Having been over at Google+ since July (and been very active there), I feel that whilst Multiply is a little better for maintaining closer friendships, G+ is so much better for actually meeting new people and making those initial connections which can result in a close friendship.
Google+ is very much what you make of it, it’s up to each person to choose the way that works best for them – you can choose to follow all sorts of tech gurus or writing gurus or cookery gurus or whatever, you can choose to follow pages that provide news on specific subjects you’re interested in, you can choose to follow people who just seem interesting/fun/friendly, you can choose to engage with others or to just quietly read stuff, you can choose how many people you want to try and engage with (we each have different levels that suit us), you can choose what sort of stuff you’re going to post there and what level of privacy you set each post to (just like here)… but unlike here, you have amazing opportunities to (a) get exposure for your own posts if you want that and if you post publicly (b) find interesting people to engage with – and by “interesting” I mean whatever kind of person you personally find interesting. I have consistently ignored the “what’s hot” section, because I’m really not interested in whatever the masses are clicking on, I’m interested in finding people who are interesting to me, and I have – and have been building relationships with some of them. Yes, it’s perfectly possible and yes, I get plenty of deep conversations there – otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed. For me, frivolity is important but depth is essential, without deep conversations I just kind of shrivel…
Yes, there are some things on Multiply that make deep conversations easier, in terms of the technology. The ability to quote a comment, for example, so you can easily show who you are responding to. (And threaded comment view, for those who like that – I don’t.) But G+ is still new and being worked on, and from a recent conversation there I get the feeling they’re going to work on some kind of threaded comments feature, they’ve seen how it gets in long discussions.
The thing is, here I can come over and post something just to my friends and we can end up having a good chat – but other times I can come over and post something and get no response from anyone. And getting to know new people here is not easy – it’s either through groups, so if there’s a subject you’re interested in you can join one and hope to meet people who are also into whatever-it-is; or you can meet people through mutual friends. I think most of the people on my contact list here are people I met in groups – but joining a group is a very purposeful, focused kind of way. On G+ I don’t have to go through that, I just post stuff and it’s immediately available to a huge audience, so the chances are that someone somewhere will be interested (and now they have an internal search box and even hashtags, it’s really easy to find posts of interest to you); I read posts that interest me and comment and discover people who are on a similar wavelength. And doing that sort of thing here is just so much more complicated – it’s not what Multiply is geared for.
One of the people who is now on my contacts list here is someone I had met in groups here but only started to really connect with over on Google Plus! Because here, you have to invite someone to be your contact, and in doing that you are inviting them into your personal space, and also asking them to let you into their personal space, it’s a lot more of an issue – whereas when we found we were both on G+, there was no risk or cost to adding one another there, all it meant was that she was going to see my posts in her stream and I was going to see her posts in mine. (Because of the way the Circles there work, you can easily keep private info private even from some of the people you add.) And so we found ourselves getting to know each other, and at some point decided to become contacts here. It’s like G+ is a sort of massive club where you can hang out and meet people, and then the ones you get closer to, you can invite them home to Multiply. but they might not like Multiply – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s not really necessary in order to maintain a friendship. All the necessary privacy options are available on G+, you can make a post private just for two people or just for ten or just for 300 or whatever.
One of the features that makes it really easy to build connections there is the ability to tag someone in a post or a comment – it’s a way of inviting them into the conversation. So for example there’s someone I recently met there who seemed to be struggling a bit with the feeling of being new there and not knowing many people yet, and I noticed a post of hers about a subject that I know Meg is interested in, so I just commented saying something like: my friend Meg is into this – but using the tagging feature meant that Meg’s name became a live link so this girl could check Meg’s profile out if she wanted to, and it also meant that Meg got notified and could come over to that post and reply, and they could get to know each other. (Obviously she was under no obligation to do so, but I kind of thought Meg would.)
Another thing that makes it easy to get to know more people there is the reshare feature – under each post there’s a Share button and you can really easily pass it on within Google Plus (subject to the post’s privacy settings, of course), so you can introduce interesting people to other people. If someone you follow reshares a post by Joe Bloggs and you find that post particularly insightful, or well-written, or whatever, you can click on Joe Bloggs’s name and go check out his profile. I’ve discovered lots people that way. Or I see someone making a really good comment on someone else’s post, so I go check them out. The whole atmosphere is very conducive to interacting with people you don’t know yet (which is really what a stranger is) and so you can get to know new people – but at the same time, there are good privacy settings so that if you want to have a more private conversation, you can.
And, you know, when I post stuff there, I get reactions. That’s why I keep posting stuff there – because I actually have an audience, whereas here it can sometimes feel kind of echoey. Multiply is nice (very nice) for the times when all I want is a quiet chat with some friends over tea and biscuits – if those friends turn up. On G+ I’m getting to know more people with whom I feel like having tea and biscuits. I’d love to be able to drag them all here… but, you see, it takes time to get to that level where you’re ready to let someone into your private space, and on Multiply there’s not much of that in-between space. On G+ it’s much more grainy/granulated/what’s the word I’m looking for – you add someone as a one-way thing and it’s not even an “I want to get to know you”, it’s just an “I want to read your public posts” or “I want to share some private posts with you” (or “I want to spam you” – that also happens, but there is a block feature). And if that person adds you back and you communicate with each other over time and start building a personal connection, you don’t have to make it official in any way, the other person doesn’t know which circle you’ve put them in, so they don’t know if you’ve advanced them from “strangers that seem interesting” to “people I click with”. Which makes it a lot less awkward.
so, yes, I think G+ is pretty brilliant.
p.s. I haven’t been posting much publicly here but I’m making this post public, as a kind of public service announcement. But then, how many people are likely to see it even then? How much exposure is there here for posts by people you don’t already know? See what I mean?