We are all content hustlers

It’s ironic Google+ allowed the digital elites such as Chris Brogan early access to Google+ while asking corporations to hold off creating brand profiles. Just about everyone I know on Google+ (including me) uses the social platform to hustle their own content as well as any corporation could.

We are all content hustlers now. In fact, it’s the proliferation of platforms like Google+ and check-in sites like GetGlue that continues to transform everyday consumers into marketers of our own content.

You check into GetGlue on a Friday night to watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and the next thing you know, someone responds to your check-in by asking for your opinion, and then you write a mini review in reply. In a matter of minutes, you become both moviegoer and amateur critic.

Case in point: yesterday morning, I needed to do some quick online research to find a business and its street address. I visited Google to do a simple search. Immediately I encountered a Google Doodle that cleverly honored Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday by playing snippets of I Love Lucy via the image of an old-style console TV. How cool! I just had to share the Google Doodle with my friends.

But sharing wasn’t enough: I needed to add my own opinion (my contribution to your content stream) about how the Google Doodle brilliantly synthesized utility and entertainment. Within minutes, I posted a CBS News article about the doodle, plus a brief comment on my Facebook, Global 14, and Google+ content streams. I also wrote the obligatory tweet.

And I wasn’t even working up a sweat – or tapping into the many other platforms I could have used to spread my content (however brief it was) across the digital world.

Within minutes, my mindset had changed from searcher of information to publisher. And then I did what any good content publisher does: checked my metrics. Did I get any retweets? Facebook Likes? +1s? Had I found a responsive audience for the content I was hustling?

A few take-aways:

  • A Google search became an exercise in content publishing. But I also forgot to complete my original Google search, ironically. The content publisher lurking inside me was competing with the simple reality of getting on with my life.
  • Although access to social media sites makes it easier for us to hustle content, not all the content we create is worth hustling. As guitarist Jack White said in the documentary It Might Get Loud, ease of use does not make us more creative.

Yes, we are all content hustlers. But just because we can does not mean we should. Fortunately we can block and manage content, too, by paring our friend lists and curating our information streams (e.g., with Google+ Circles), although doing so is not always as easy as it looks. I’ll let you judge whether I’m hustling content you care about.

Spammers, Baby Boomers, and Google+

Boy, do I feel like a digital slacker.

On June 28, Google invited me to a Field Trial of Google+ — and you better believe I interrupted a family vacation to get involved lest I miss out on all the fun.

But unlike Jay Baer and Chris Brogan, I’ve failed to contribute to the pithy Google+ commentary that has flooded the marketplace. (Reason: school’s out, which means more time with family, and less time for blogging.)

And at this point, I certainly am not going to write an opus on Google+ Instead I’ll ask a few somewhat annoying questions and provide comments smackng of personal whimsy:

  • Google+ is a boon for Baby Boomers like me. We like clean layouts, big pictures, and easy-to-read text. We are too tired of squinting to find content designed by people who fail to comprehend the fundamentals of an engaging user experience.
  • I love how you can add anyone to your Google+ Circle even if they don’t add you to theirs. I’ve always thought it disingenuous of Facebook to suggest friends to you and then ask, “Do you really know Mark?” when you follow through on Facebook’s suggestion. On Google+, I can pretend Mark Zuckerberg really is my friend even if he doesn’t add me to his Circle.
  • I am shamelessly promiscuous about adding people to my Circles. If Google thinks you can add value to my life by suggesting I add you to one of my Circles, I’m going to do so. I like the idea of having a river of ideas from all walks of life flowing through my Google+ stream. That said, as of July 27, I have 1,717 people in my Circles, and only 454 have added me. Does that make me a Google+ loser?
  • I don’t mind admitting that within 10 seconds of joining Google+, my first to-do was claiming my own vanity URL (gplus.to/davidjdeal).
  • If you have created more than six Google+ Circles to curate your interests, you have way too much time on your hands.
  • I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to become a member of the Circle for CEO Celebrity Hedge Fund (gender: male; in a relationship).
  • I am learning more about Google+ from all the third-party commentary resulting from the Google Field Trial than I am from Google itself – and I’ll bet Google likes it that way.
  • Google has a chance to differentiate itself from Facebook by providing more personal service  on Google+ — like actually responding to you when you encounter a problem (unlike Facebook, which treats its members like second-class citizens). But I have a feeling Google will also take the DYI approach to customer service with Google+.

Finally, a word of sincere counsel: I keep hearing about people leaving Facebook for Google+. You’re seriously going to leave behind 700 million people? Sorry, but if you want to be active in social, there is no either/or choice – you have to find time for both Facebook and Google+.