Monday 2 February 2015

What Is Google+? (An African Perspective)

What Is Google+? (An African Perspective)

The simple answer is that Google+ is a social network that helps you find and share your interests with others who share those same interests. Here in Africa we generally show a lot of affinity toward a communal way of life. That African characteristic is very observable in the way we use Facebook in Nigeria. But I think there is a lot more we are missing.

I believe it is important that we try to take advantage of every opportunity presented by each different social network. Google+ presents a different opportunity than Facebook and other networks like Twitter and LinkedIn. It is an opportunity to truly develop your understanding of your area of interest.  Sometimes you hear people say “I have already joined Facebook, and all my friends are there. Why do I need to join another network?”

But this is a very narrow way of looking at this issue.
I always say that people should try to consider the name first:
"Google  +  Plus".
This suggests that you consider the qualities of GOOGLE, and then much more.

So for me, Google+ is the network where I learned to become an advanced searcher of the Web. A place where I met people who helped me to broaden my knowledge and expertise in many many areas of interest. It is the place where I became an Internet Power User.

Broadening Your Horizon

I am not saying that Google+ is the only network where you can find experts and other enthusiasts of your field of interest. All I am saying is that it is the place where they congregate to not just showcase their interests alone, but to also engage in some of the most thoroughly enriching, globally interactive discussions you would find anywhere on the internet.   

So, unlike Facebook which basically connects you with your family, your friends, and perhaps their circle of friends, Google+ is not really the best place for you to go and look for your existing friends.
Instead, you should be thinking more about making new connections that share your passion for the same things you are truly passionate about, from all over the world.  So your Google+ connections (or circles) do not have to be your friends from the start. It mostly begins as people who display their keen interest s publicly, and will welcome your thoughts on those interests in such a way that it would lead you to discover new and amazing things and facts about that very topic.

An example of a Google+ connection could be a Japanese woman who likes Italian cooking the way you like Italian cooking. It is like you connecting with lawyers on g+ from top American, UK , and Nigerian law firms, to whet your appetite for your dream profession, while you are still in Law School here in Nigeria.

The important thing is that when you add someone with shared interests, you get to see what they are sharing in your home stream. This is really a great way to find important information and knowledge when you get used to it. (And by the way, whenever you choose to add somebody, it is good to add them to a circle that identifies their interest, for example you can add me to a circle called Marketing – If the circle name is not available you simply create a new circle)

Google+ For Business

We should also distinguish Google+ from LinkedIn, which is a network that is purely about professional networking.

The difference here is that while LinkedIn does a good job of connecting you with professionals in your field of profession, as you will find that Google+ will also do, LinkedIn does not encourage you to show off your other interests apart from that profession.  Google+ does this extremely well through its circles structure,  and that is why I call it "a network that helps users share and sharpen all of their interests with relevant people from all over the world."

So you can share your political rants without it bothering your network of electrical engineers with them. Some have even described Google+ as a place for sharing your passions. All of them (from job to hobbies).
But whether you call it interests or passions, one thing is certain that you can have as many of them as you like. And manage those interests and the relationships that come with those interests very effectively through your Google+ circles.

The Authorship SPARK

I believe that the major reason that Google+ became the social network for interesting people (you may or may not quote me) was because of the Google Authorship project that was eventually abandoned by Google in 2014.
So what is Google Authorship?
You may remember when you used to see people’s photographs beside their articles on Google search.
You can find a lot of information about this Authorship all over Google+ or the larger internet, but my brief explanation will just be to say it was a way that Google related people to the content that they wrote across the web. Many also saw it as a way to improve the ranking of their content on Google search.
Additionally, digital marketers taught their clients that Authorship was a way of displaying their expertise to their readers, while constantly reminding Google’s robots of their relevance in the subject, in order to gain TRUST and authority for whatever topic they constantly wrote on.

This meant that many professionals from all works of life joined and immediately started to link their written content and online publications to their Google+ profiles with the Authorship tag. And this consequently led to the fact that a lot of high quality professionally written content became easily discoverable by their relevant audiences on the Google+ platform, through sharing, commenting, and +1s (or likes).
Needless to say, Google+ attracted the top experts in many fields early on. It also helped their followers & fans to find them much more easily. Hence the social network for interesting people!

The Spirit Of Google+ Is its SEARCH Engine

Remember that Google are the masters of search? Well, for sure here in Africa, they have no rival.
Now imagine a social network where you can search for anything you are interested in and it will dig up what you are looking for with the littlest of efforts on your part. You can then jump into the conversation with those who are engaging on that topic of interest; politely ofcourse. 

You will not find anything close to this on any other social network, trust me. On Facebook for example, you probably won’t even find your own posts that you posted a week before in most cases. Unless you scroll down your timeline manually.


Some of the earliest users on G+ were Yifat Cohen and Mark Traphagen to name a few. They and many other awesome G+ early birds have worked hard to help shape the culture within Google+; so it’s a place where there are now tons of very helpful people from all over the world who connect and share useful information with each other in such a way that you won’t see the likes of on LinkedIn or on Facebook or anywhere else really. Adding such people cannot be a bad thing. Trust me.

The REALLY Good Stuff

But at the end of the day, for me, the strongest appeal for using Google+ is the fact that it integrates with so many other services like Youtube, Gmail, Google search, Google Maps, and so many other services from the same company. This integration is really helpful as it “brings the things you usually use closer to you”.
Apart from all that, the major reason why I think Google+ is very important RIGHT NOW from an African perspective is that the fact that it has not yet become so widely used by Africans would certainly put those of us who get very active on it early enough to be able to take advantage of all of the benefits I have mentioned here in the long run. I did not join Facebook very early (compared to other Nigerians) and it took me about 4 years to build 950 friends (eventhough I already knew most of them). Whereas in less than 2 years (using as much effort to engage and interact as I did on FB) I have built up more than 2000 followers on Google+

So that’s it!
If you have anything to add to my article about Google+, or if you have anything you disagree with, or if you have a question about Google+ or social networks in general,
Please feel free to share with me here (you will need to create a Disqus account in order to comment) or you can ask you question on Google+…..simply search for this post on Google+ by copying and pasting this, “Rotimi Orimoloye  Google+ An African Perspective” in the Google+ Search bar. Thanks.