commentary Google Australia held a photowalk over the weekend to help promote Google+ and while some may be sceptical of what a few photographers can do, it was actually a pretty smart move by the company to encourage people to populate its network with content.
Google Australia employees who joined the photowalk (Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)
A photowalk is a fairly simple yet fun idea on paper: get together with a group of photographers, take a walk while they take some pictures, and maybe enjoy some nibbles at the end.
As it turned out, keeping it simple did the trick: it was actually a pretty ingenious way for Google to raise the profile of its social networking site, which, for me at least, was a bit of a ghost town.
Leading up to the event, Google didn't do a huge amount of promotion. It popped up through Google+, which in turn spread out to Twitter and Facebook. But that also meant that most attendees would be those who already read and shared content and ultimately were responsible for it going viral: the early adopters and the technologically savvy.
Shortly after, attendees that registered had their profiles added to a circle and shared. This was the lock-in point that would cement Google+ as the platform around which people would gather. Why would you go to Flickr or Facebook to find people you already knew were on Google+ and organised already?
But who were these people? Aside from content sharers, they were content creators. Photographers that post often, and look at and comment on others' photographs. Best of all, most of them didn't know each other. So when the group of over 150 met each other in Hyde Park and began to create relationships, where were they going to go after that? To Facebook? To Twitter?
The majority would stay on Google+ because that's where their new-found friends were. That's where all the photos were. Whether they liked it or not, the content and their relationships would be, to borrow an idea from The Social Network, exclusive.
And what would they say? They would talk about the huge turnout, the Google+ camera straps, the two free t-shirts Google gave them and the first 60 that had their Google+ profile link on the back of them in the form of a QR code. They would post their photos, comment on others and talk about the next big photowalk they would hold, never mind the free food and beer that Google had provided. How many would tell their friends? How many friends would jump on to the network in order to attend the next event?
At this point, those 150 or so photographers have made a social investment, and they're probably finding they like it when their network actually has active people in it — I know I do now.
What was once a quiet and empty network has become filled with content and because of that, it's been getting harder and harder to stop checking with ever-increasing frequency. Before you know it, it becomes an addiction. And it started out so simply.