Guru Review: What the Plus! by Guy Kawasaki

Google+ is far behind Facebook when it comes to its number of users. So why is Guy Kawasaki raving about it?
Strategic Facilitation & Ideation,
March 16, 2012

It's been 25 years since Guy Kawasaki wrote a book about a product–that being The Macintosh Way in 1987. But after using Google's social media service Google+ for a few months, he felt the need to write another product-oriented book, this one called What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us. It's an e-book about what makes Google+ as special as Macintosh.

Guy Kawasaki needs no introduction–but in the off chance his name is not a household word for you, he's the original Apple evangelist, the author of a dozen or so best-selling books, and a featured expert here on OPEN Forum. (Disclosure: It was Guy who invited me to contribute to OPEN back in 2009.)

Guy is a raving fan of Google+. "My goals are to help you to derive as much joy and value from Google+ as I do," he writes.

Now, Guy is a social media force: well over half a million people follow him on Twitter, and he has nearly 100,000 fans on Facebook. He needs another social media service like a hole in the head. Yet he jumped on Google+ immediately when he figured out how to publicly share posts, and now spends two hours a day on Google+ because it’s enjoyable and good for his brand, or, as he states, "More truthfully, Google+ is so enjoyable that I rationalize that it’s good for my brand."

The interesting question is why Guy believes in Google+ when it's not even a distant object in the rearview mirror of Facebook, which boasts 800 million users. Guy gives us five solid reasons in What the Plus!:

  • Google has a good track record."Google has delivered better mousetraps when most people didn’t think better mousetraps were necessary," writes Guy. "For example, Yahoo!, Inktomi, and Alta Vista were good enough for searching, and Hotmail was good enough for e-mail."

  • Google is dead serious about this business."Insiders tell me Google+ is one of the top priorities of Google," Guys says. "It’s not an experiment or project buried within another business unit. The guy who runs Google+, Vic Gundotra, reports directly to Larry Page, the CEO of Google. Google+ is a core part of the functionality of all of Google, and it would be astoundingly embarrassing for Google+ to fail."

  • Google has infinite money and talent. According to Guy, "Infinite money and talent doesn’t mean an organization is infallible, as Webvan ($1.2 billion invested so people could order asparagus online), Lehman Brothers and Enron have proven. But infinite money and talent doesn’t guarantee you’ll fail, either. Google is assaulting two big companies on their established turfs, so money and talent are necessary in this battle."

  • Google owns the river. In Guy's words: "In ancient lore, one of the labors given to Hercules was to clean the huge Augean stables in a day. Hercules accomplished this herculean task by diverting the Alpheus and Peneus Rivers through the stables. Google owns one of the biggest rivers of Internet traffic (search), and it can divert people to Google+ anytime it wants. For example, when Google put an arrow on its search page pointing to the button to click to join Google+, hundreds of thousands of people joined."

  • Google owns the playing field. Guy believes that "Google can do more than merely tilt the playing field, because it owns the playing field. For example, Google integrated Google+ into search results, and Samsung phones and tablets come with the Google+ application pre-installed. Google bought Motorola’s phone business, so we can assume similar integration will happen with Motorola phones and tablets too. Gmail account holders automatically have a Google+ account. In the future, Chrome, Google’s browser which recently passed Firefox in popularity, will incorporate Google+ also."

  • "When you add up these factors," he concludes, "Google brings indomitable power to Google+—roughly equal, I’d say, to Apple having Steve Jobs as a CEO."You'll not only learn the key Google+ mechanics from What the Plus!, but also the best way to exploit and master those mechanics. Guy's key topics include these dozen: 

  • How to Get Started
  • How to Master Circles and Streams
  • How to Construct an Compelling Profile
  • How to Achieve Trustworthiness
  • How to Comment
  • How to Share Posts
  • How to Optimize for Social Search
  • How to Share Photos
  • How to Respond to Comments
  • How to Hang Out
  • How to Get More Followers
  • How to Deal with Bozos

Google+ isn't just about being social. Guy used it to crowdsource the editorial process for What the Plus! "Near the end of the writing process," he says, "I asked my closest 1.1 million friends on Google+ if they’d like to test this book. Approximately 240 people responded, and I sent the manuscript to them. Within a week, approximately 100 people provided their feedback. They found 147 typos and 27 factual errors as well as showed me 67 ways to improve the book."I can't think of a better way to part with $2.99 than buying What the Plus! for either Kindle or iBooks.You can circle Guy on Google+ here.

(I've taken Guy's advice, and am now on Google+ as well here.)