Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is Social Networking Becoming More or Less Social?

In the past few weeks it seems like the concept of social networking and social interactions has been changed. Google+ was recently launched and it has enhanced the social experience which was championed by Facebook. What is the major difference between the two? From my first impressions it is how we group our interactions or friends. Google+ provides one with the ability to group people into your personal groups or as they call them Circles like family, work, hockey buddies or any other group you can come up with. This allows for you to better focus your communications and share what is appropriate with the right friends.

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As we know today when we comment on someone’s picture it may be possible for your own friends to access this image. The problem may be that the image of you drinking with your buddies may be very appropriate to share with your close friends, but not so for your business acquaintances. It appears that the paradigm of a friend is changing. The friends we have become influencers in the decisions we all make. When I go out to eat I check the web for recommendations and reviews. When I travel I check out hotels and airfares similarly, but when it comes to a final decision I look to my close friends. So now consider our use of social networking tools. We use Twitter, Facebook and now Google+ to communicate our pleasure and dissatisfaction, I even had a call directly from Dell when I experienced problems with customer service and tweeted about my misadventure. Finally I got action. In reality most people are unable to consume or interact with all of our friends and true communication happens in a much more focused manner.

In an presentation on social networking, the presenter states that on average we have 130 friends on Facebook. However we really only interact actively with 4 to 6 on a regular basis. This is true for all of interactions; consider you make 80% of phone calls to only 4 people and we Skype with 2 people 80% of the time. It is accepted that people generally have a strong influence on very few people, but their influence in decisions is staggering. So this is the concept which Google+ takes direct aim at. It looks to organize your life and “friends” into appropriate groups so that you can eliminate the chatter and allow for more focus. Google+ plus is not a revolution in social networking merely an evolution in much the same way as we live our lives in small, trusted groups of friends.

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