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BW Businessworld

Of Passion And Sharing

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I must confess to harboring much Google Plus guilt. I have been impressed with the underlying concepts of this social network — or whatever Google likes to call it nowadays — but have actually found an additional "big network" too much to handle, despite the fact that I can see that people adding me to their circles share my interests. I know it would be worth my while, but it feels like the effort involved is too much. Like homework.

Though I would welcome something that would make Google+ easier and quicker to dive into, I was not actively looking for What The Plus! by tech guru and fomer chief evangelist of Apple Guy Kawasaki. It was only after listening to him talk online about how and why he wrote the book that I decided I wanted to check it out. That, and the fact that the book costs a mere $2.99 and would take one click to get from Amazon to my Kindle-on-iPad.

This is a self-published e-book — as is appropriate, I think, and there are many facts about this process that are also interesting. Such as how Kawasaki crowdsourced the editing by sending the manuscript to 240 of his Google+ contacts, getting back a properly edited copy and many ideas. Five thousand copies of the book were also given away and rather than cannibalising sales, this only increased them.

The book is both an impassioned job of evangelising of Google Plus, and a comprehensive how-to for anyone who wants to get going with the network. Any wonder one reader described it as the book Google should have written. In fact, you would be forgiven for wondering if Google got him to write the book, but, in fact, it is sponsored by Samsung).
That said, equally, it is a book about the principles of all social networking. Although the chapters, on the face of it, are about the mechanics of signing in, getting your Circles populated, working with streams, making your profile, etc, each instruction also takes up the social fundamental that makes for good, useful, productive social networking.
Kawasaki's style is completely straightforward and simple. And funny, wherever he can get in with a joke, because he is mostly a person who seems to find many things humorous. So the way he writes — minus a lot of social media jargon — is especially helpful for those who are just getting started. Even if you are not though, skimming through the book will refresh social basics as well defrost Google Plus working details.

Kawasaki claims that he "fell in love" with Google Plus, which is why he finds it both sad and offensive when people refer to it as a "ghost town" where nothing happens. He explains that Google Plus is really not just another network but a very different network from Facebook and Twitter. Facebook, he believes, is about people. It is where you keep up with what your friends and family are doing. Twitter is about news. It is where you get to know that there's been an earthquake in Chile. Google Plus, on the other hand, is about passions. The focus is on the shared interest, he believes, and so the Circles really help to categorise people to make it easier to engage and enchant.

The book does not seem to have a business orientation at all. Who is it for? Anyone with three bucks, says Kawasaki. But he also says that the same concepts that apply to people apply to brands. On social media, brands should behave like people, he says. Most of the chapters of his book are consequently about how to position yourself, how to find content to share, how to go about sharing it and how to comment on others' content.

I particularly liked his chapter on how to build trustworthiness (again, applicable to all social media) and Kawasaki makes several interesting points, among them being the fact that there is no point just acting like you should be trusted. "Don't get the impression that trustworthiness is simply projecting trustworthiness. That would be putting lipstick on a pig—it's still a pig underneath."

Also very useful is the chapter on how to comment and "+1" and share so that you add value to your contacts and the network rather than adding to noise. There is also great advice on what to avoid, such as gathering posts that all reflect the same perspective.

Other Google Plus aspects — such as Hangouts and effective photo-sharing and so on — are also covered in simple, natural language and peppered with examples from Kawasaki's own experience. There are also zoomable pictures and links to explore, making up a package that is more than worth the mere three dollars.

And did I mention, it's fun to read?

Author's Details:
Guy Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop, an online aggregator of popular technology news, and a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. Formerly chief evangelist of Apple,Kawasaki is the author of 10 books including Enchantment, Reality Check and The Art Of The Start.

[email protected], @malabhargava on Twitter

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 09-04-2012)