What Is Google+?

Yes, Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook, but not in the directly competitive sense many journalists assume. Google+ is core to Google’s mission “to organize the world’s information”, and that’s a better frame for thinking about this service.

Here are 35 slides to help kickstart a different perspective on what Google+ really is – a “shared interest graph.”

I tried to make this tour as easy as possible with some nice images along the way. Credits for all those nice images are on the last slide.

This was probably my most popular post on Google+, with over 2,000 shares:

213 thoughts on “What Is Google+?”

  1. Gideon Rosenblatt Do you think Google needed a Google+ if Facebook opened itself up to Google search via, say, a 10 year partnership? By not opening up, Facebook threatened Google’s very existence, so Google had to get in and get it right (and it is now a better company and service for it)

  2. Great synopsis. I am not completely sure I agree with it (though have no alternative to counter). Intuitively it seems fairly accurate. I like when somebody makes me think. And via quick and easy methods. Thanks Gideon Rosenblatt

  3. Gideon Rosenblatt Thanks for putting together and especially for Interest Graph. Just to share I think you are spot on. Works similarly on twitter. The way I like to think about it is one tweets Interesting to me. Every once in a while it is also Interesting to You. Levels of interest can be seen as an RT and @ . On Twitter it’s a noisy signal since much of interest to me and RT happen because folks are either friends or want to build their brands… On G+ the cost of indicating Interest to me is a bit higher. It gets a cleaner signal.

    And your point about G+ being an environment that selects of active users is a good one. Goes to the emergence of thoughtfulness and real intent to get into the weeds as a normal process that is happening all over the web.

  4. What an excellent post and it does exactly what the images say Google+ was meant to be. This is how I see it. Facebook was meant to share among family and friends, Google+ goes beyond that to share with everyone else. Google+ basically has the best of both worlds (Facebook and Twitter) It connects you to everyone you know like Facebook (if they join of course) but it also connects you with everyone else like Twitter does. On top of that you are also connected to all your favorite Google products such as Gmail, Youtube, Docs and so much more.

  5. I think the danger here is not Google+ becoming Facebook, but Facebook becoming Google+, in a misguided attempt to be more like Twitter (and by proxy G+), and to attempt to further monetize.

  6. Gideon Rosenblatt Excellent! This tells just what it’s all about. You forgot one thing, though: Having just pure unadulterated fun in engaging with like minded people! 🙂 -> Hangouts… Discussion threads…

  7. Incredible visual that takes explains the difference between “social graph” and “interest graph”. Much appreciated Gideon Rosenblatt

  8. Marian Murdoch Well, you have only one public post visible… To get engagement one should engage more. People don’t circle you if you haven’t got good content to show, I guess.

  9. Simply said. Good job. This is the reason I am on FB AND G+. Twitter still moves too fast for me. I have gone back and tried and tried again to find out how Twitter can enhance my life. Oh well…

  10. Google+ is better for a person like me, who is vastly curious. I information that I might be interested, not just from friends, organizations and companies that I already like. It says, “Hey, enough people were interested or thought that this was cool enough, that we thought you might like to know about it.” I have seen so many things that in the vast deluge of information that is the internet, I might have missed, because Google+ say “take a look.”

  11. Nikhi, you may have missed the point. It is NOT just like FB. If you try to put too much information on FB your friends get upset or ignore you. They still want fun, family and friends, social, interactive stuff posted. G+ is more of a shared information network, as the presentation shows.

  12. Jacob Dix Gideon Rosenblatt Louis Gray Thomas Morffew agree best set of slides so far on G+ definition helps hugely and will attract wider debate provided the sharing (ripples) spread and they should. Nice work Gideon. Respect. Tx

  13. if only it was true Gideon Rosenblatt We have been discussing it and although it´s a nice presentation and loads of people clearly like pictures even if they have words on them, we are not done yet. I second Alexander Becker and Daniel Love. I am a skilled reader so I don´t like pictures, but others love them. No problem there, but with G+ not being something so easily defined as we are discussing in https://plus.google.com/u/0/112964117318166648677/posts/Gfjgt7kCKVt

  14. Impressive presentation. Unfortunately, I was losing interest by half way through, then Slide 21 came along and piqued my interest. Very clever, having such a controversial topic to reinvigorate the reader.

