Tag Archive for community

Google+ and Community: Not Quite Yet

I went on a rant against Google+ (via Twitter and Facebook, of course) last week, and I won’t do that here. For the record, I don’t actually have anything against Google+ itself. My only issue with Google+ personally is that people are abandoning other social media in favor of the new kid on the block for reasons that don’t make much sense to me. (To learn about those reasons, you’ll need to see my Twitter rant.)

Tonight, Jeremiah Owyang, internationally recognized social media guru with Altimeter Group, tweeted that it might be time for a change:

All: The Google+ is richer, easier embedding of media, longer comments, less fragmented and easier to find. Google+ is threat to Twitter

I’m sure he’s right. Google+ is a threat to Twitter. He’s not the only one who has said that, and he’s not the only one who is voting with his digital feet, so to speak. But Owyang’s comment brought to mind one very real complaint about Google+ as a social media platform from my perspective as a former Community Manager at Omniture/Adobe. Here it is:

I don’t understand how Google+ at present allows the creation and growth of community.

Round one. . . fight!Jeremiah is right that Google+ is less fragmented. But at the same time, it has no concept of free-flowing conversation organized around a topic. You can say something about, say, web analytics. Anyone who has added you to his/her circles can see your thoughts and comment on them. But unless your post is “reshared” by others, it ends there.

One of the great benefits of Twitter is that any of the service’s millions of users can see the world’s stream of consciousness on a topic. I don’t necessarily need to be following @usujason or @vabeachkevin there to see and respond to something interesting that they say. At least a handful of real-world friendships have developed out of the #omniture and #measure communities on Twitter among people who may never have found one another via a “less fragmented” service such as Facebook or Google+.

When I wake up in the morning, I check out #measure to see which new blog posts are causing a stir, and to read the conversation among a huge variety of practitioners, vendors, agencies, etc. I can’t do that on Google+. I can see what Eric Peterson is saying, and I can see what Keith Burtis is saying, but their reach only extends to those who have explicitly added them.

That’s a key element to community building, in my experience; you need a platform that crosses all lines and allows people to interact around a topic of shared interest—not simply because they happen to already be in one another’s circles.

Similarly, as a community manager I needed a way to follow the conversation about my brand. My angle was one of technical support. How could I have reached out and engaged with frustrated users unless I could see their complaints? For example, Rudi Shumpert (@rudishumpert) is a web analytics superstar. Three years ago, he was brand new and was struggling to understand some Omniture documentation. He complained. I was there. I didn’t see him because I knew who @RRS_ATL (his former handle) was. I saw him because he mentioned my brand and I had a Twitter search running all day long. Brand detractor became brand advocate within a matter of minutes.

Also, why I hate Hootsuite

This is actually a tangent. I hate Hootsuite. I tried it a few times, but the idea of keeping a browser window open all day so I could monitor the conversation has always been abhorrent. It’s too easy to close a browser window to work on some other task and then realize four hours later that you’ve been sitting out of the conversation. In my particular role, I could never do this.

But that really isn’t my point. Google+ apparently has a rudimentary API, but nothing that developers have used to build their own apps for organizing Google+ content in a way that is conducive to community-building. This is, of course, related to the previous points. (In fact, maybe I only have one point, but, by Jove, I’m going to stretch this thing out.) With a solid API and some additional ways to organize conversations, developers can churn out enterprise-ready social media management tools and integrate Google+ into existing social media management tools. Until that happens, Twitter’s API still rules. It remains, by far, the easiest source of raw social media to work with.

Longer comments = more windbags

Look, this is a blog. It’s the ultimate celebration of windbaggery. But at least you know what you’re getting with blogs. Jeremiah seems to think that the ability to pontificate at length in the comments on Google+ is a good thing. I think it has its place. (Blogs? Facebook? Google+? Probably all of the above.) But I really feel that—at least in the communities where I participate on Twitter—the 140-character limit is a good thing.

