March 11, 2016

Revamped Google+ “Create” Could Give LinkedIn A Run For Its Money

A Google+ Creator. Image from G+ Create.

By Megan G.

A social network for industry professionals seeking like-minded fellows. What’s the first site that popped into your head? Maybe LinkedIn, maybe Twitter…but probably not Google+.
Google+ received the short end of the stick in social media when it came to establishing a strong, recognizable identity.

You go to Twitter for news updates or funny quips, to Facebook to stalk your friends, and to LinkedIn more-often-than-not to update your awkward “professional” profile photo into something less cringe-worthy.

But why do you go to Google+? For a long time, many of us didn’t go there, simply because we didn’t really know what Google+ provided for us. However, this might change with the release of Google+ Create, a site that helps you, as a Google+ user, “get in front of people who get you.” 

This new slogan gives G+ a real purpose rather than “that weak competitor to Facebook” or “that thing that Google keeps killing and then bringing back.”

However, it should be noted that, while the new tagline sounds all-inclusive, this new feature functions more like Google My Business’ “Local Guides” program than a creative free-for-all.  Google+ Create, like Local Guides, is about becoming an active member of a new, elite community within the Googlesphere of online influence.

“Creators” must have established, themed Collections (a theme could be world travel or interesting eats), high-quality content within those Collections, and new posts every week. In other words, you gotta be an active and awesome Google+ user, as well as a thought leader in your particular field.

Nerdy aside: “Thought leader” is a whimsical term for a member of a certain industry that has a lot of really inspiring things to say or to show—most probably both. I would argue that Seth Godin is one such thought leader in the marketing space.

LinkedIn; “Relationships Matter,” but do they really?

You might be surprised to learn that LinkedIn has a socially centered slogan: Relationships Matter. But do you really feel that way when you use LinkedIn? It might be better to say that Connections Matter, or Networking Matters, as that is essentially what LinkedIn provides: putting yourself out into the professional world, with a very limited social experience. 

We don’t really go on LinkedIn to socialize with our bosses, coworkers, or potential employers. We use it to look for work and, if we end up befriending our coworkers, chances are we will all end up on Facebook Messenger.

So, the term “relationships” falls flat for LinkedIn when there are better social networks out there that help you foster real bonds with friends, coworkers, and family.

Google+, to an extent, suffers the same social disconnect as LinkedIn. Despite remaining the butt of every social media joke, the G+ has survived as a thriving community for industry professionals that love to talk about their work but not necessarily a place to make new friends—even if that’s their optimistic aim.

For example, if you use Google+, there is a high chance you probably work in the tech industry, flippin’ love the tech industry, and want to talk to other techies about it all the time. That’s not a bad thing, but Google+ certainly isn’t accessible to everyone. It’s the same with LinkedIn.

Google+’s shift to “Create” is an effort to make industry experts, artists, makers, and influencers accessible to people who want to follow their particular field or industry on a personal level. That’s the “get people in front of you who get you” part. It’s not “get people in front of you who want to work with you.”

Take a look at these members of the Google+ Create program, couple Ellie & Steven Kennard. 

I have never seen this type of personal, intimate scene on a LinkedIn page. Yet, these are workers in their professional environment. And, let’s be honest, looking at LinkedIn profiles is a lot less interesting than this photo.

Google+ Create has made it possible to highlight industry experts in a much more dynamic way. Google+ also boasts the colorful Material Design found in all Google products, making navigating through its pages a much more enjoyable experience than the often drab pages of LinkedIn.

And, with a focus on those who “Create,” this new Google+ feature gives craftsmen, engineers, and other artists the spotlight, whereas LinkedIn has a heavy focus on marketing/advertising professionals and more stereotypical “business” leaders. 

In other words, the artsy professionals might now have a network to connect and build relationships on.

Adjusting Focus To Photos

Even though the Google+ Photos feature completely split from Google+ to become its own standalone service, G+ remains an excellent place to share images—this is why a globetrotting photographer would make a top-notch Google+ Creator, as seen by this “What do we look for?” page below.  

What does Google+ Create need from its Creators? Image from G+ Create.

In fact, the Google+ Create site only showcases members that have beautiful photos to accompany their work. Going along with this new artistic focus, visual content is now as important as written content on Google+. This idea has developed naturally with G+’s previous rollouts of “Collections,” which made Google+ look a lot more like Pinterest. 

For your reference, here’s a Pinterest page.

A “Technology” search on Pinterest.

And then a Google+ Collections page.

The similarities in setup and focus on the visual are noticeable right away.

4chan, Chris Poole, and the future of Google+

The Google+ Create announcement happened right after Google confirmed the hire of Chris Poole, founder of 4chan and online-community-building guru. It seems too soon of a switch for Poole to have had that much influence on the Google+ Create page and no official comment has been made about his current involvement. 

It only makes sense that Poole was hired to work on social products of Google since 4chan is one of the most successful community sites on the Internet—so has said every writer on the subject to date.

I like to think that, perhaps, Google knows by now that their grasp on social media and networking isn’t the best in the tech industry. Perhaps, after creating this interesting new take on social industry experiences, the company realized that it could not handle these burgeoning, artistic communities on its own.

4chan, as FORTUNE describes it, was an online space of “crowd-sourced creativity.” Sounds pretty similar to what Google+ Create is trying to be, doesn’t it? Poole, the creator of such a user-fueled, creative space, has the experience to manage and innovate Google+ Create into something huge—20 million unique, monthly visitors huge.

The only hitch I see in Google+’s plan to offer this new Create experience is the fact that Pinterest already has a huge user-base in terms of the creative and the crafty. It will take a few weeks for us to really see if G+ finally has what it takes to become the social experience it was meant to be. 

If you are an artist, craftsman, or engineer, does this new type of social network appeal to you? Will Google+ Create become what it takes for you to FINALLY use Google+? Let us know in the comment section below.

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