  15. The thing is, Google – as usual – has come at it from a programmer’s perspective (e.g., what they’d LIKE to have happen), rather than how people actually behave. Remember that story about the university that built a new quad? The waited to pave the sidewalks until the worn paths through the grass showed where people actually walked.

  16. Kendrick Mitchell it is a new tool that is destined to be one of the main tools. Search and curate for consumers is their model whether be through a information network or social network , or both.

  17. NAILED. IT. Gideon Rosenblatt – anyone who doesn’t understand how powerfully the connection between Google+ and Google products is for creating new Super Giants of personal influence hasn’t seen what you and I have been seeing.

  18. google + is not just googles answer to face book

    but it is the result of a,well signatured group’s,wish to establish their field of service

    yes it has certain similarities and again yes +is really a demon in the dreams of facebookand and a strong opponent but its not an easy task for+, but some thing which facebook lacked is safe with +, it is the trust which google have earned through years …………………..lets see whose going to win the final war…………at that instant todays little battles are worthless

  19. Gideon Rosenblatt Fresh approach to posting styles – very cool & well put together. You’ve obviously put a great deal of work into it. I’m still testing out in G+ where the lines are drawn for content creators. My gut feeling is that short content in general is the way to go on G+ for creators.. everything else needs to be external (meaning G+ is just a teaser channel). Heres one to ponder — Do you reckon G+ could promote up from being a shared interest graph to a full-fledged learning network?

  20. I won’t use Picasaweb until they introduce nested folders.I create a new folder each year for my photos & often have folders within that. Have tried Picasaweb but not being able to drill down annoys me too much.

  21. I can see this as part of google+ but not all of what it is about.. I am not posting to curate or to write. Google+ is more like a thought engine. The thoughts are written an curated an then you have interest. Google gains more from the users thought than from writings an curating the end post.. Knowing the next move or thought of a user is more important than who writes or who curate. I have a job curating post so.. But knowing what my next post is, now that what google makes it money from..

    It is a great post but I feel only part of what google+ is.. I am going with a thought engine.

    I also think google+ is far from done. But discussion is good for g+.

  22. I am fairly new to Google +. I am not impressed at all. It is not a networking site or about information it really seams to be just a stream of everyone’s opinions on things. Like so many of Google’s products it seems poorly planned and executed. The interface is clunky and awkward in an effort to try to make it user friendly it ends up being incoherent. Facebook is really much better put together and that is setting the bar extremely low.

  23. Beautiful, Gideon Rosenblatt. But let me dare respond to Max Huijgen’s comment above. There are many shortcomings in G+. The fact that I can’t reply directly to your comment is just the first. If I understand your objection, it is that G+ is still dwarfed by Facebook. Indeed it is. But Gideon’s slides are not about how big the community is, but what kind of community each is. Gideon wasn’t trying to compile a critique of the deficiencies of G+, but offer a simple explanation of what it is to those who haven’t tried G+ yet, or to those who have tried it but given up on it because they didn’t find traffic with their friends. I think Gideon would agree that these slides barely skim the surface. But that’s what an introduction is. It just so happens that Gideon’s introduction is so perceptive that it brings clarity even to power users who engage several hours a day on G+, instructing us how we might engage with one another more effectively on G+, which is a remarkable and well-lauded achievement.

  24. I really like the way you put these social networks in perspective. To me, G+ is a place where I follow topics of interest. For exemple, I love G+ and for that reason I follow people that have this same interest. This is how I ended up looking at these slides. Someone that I follow, even many people that I follow, shared this post. So it caught my attention and I looked at it.

