Link: How to Keep People Engaged with Google+ →

MG Siegler comments on his own post:

What I’m really saying is something that should be beyond obvious: this next phase for them is key. They’ve had no problem getting users to sign up (they are Google, after all). Now it’s all about retention, making Google+ more sticky.

Siegler believes it was photos that ultimately gave Facebook the upper hand. Google+ is late to the game, so it is unlikely that Photos becomes center stage. Hangouts is good service but web-cams are just starting to become a mainstream technology with most laptops including one standard. Instead, here are some ways Google+ could improve:

Smarter Content Streaming

Google+ ought to champion the concept of streaming content that is based on my interests. Already the discussions seen on Plus are far more in depth, like a forum. These discusisons sometimes start off with just a seed, like Twitter. The next iteration is fine tuned filtering of these discussions. We have Circles, but I find them cumbersome to maintain. When I click on a circle to filter a stream, I feel like I’m missing content. An ideal stream is one that includes my friend stream content intertwined tastefully with my following stream content. That’s why I’m still on Facebook: somehow, I see what I care to see. I can describe the difference between Facebook and Plus with this analogy:

News Feed : Conversation :: Streams : Yelling

If there was a way to make it so I could have my master stream show the content I cared about, I would be much more engaged. For example, if I mute enough posts by a person, then unless that person says something monumentally important (has enough +’s and comments), it should show up. Otherwise, the Plus should assume I probably won’t care. If I want to find out more, then I will select the stream that contains that person.

More Engagement with Power Users

Twitter is great because I can tweet a celebrity, or a power user, and I have a high likelihood of getting responded to. This is because tweets are not difficult to manage: we have to process only 140 characters at a time. You are forced to say meaningful, useful things to someone. If the person likes what you say, they simply reshare it. If they are intrigued, they could tweet back — but only a 140 character maximum response is required. Conversely on Google+, a person who writes a post as long as a Tome may also feel compelled to write replies equally as long; thus, this decreases one’s desire to engage with their content.

Plus does not make it easy to follow-up with users who comment on a share. I would like to comment on Siegler’s post on Plus, but I would be one in 50+ people (more as I write this) who have an opinion. As a result, two things happen:

  • Comments less than 140 characters get lost in the stream of comments that one has to read.
  • Comments greater than 140 characters are too long to read.

I would “stick” to the service if I felt I was valued on it, and a lack of engagement with the primary demographic of users who are followed (i.e. power users) makes me prefer the Facebook model because I know that my friends are likely to respond to my thoughts.

Chat Integration

It would make sense that if I really wanted a friend to know something off of a thread, I could message them privately and we could have a discussion about a share right at the moment. There is a sort of schitzophrenic feeling on Plus. One moment, I could be having a thread discussion with someone; the next moment, I could get up and make a sandwich. This behavior is accepted on Plus because there is a feeling of detachment with a thread that real-time chat doesn’t have*.

Chat integration does not mean, “Stick the chat window at the bottom.” I should be able to click on a username and be given a contextual menu option to chat, view their profile, or email them. These options could be controlled in privacy settings. Chat integration also does not mean a replacement of the sharing medium that has already been made. Look at Facebook — there could be a thread of conversation on a wall post at one moment; then the next moment I could be chatting with three others from that thread, seamlessly.

Overall, it is nice that Google+ has gotten so many users, but it seems like we are all just waiting for that something that makes the service a regular go-to.

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