no ads and no irritating Zynga games and related ads for Zynga games, it’s altogether a lot more – dare I say it – grown up place to be. I find it easier to talk to people on it. I haven’t used Picasa for years but would be tempted to start using it now to interact with Google+. And because it’s Google and they’ve been involved in image hosting/sharing for years, I rather hope their ToS would involve some consideration for who owns the copyright on your photograph.

In terms of organising people you know on Google+, their Circles idea is nice and sweet. And very easy to use. I’m scratching my head trying to work out just why it is FaceBook is such a hassle to administer and I think it comes down to the user interface again. Google’s suits me. FaceBook’s doesn’t. I never did figure out how to arrange things so that my aging relatives didn’t get all the murky details of any given parties but it’s self evident with Google+. The block button is remarkably easy to find too.

The other thing I like about Google+ – so far – is Sparks. I’m not sure I would have called it that but it reminds me a little of Zite and Flipboard on the iPad. It basically feeds you news that matches up with your interests. Which you can define (in my case, kitesurfing, programming, crochet and a few more I haven’t added yet) and yes, there are interesting things there. This could have a massive impact on news delivery in the future.

All in all, on current acquaintance, I like Google+ more than FaceBook (but I have to admit that would not be so hard). From a feature set point of view, I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be reasonably successful – the simple fact is FaceBook has some critical mass which it won’t lose overnight (I mean, MySpace is still there, despite it all). What worries me is that there is some idea out there that one of them has to win. I’m not sure it has to. I think that Google+ may attract a bunch of people for whom FaceBook is becoming a no-go area because it may be too social, too full of rubbish, not cool any more, or just completely unworkable. Because it has a reasonably decent user community already on Gmail, once they get rid of the limits on invites, it should have a decent readymade community.

I’m interested to see what their advertising plan for it is. One of the key reasons it’s so clean at the moment is that it doesn’t have any advertising. One of FB’s big cry outs earlier this year involved FaceBook email – Google already has this with Gmail and has for years so FaceBook is definitely in catch up mode there. Unlike the screaming for invites that Google+ seems to have engendered, I don’t see the same fascination with FaceBook email.

The issue with FaceBook is…for all that…there is a community of people just waiting for FaceBook to keel over and die. This means there are a lot of comments about how Google+ is Google’s last gap at social media, the only chance to face up to the behemoth which is FaceBook. I’m not sure it’s that simple because to be honest, one of the vibes I get about Google+ is that it may be more usable for collaboration purposes, in terms of setting up specific circles, for example. For the time being, I’m more interested in seeing how I can get Google+ to work better for me as I get more familiar with it, and, as more people get into the secret garden.

LinkedIn penetration – What’s it worth really?

Last week, ComScore issued a press release highlighting the penetration rates for Twitter and LinkedIn in a number of different companies. The Netherlands came out top. What was interesting – and hence rather more widely reported than you’d expect normally – was that Ireland came second in the table for LinkedIn. I was a little surprised. The press release is here. It concentrates mainly on the Netherlands use of social networking media but there is that table of penetration for LinkedIn and that’s what I want to talk about.

It caught my interest because at the same time, an online forum which I frequent was running a discussion on how to find jobs in IT in Ireland. Networking via LinkedIn featured as a key component of something people should be doing; and how they should manage their profile, for example. It interested me because it strikes me that LinkedIn is working more or less as a lot of people feel FaceBook should be – a connection building exercise. I’m not sure FaceBook really works that way.

Given that Ireland is behind a lot of other countries in terms of penetration of FaceBook and Twitter, I’m intrigued to know why we score highly on LinkedIn. It’s possible that this penetration is as a result of:

  • high number of IT professionals;
  • high number of professionals intermingling with the US market;
  • high levels of staff turnover in the IT sector.

LinkedIn is a little interesting on the financial front too as it is due to IPO sometime this year. The expected flotation figure is – comparatively speaking (according to Mashable by the way), not all that high. This is important because the figures being bandied about for FaceBook are rather stratospheric, despite a complete absence of useful financial information. LinkedIn’s IPO documentation offers a lot more clarity.

The recruitment process in Ireland has changed a lot over the last 10 years. I was direct-hired to my current company having done battle with the recruitment agencies which, from what I can see, are really not all that trusted. LinkedIn cites job vacancies as one of their main income streams and anecdotally, I know people who have been headhunted via LinkedIn. I wonder if a key contribution to LinkedIn’s position in Ireland relates to recruitment specifically and I’d be interested in finding a way of figuring it out.

LinkedIn is an interesting way of finding a job; however. If you have any colleagues (or direct line reporting) within your network, it may be difficult to hide the fact that you are interested in moving which may or may not be a good thing depending on a number of matters such as workplace atmosphere and hierarchy, remuneration issues and workplace culture.

One of the things that struck me most about LinkedIn at the time I registered by the way was how structured it was in terms of describing your background, experience. A key complaint I have about the online form application modusfindanewjobus is that it is can be very difficult to fit that around your actual life and experience. I particularly found this with an IBM form lately.

While that makes it easier for HR staff, it may not – and almost certainly isn’t – necessarily in the interest of either an employer or a potential candidate. For that reason – I think there will always be an interest in a well designed and informative CV. LinkedIn allow you to upload these which is helpful.

Declaration of interest – my linkedin profile is here.