    I see G+ as a way to find the interesting stuff amongst the ocean of content that is the Internet.

    I also love hangouts. When used in a certain way, it’s a great way to vocalise opinions and debate with people from around the world. That is a powerful tool!

  25. Thank you for putting the work in to assemble this. It is as interesting and as concise a picture of what G+ is … and where online social interaction is heading… as I have seen.

  26. Jonathan Taylor sorry I am amazed at your comment. I find Facebook a nightmare to use and G+ a doddle (easy) to use. One is mechanical the other intuitive. Is this a state of mind or a real UI difference?

  27. I would love to see a live hangout broadcast or recording going through every one of these slides. That would be very nice to show my friends on facebook why Google+ is so worth it.

  28. I’m not sure he did nail this though. It’s a question of definition. If you define something by its function, and I come up with a different function for it, am I then an exception to the rule? Is facebook a social network when it is used to coordinate a revolt, rather than “socialize”? I’m just not sure this piece is accurate. I think there are as many uses are there are users, though many many users fall into one and the same category of usage.

  29. Gideon Rosenblatt : now look at the ripples. It shows the importance of tagging someone as I did in my reshare of your post by mentionning/quoting Guy Kawasaki in my comment.

  30. One thing I think people need to remember, always, is that these social networks are not here necessarily for us. I mean, they want us to be happy, and enjoy our stay here, and like their products, etc., but for one reason and one reason only, so we will spend $$$$$, somehow, somewhere. The only reason G+ has not started advertising is because they do it on their search engine. If Google+ didn’t have another way for revenue, they would be monetizing it just like FB. That said, it is why I like G+. It is here secondarily, or tertiary for advertising. FB is their primarily for advertising.

  31. Jared Stander – you raise an important point about people producing more and more content here on Google+, so that it’s not simply an information networking or curation engine. Many, like Jeff Sayre are deliberately scaling back their efforts on their blogs in order to scale up their focus here on G+. Tried to acknowledge that on slide 31, but in order to simplify and make a point, sometimes you need to focus. I still would argue pretty strongly that though people are using G+ to produce and consume, the real reason did it, from a competitive perspective, was to have a platform for people to curate. That’s what was scaring them most about Facebook (and Twitter).

  32. Great Point, Gideon. I also see G+ as a great platform for community building, aggregating on a shared interest or value, sharing and curating content, brain-storming and crowd-creating through enhanced hangouts, self organising and activating progressively. Social, cultural movements, grassroots movements, the directions seem potentially infinite.

  33. I was hoping for something I could share with friends on Facebook; instead I got drowned in jargon which I could probably decipher if I took the time but would bore the average FBer silly. Oh well. Different audience I guess.

  34. Hamid Marc Afsharieh – it’s a great question re: what might have happened had Facebook simply opened its social graph to Google. It might have simply commoditized the FB service (which is what they assumed) or it might have weakened Google in the long run by building a dependency. I could see it going either way. I’m not close enough to what was going on between the two to comment intelligently on the question. Others?

  35. Gideon Rosenblatt

    It’s an important question because it helps us understand where Google and G+ is going.

    Facebook has commandeered people’s time online. They’re spending all their time on FB, and therefore creating content and filtering it through their own eyes.

    You mentioned FB was worried about being commoditized. Maybe. I think FB thinks that the analysis of FB interactions with products/contents/brands/friends is its treasure and didn’t want Google to come in and out-algorithmize (not a word i know) them for analysis. Their thinking: “our” content should not be used by Google to personalize advertising on Google.com.

    However, I think FB has one thing fundamentally wrong. It believes that interactions and content from its users on FB is theirs, not the users’. Our photos are not theirs, they’re ours. By thinking that way, it goes against the modo of the scattered internet. This I believe will lead to their downfall.

