Google Plus for Lawyers

Google Plus, a new social networking service operated by Google, has been out for less than a month.

What do we know?

  • It’s seen explosive growth with almost 20 Million users. To put that in perspective, it took television 13 years and the Internet four years to reach 50 million users. Facebook had 100 million users at nine months, a number Google Plus looks likely to reach.
  • One Billion items a day are already being shared on Google Plus. That already rivals Facebook numbers of a year ago.
  • Google has doubled down, if not tripled down on Google Plus. Google is a force of nature and when you throw this many good engineers and effort into something like Google Plus, it’s going somewhere. It’s possible Larry Page came back as CEO to drive initiatives such as this.

What are my first impressions?

  • Google Plus, unlike other Google social networking services ala Google Buzz, is going to be something. It’s here to stay and be it’s going to be used by a significant number of people.
  • Despite a clear goal to compete with Facebook, Facebook is unlikely to go the way of MySpace. Too many people and businesses are using Facebook, it’s advertising model is generating a boatload of money, Mark Zuckerberg is a very smart and driven guy, and social networking, unlike Google, is all Facebook does — they breath it day and night.
  • Google Plus, unlike Twitter and even Facebook, is very intuitive to use. 
    • Connecting with people is very easy.
    • Assigning people to circles (groups) you create is a snap making it easy to know what you are distributing to who. I am sure Facebook privacy settings are easy to use when you know where to look, but I have not figured them out yet.
    • Google Plus allows you to send items to one person or a group very easily. This is not as easy to do on Twitter or Facebook.
  • The people I see all over Google Plus today are early adopters, if not the bleeding edge. That’s not an all together bad group for you as a lawyer to network among. Lawyers are too fast to dismiss social networking solutions because not all their clients are there. It doesn’t matter. If you know what you are doing in using social media, you know that connecting and building relationships with the influencers and amplifiers (this group of early adopters). This group may be more important than networking with clients/prospective clients/referral sources. Think PR and the media. Though there is a heavy population of Tech/Media/Mar-com people now on Google Plus, you can expect early adopters in every vertical and profession to be on Google Plus very soon, if they are not already.
  • The fastest growing group of users on Facebook is over 55. Think pictures of grandkids. The Google Plus toolbar is going to display at the top of the browser window when anyone is using Google. I expect this to attract an older population to Google Plus over time, the population with the greatest wealth in the country and prime people to network with for lawyers.
  • You don’t stop using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and start using Google Plus because it’s the new and greatest.
    • Social networking services, over time, have a way of serving different needs for people. I don’t see competition as a zero-sum game.
    • The people you want to connect with to build relationships will be spread across various social networking services. You need not use them all. But getting conversant with them is going to help you get out and build and nurture relationships where the people are.
  • Google Plus generates lots of interaction and discussion, more so than possibly Twitter and Facebook. Look at this blog post of mine. Two comments on my blog. 10 comments on Google Plus. You want to be part of a dialogue with influencers and amplifiers, better still if it was your original insight  (blog post) that initiated this dialogue. Not only doesn’t it matter if the dialogue is some place other than your blog comments (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, now Google Plus), but it’s better if the dialogue is someplace other than your blog. More people see the dialogue and have the opportunity to join in. Plus you are seen as someone who ‘comes out’ and joins the discussion, not someone who says, “Look at me and my blog, come here as I measure my success and worth by traffic to my blog and, in turn, my website.”
  • Your Google Profile that accompanies your Google Plus is going to start showing up when people search your name. That’s going to be especially true if you use Google Plus now and again. A well thought out and complete Google Profile page will set you apart from other lawyers.

Though Google Plus is still in its infancy, I suggest you try it out. Google Plus is here to stay and some of the people you’ll want to network with as a lawyer are going to be using Google Plus.

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  • I agree with most of this but disagree that social networking sites are a zero sum game. Something has to give. For me, Twitter seems the most affected by the google plus. Twitter has some things going for it but think it has the most to lose, not Facebook.

  • Great job, Kevin! One of the better overviews I’ve seen. Seems like organizing Circles from the start will result in a more meaningful engagement of the product. I’m going it slow on this one.

  • Thanks for the comment Dan. Twitter has taken a hit in traffic since Google Plus launched. But the two feel markedly different to me. Google+ is like FriendFeed, a discussion thread, where Twitter is like an AP feed coming from trusted sources.

  • The most natural early adopters are google apps users (like me). However, neither google+ nor google profiles is available to google apps users.
    Yes, they are available if you sign out of your google apps account and into your personal google account, but that’s not likely to happen with any regularity.
    I look forward to google+ coming to google apps, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • shg

    I just checked my Facebook, LinkedIn, Blawg, Twitter and Google+ status. I was supposed to go out today and do something really fun, but I ran out of time.
    It’s like painting the Verazano bridge, once you finish at one end, it’s time to go back to the other and start over. I wouldn’t want to miss any really cool networking opportunities.

  • You’re missing the point Scott. No one is telling anyone they need to hang out at all these places. They are an opportunity for those people who choose some of them. As I shared last week, my general counsel gets his best work from referrals from his hunting buddies. He’s not going to try half this stuff, if he ever tries it all. That’s fine.
    Some lawyers, even every good lawyers, will choose to social media for business development. For those lawyers I can go goof around in the social media sandbox and share what I see and share what I think may be worthwhile. Many lawyers appreciate what I am doing.
    Believe it or not, I got up watched CBS Sunday Morning, went running, came home talked to a good friend on the phone for a while, I’m going to do a little work for an hour or so, then read the NY Times, go golfing with the boys, and then, god willing, grill some salmon. ;)

  • George

    “Facebook had 100 million users at nine months, a number Google Plus looks likely to reach.”
    Wrong. Facebook had 1 million users in Dec. 2004. It reached 20 mill in April 2007. (G+ did in three weeks.) Finally in Aug. 2008, FB reached 100 million users.

  • Facebook has a good rival now. I hope Google + will be a good social network. But I afraid about the domination of Google. They will control all advertising industry :(.

  • Drew

    To add to stephensc’s comment, I am reminded of the scene in “Demolition Man” and see that eventualy one social network will eventually rule them all. To paraphrase Ms. Bullock “Now all social networks are Google”

  • Rob Robinson

    Excellent insight at the cutting edge of communications. Thanks Kevin.

  • Jonelle Vold

    Hi Kevin,
    I am presenting a CLE for the Maricopa County Bar (AZ). I am speaking on social media and want to include information on Google+. May i include your blog (properly identified of course) in my CLE packet?
    Thank you,
    Jonelle Vold

  • Kevin,
    I am jumping on the Google+ “bandwagon.” I can see myself using it much more than my Twitter account.