It’s not that I don’t want to hear more from my friends in the community, but the exercise of whittling down a thought into 140 (or 280, or 420, etc.) characters forces you to be succinct and straightforward. This often makes it easier for community members to process conversations with minimal distraction. I can read a tweet in about three seconds. I can read a four-paragraph response to an Avinash posting in, what, two minutes? Too often, the three second investment provides equal or greater returns than the two minute investment because the author has been forced to say in 40 words what he could have drawn out into 500.

(Of course there are crappy tweets, too, but at least they’re short.)

He’s 100% right about the ease of sharing on Google+

Yep. No argument from me there.

Conclusion: In defense of Google+

Later (still on Twitter, somewhat amusingly), Jeremiah pointed out (correctly, I’m sure—after all, this is what he does) that Google+ will undoubtedly add the missing community elements in the near future:

I’m sure those features, APIs and hash tags will come.

I’m not opposed to this at all. I will embrace Google+ for community when it is ready, but it certainly isn’t there yet. So what am I saying?

I’m saying that, right now, in my opinion, Twitter still has tons of value for business.

I’m saying that, right now, in my opinion, the best place to connect with brands and get help or provide feedback is still Twitter.

I’m saying that, right now, in my opinion, the best place to build communities around topics that matter to you is likely still Twitter.

As for what the future holds, I’ll defer to Jeremiah and other thought leaders. And I’m certainly playing around with Google+ so I’m ready if/when the shift happens.

So am I “doing it wrong?” Am I missing some feature that makes Google+ a boon to communities? What else do you think Google+ needs to do before communities are possible there?

The move

(I thought this post would be easier to write.)

I don’t want to bury the lead, so I’ll just say it: At the end of this week, I will be leaving my post as Product Manager on the SiteCatalyst team at Adobe and taking a position as Manager of Research Analytics for ESPN. I’m tremendously excited, although I will miss many people, places, and things that my family and I have come to love during our time here in Utah, and specifically at Omniture/Adobe.

(Fortunately, the world is a lot smaller than it used to be. I’m still going to pester you, Jeff Jordan. I’m keeping your number in my phone. You’ve been warned. Oh, and Ambria? I’ll be giving out your e-mail address to everyone who wants to participate in one of your beta tests.)

The past five years at Omniture (now Adobe) have been an honor. I feel it’s important to mention that there is probably one company on the planet that could wrestle me away from Adobe at this time, and that is ESPN. In case my blog hasn’t made it clear already, I’m a sports nut who loves analytics and grew up in New England. ESPN combines all three of those things. (Plus, Bristol is only two hours from Fenway Park.) The point is that I am not making this move out of frustration, disenchantment, or fear about the future.

I don’t want anyone to think otherwise for even half a second.

My greatest concern is that people in the #omniture community that I helped build on Twitter will jump to foolhardy conclusions. That’s the downside of having been one of public faces of a brand on social media—when you leave, it never looks good. I know this because I’ve been in the “rush-to-judgment” camp before. For example, I wondered about Comcast when Frank Eliason left last year. How could Comcast have lost Frank? Things must be really bad for him over there.

How could Omniture have lost Ben? They didn’t. ESPN won me. There’s a huge difference.

I’m looking forward to writing often here as I begin to explore life as a daily practitioner of analytics. I performed analysis frequently as a Product Manager (and previously) at Adobe—as I hope you’d assume, we do use SiteCatalyst heavily to analyze and optimize SiteCatalyst—but I also spent a lot of time on other things. Fortunately, I’ve been taught well by mentors too numerous to name, and I hope to do them proud.

You can expect plenty of continued involvement in the analytics community, as well. In fact, I hope that I can participate in new and exciting ways, now that I won’t be a “second-class citizen” (as described—correctly, I think—by Jennifer Day on Emer Kirrane’s blog). On this site, I’m hoping to continue to write posts similar to those I’ve been publishing on the Omniture blog since 2009, discussing implementation, analysis, and more, as well as whatever else I decide is worth writing.

So, there you have it. If you’re ever in the Bristol, CT area, please drop me a line.