    Why? I’m personally seeing trends that social is de-centralizing, it seems to be going distributed & specialized w/ services like pinterest, path, tumblr and even reddit, chime-in, quora, etc… FB or G+ cannot hope to have all our social answers. They can no longer hope to be the one stop shop. For now, pinterest and others have tagged along with facebook logins and API plug-ins, but i don’t believe that’s a long term strategy because it makes those services submissive to Zuck & Co.

    I think Google would have preferred to be a social aggregator, than than have its own service to collect the information it needs for tomorrow’s search. But alas, FB did not open and forced Google’s hand, and G+ as a result is improving every aspect of Google’s services. Thanks Facebook!

  36. A meritocracy is exactly where it is going, totally agree. Klout is doing that as well.

    Btw, for Google’s search to stay relevant, it actually needs FB to become irrelevant, or it needs to grow G+ enough that a 2 way partnership with FB to share info with is achieved. Google search cannot stay relevant in 3-5 years with a dominant FB.

  37. I love Facebook, but in comparison it’s like a toy in comparison to G+. My only fear is that G+ will be getting so much of our information and have incredible integration capabilities with Gmail, youtube, etc. and the company will know SO much about me (e.g.- how many friends I have, when I use the PC, info I care about, etc). It’s sort of terrifying to have one company have so much power over my personal info, thoughts, beliefs, etc. It’s a direct marketing persons dream come true so in theory this should all be for the higher good… but I don’t know.

  38. CJ Liu isn’t that the point though we give up ALL our data so they can target ads at us so we can have a FREE service and not pay a subscription. One day Government will work like this too. Ads for Tax it will be called.

  39. Fascinating, thanks for sharing the slides. I can see how useful and how powerful this will be. Can’t say I always log in to google when I search – I like to retain a little mystery about me in each domain. As to a government that knows everything about me and advertises to me what it thinks I need – pass me a glass of soma please.

  40. People often ask me if I prefer G+ to FB and I always reply them that I use them differently. I use FB to stay connected to my friends and I use G+ to browse the web and explore my interests

  41. Great presentation. Off course, things would have evolved faster if Google just would have made a deal with Twitter and Facebook. If these 2 networks granted full access to Google, the “shared interest graph” would have happened much sooner.

  42. Lovely piece of work! Gideon Rosenblatt It is going to be fascinating as the production (or creation) element finally has a streamlined method of knowing their are keen, smart and connected curators within a platform. I am a newbie but can see the potential…

  43. very nice – my only suggestion would be to call it a shared interest network instead of a shared interest graph, as many people won’t understand the latter

  44. This explains why Google+ is important better than anything I’ve seen! I just shared the Slideshare version with some of my off-Google+ networks.

  45. Sharing my interests with those who share my interests. That’s awesome. My tagline has always been similar to that idea. “Google+, because bookmarking is selfish”

  46. Gideon Rosenblatt Very good point’,Gideon. It would be impossible for ann update to have this longevity on Facebook. You first posted this in March. 9 months later and there’s still discussion. Quality platform attracts quality content 😉

  47. Thx Mumma Bear for alerting me to this post.

    Thx Gideon Rosenblatt for taking the time to analyze this topic and write about it.

    (I know it’s been a long time since the original post, but the commentary is great and up to date!)

  48. Thanks Ray Hiltz and Jack C Crawford. It’s so clear that this community wants to make this network as powerful as possible because they see the real potential here to bring people and ideas together. 

  49. Interesting. This was a good post in May and it’s still relevant and on point today. Good job Gideon Rosenblatt It’s pretty tough to make “timeless” social media posts 🙂

  50. Somehow missed this comment, martin shervington. Thank you so much – that’s a high compliment. Funny to see much of this stuff now emerging in the latest update. 

  51. Thanks again Gideon Rosenblatt for these slides, they are still the best summary what g+ is and how it works 

    shared already month ago on g+, but  now i will post this to my FB “Friends” hope the change there opionion about G+

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