The Psychology of Connecting on Google+

 

Introduction.

YouTube and Google+(Part 3 of 3 ‘Psychology of Google+’ articles: Engaging, Relating and Connecting.)

Let’s begin with considering a phrase: a meeting of minds…

As we all know, it means to get along well with someone collaboratively. But sometimes we don’t think about the meaning of phrases that are embedded within our cultures.

Then there is the phrase “making the connection.”

This so often means linking two or more things that were previously not connected. In life, we also seek connections. This can be with people, memories, places and beyond.

First impressions and the psychology of connecting.

Imagine this: you are reading comments from familiar faces, and then, you come across someone new i.e. an “unfamiliar” name. Have you had this experience?
So often I find myself wanting to understand the intention behind a comment being made.

Does the person want to “play”?

Are their intentions [please insert Nineteenth Century London gentleman voice here]* honourable?

Are they looking to connect through engagement? And so on…

So, here is an illustration of how we build up context:

1. Hover over the name – this will give you an instant impression.
The image they use on their profile pic – when it is a “face” we will interpret their expression, for instance.
Someone smiling is more likely to be responded to positively as we have position associates with that; business attire, however, will give a professional impression; someone with empty pizza boxes having been strewn everywhere and in a state of undress, you start building a picture.

Then you click to see more…
2. Profile and images – images are a way to give “snapshots” of someone’s world, or more accurately on Google+, who they want to display themselves to be in the world. If there are no images, it is hard to make a first impression.

3. About me – what they say about themselves is illuminating. The way they use language can be interpreted as a reflection of their internal processing. Our thoughts create the words and the words are then displayed on the page, giving context to part of a person’s life.

4. What they have posted really matters – stating the obvious, but the content itself will give you information about them.
If they are just forwarding key people’s posts then they are probably “reaching out” towards them.
If they are writing their own posts but no-one is +1ing, sharing, commenting, then you know that people are not engaging with them
Or if they are writing good content, creating images, sending on jokes etc and all of this is being received well (i.e. being +1/commented upon/shared) it will give you another view of them.

5. Number of people circled (and them having circled) – this can give you an idea of where they are at with their Google+ journey. They could well have just joined Google+ and in this situation if they only have 20 people in their circles and 20 people circle them, then they are unlikely to understand the cultures into which they are entering. Or a profile showing a few people in their circles may just be a temporary account and you may consider the context when an articulate person is posting from this account. In other words, their intentions may or may not be honourable. But if you understand the situation, you then have more choices to your response.

Whatever first impressions we make will be down to our own psychology.
I notice the more information I can gather about the context of comments, the more likely it is that I will engage further with people.
Simple stuff but essential when building online relationships.

Next: connections then begin to form over time.

Let’s now take a quick look at Google+ from this perspective…

Every +1, every comment and every share says you are listening to varying degrees. This got me wondering…what is the psychological process going on here?

Here is a sketch…

1. Attention
To start with, your train of thought is interrupted and you pay attention to a person’s profile, comment etc. The attention you pay can then turn into an intention to connect further.

2. Contextualisation
As this is happening you are building up a picture of a person through your interactions with them. You know their name and the contexts around which you have been interacting. You are storing those memories (thoughts) with associated feelings attached to them. I am sure dopamine will be firing, serotonin spinning and all the other chemicals playing their role in the brain too.

3. Creation of a storyline through your dialogue
The more connections with someone, the more the thoughts/feelings/memories – you are creating a storyline through your interactions. So this means you no longer bound by the context but are building a relationship to them/with them.

4. Positive Reinforcement
The more exchanges/the more intense the exchange, the more memories; hence why it is easier to remember people’s names once you “know them” better. The more enjoyable the exchanges, the more positive the connection. This is how the brain lays down patterns of memory – through repeated actions of activity.

So, for people who are finding they are lacking engagement/connection/relationships on Google+, one has to ask: if you only +1 someone one how can you really expect to connect to them? As well as, questioning whether you can expect other people to be engaging on your content if you are not engaging in some way with them as well.

When you connect you will find you people are on your mind, or in your thoughts, that is a connection.

Conclusion.

When we ‘engage’ on Google+ through +1s, comments, shares, chat, hangouts etc, with people to whom we ‘relate’ we ‘connect’ further with them. When these connections are increasingly relaying messages in a positive and reaffirming nature, we will tend to enjoy the experience more and more. This is why the culture to which we create and all belong is so important. The concept of commoogling – creating an increasingly collaborative culture – is just one way of bringing people together and allows them to connect with people who also share the same values. This is when hanging out really ups the level of it all.
I look forward to engaging, relating and connecting with you on Google+ even more in the future!