Early this summer I was honored to be invited to speak at MozCon. (You can find the video’s of all of the presenters for purchase if you’re interested – definitely some amazingcontent in there. Not sure how I got included but I was definitely humbled by my company.) At the end of my presentation someone asked me my thoughts on Google + and I gave my standard answer: It’s a third sock. People chuckled then I explained myself a bit. Then I quickly jumped off stage before anyone realized I should’nt have been up there to begin with and checked Twitter to see how badly I made a fool of myself. I’ll spare you the round-up except to say that the “third sock” comment really resonated with some folks. This got me thinking. My incredibly silly personal observation deserved to be fleshed out just a bit more.Google Plus is a third sock

What is this “Third Sock”?

There is a time and a place for everything. Google + (or is it Google Plus…how are we supposed to “write” this?) is quite new so it’s too early to carve anything in stone. But that’s kind of the point right? It’s early. There are a lot of reasons to get yourself onto G+ (is that okay?) and even some to get your business involved.

I actually have a post coming up in Search Engine People arguing that small business owners should wait just a wee bit – depending of course what their demo and product market is – otherwise they risk “killing” their business. Dramatic? Yes. But that’s the point. More on that over at SEP when the time is right. (I will update with a link after it goes live.) I could make a great case right now for why organizations (especially you blue chip guys) should be at least experimenting on Google +. But this is NOT THE TIME FOR THAT. Okay. I’m done yelling.

What I really want to talk about is Google + from a user stand point. I am an admitted social media addict. I am one of “those” people. I check Twitter, Facebook and even e-mail most days before I even get out of bed. And then let’s be real – once I’m actually vertical I have to see what’s going on in the Instagram world and check out what’s been posted on Pinterest and Tumblr, etc, yada and so forth. Each one of these serves a purpose in my life and adds a specific value to my experience online with people I know.

Facebook: Where I keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues (albeit on a more personal level.)

Twitter: Where I keep up to date on happenings from our industry, keep up on breaking news, chat with friends, and sometimes even do some business.

LinkedIn: Although it’s not part of my morning routine, it’s my professional rolodex. It’s where I can keep tabs on professional contacts more officially (since let’s be real – these days I’m following them on Twitter and many are friends on Facebook).

Instagram: Let’s me share pictures easily and creatively.

Pinterst: First of all – it’s amazing. And addictive. Second it’s a great discovery engine and a creative outlet.

Tumblr: fast, quick and easy sharing/blogging.

E-mail: Necessity for work, and where else would I get my Fab.com, Foundary and LivingSocial bargains all in one place?

My point in outlining each of those is only that I feel like my online needs are being met. I don’t feel like there are any gaps that aren’t being taken care of. There are niche sites that I didn’t even mention that fill in some random holes. Fitocracy is a great example of a niche site that I use. But again…got it. Covered. Thanks.

What I DON’T need is a ‘clone’ of any of these. I don’t need another LinkedIn. I don’t need another Facebook. I have one of those already. Just like I don’t need a third sock. I only have two feet yo – what am I going to do with the third sock? (Get your mind out of the gutter people. Seriously.) From a user perspective it just isn’t fulfilling a need or closing a gap. Yes, I totally admit there are some things/features in Google + that are great that Facebook for example does not have. But what Facebook has and will continue to have that will keep me, and many other people there, is my mom. My brother. And my aunt. And my cousins, and my previous coworkers, and my old classmates, and my IRL friends – ETC. Some people will joke that those are precisely the reasons they want to leave Facebook. But in all seriousness – these are the reasons that we, as users, are involved in social. Those relationships.

Now – from an online marketer’s perspective it’s a whole different ball game. If you can’t see how Google + is going to (assuming it gains user traction) play into SEO then there’s really just no help for you :P . More on that in a different post perhaps. If you’re interested now then I highly suggest taking a look RWW’s post on How Will Google + Affect SEO, or get involved in the community discussion on SEOmoz. Moz also has some really great stuff on G+ (I highly recommend reading the post in using the Ripples to find influencers. Exciting stuff for marketing geeks!!)