Google+ is shutting down and the timing might just be perfect for Steemit. As many users are aware the latest hardfork of the Steem blockchain (HF20), implemented several changes on Steemit and its associated decentralised applications (dapps).
A lot of the changes were back end changes which will go largely unnoticed by most users. However there were some frontend changes, with some being scheduled to happen in the coming months.
One of these changes is the ability to create Steem communities. In my mind this is going to be the largest change of Steemit since its inception in April 2016.
The Power Of Groups
Social networking groups have existed long before the days of the internet. To a person born after the age of global digital connectivity it might seem quaint that people used to physically meet in order to share a group interest.
Of course that still happens today, however it seems the meet up acts as an adjunct for the online community rather than its main focus.
Regardless of how technologically advanced we become, the human race will always need social groups. Why? Simply because we are a social animal. Whilst on some visceral level we may like to celebrate our individuality. The truth of the matter is, we engender a feeling of belonging by joining with others who share the same interests as ourselves.
The internet allowed us to form super hyper-connected groups, which led to the rise of the fringe groups. These were made up of people who shared an interest that was so rare, that forming a group would have been impossible without the internet. For instance men who like to dress in full length female rubber suits, or those who believe the earth is flat. Without internet groups, these people would just be individual, unconnected floating islands.
What's The Point?
Steemit has become part of this hyperconnected community web, however our little corner of the web needs some tidying up.
For example, at the moment if you are interested in cryptocurrency, homesteading, and bears. You can of course simply follow accounts that are also into those subjects and they will appear on your feed.
The problem is of course, that you want to follow other people that are outside of those interests. Or maybe one person you follow does a great article about bears, but then the rest of their content is totally unrelated.
Before long your feed simply reflects who you follow, rather than what you're truly interested in. With communities, you simply follow the interest and therefore are shielded from any content that is not relevant to your chosen subject.
Who Cares About Google+?
In 2015 someone called Eric Enge did a marketing audit of Google+. He found the “active profiles” on Google+ amount to 111 million users. Out of those 6.7 million users have 50 or more posts ever, and 3.5 million have 50 or more posts in the last 30 days.
Of course Enge's research did not, and could not extend to the millions of people who like me, are part of various Google+ communities and can be classified as read only.
The fact is Google is shutting down Plus because to them it is a huge failure. They have billions of users and only a tiny percent of them use Google+ services. It is easy to see the rationale behind freeing up valuable resources for a more used and more profitable part of the business.
However this still leaves millions of people who do value the service. Those people are going to be left without the communities they have grown to love and been a part of for a long time.
So even though millions of users represents a drop in the ocean for Google. However if even only a small percentage of those people migrate onto Steemit, it will be a huge thing for the site and will raise its profile far higher than it is today. So these people are worth going after, we just have to wait until the communities feature is active.
Where Are They Going?
So it is clear that even though we talk of the Google+ community as one entity, it is made up of many different sub groups, which in turn are made of individuals. This means that they will not act as one and all choose to migrate to the same platform. However all groups are moderated by a person or group of people. It is they who will be migrating all the content, thus the followers will, well, follow.
This morning I saw a post on G+ that inspired this article. The post was asking the members of one of the sci-fi groups that I'm a part of, where they felt they should go after next August when Google+ shuts down.
The group has just over 1400 members and the group moderator asked the question in the form of a poll, which you can see below.
I was just about to suggest that the mod add Steemit to the poll, when I read a reply to the post that stopped me dead in my tracks.
Pluspora is just a diaspora node, and diaspora does not currently support groups/communities.
This highlights the importance of a group feature, and of course reminded me that Steemit doesn't support communities yet, so I thought I'd sit tight.
At the end of the day more and more Google+ group moderators are going to have to face up to the very real fact that they need to migrate their communities to another platform.
It is up to us to make sure that once the Steemit communities feature is ready, we let as many of these mods know as possible.
Stylistically Steemit is very similar to Google+ so as far as UI (user interface) is concerned, I think the average Google user will be happy with our site.
So come on Steem devs, I know you're working hard behind the scenes, however I think you should use Google+ closing down as a natural deadline. Let's get it up and rolling before the August 2019 shutdown date so that we can hoover up some of those lovely G+ communities!
ARE YOU A GOOGLE+ USER? WHAT GROUPS ARE YOU A PART OF? WHAT FEATURES THAT YOU LIKE ON THERE, WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ON STEEMIT? OR PERHAPS YOU ARE A GROUP MEMBER ON A SIMILAR SITE? AS EVER, LET ME KNOW BELOW!
Title image: Perry Grone on Unsplash