(Part 2 of 3 ‘Psychology of Google+’ articles: Engaging, Relating and Connecting.)

What does it mean to “relate” to someone or something on Google+ and how can we do it even better?

So, what is the meaning of relate:

v. re·lat·ed, re·lat·ing, re·lates

1. To narrate or tell
2. To bring into or link in logical or natural association
3. To establish or demonstrate a connection between things

Why do we want to “relate” on Google+?

Generally, we like people who are like us and like us.
It is through ‘relating’ that we build relationships; people “relate” to us and that gets us their attention.
It is a human need to feel connected to people that understand us as well.
So, on Google+ we seek people and subjects around which we can relate.

A bit of psychology….

Relating is so often an emotional response. So, for instance, whenever a person sees another person’s name appear on Google+, they will have a thought emerge at the same time with an emotion attached.

These thoughts will build up into ‘bundles’ or strings of thoughts, that start to form the foundations of the relationships i.e. the internal representation of them in someone’s mind.

Looking at some examples…

  1. When the emotion is positive, there will be attraction towards a next step e.g. a +1, comment, share etc.
  2. When we ‘don’t relate’ but in it is just in a neutral fashion, it just means that the energy/emotion around a subject is not one of ‘chord’ so doesn’t pull a person toward action.
  3. When a person, instead of having the neutral stance above, has a negative stance, it becomes a situation of ‘dischord’. he person may then be pulled towards an action e.g. uncircling someone/making a negative comment etc. when they really experience this arise in mind.

In other words, the movement in mind will be one of attraction, indifference or aversion dependent upon the situation.

How do we relate on Google+?

A. We create and curate content in a way that tests and “feeds back” whether people related to what we posted

B. We tailor our messages to “speak” to certain people i.e. the intended audience i.e. we create ‘relatable content’

C. We create circles to help our message be sent to the people who will relate best of all

D. We engage using the +1s, comments, shares, Gmail, Gchat, Ghangouts etc. in order to gain better understanding and to be, in turn, better understood. These are ways of finding people to whom we relate, and vice versa. This is how connections are then formed.

How can people, brands and companies use/understand Google+ even better?

1. The better we understand people, the better we can relate to them. Same with brands as well.
And remember what +Vic Gundotra said when chatting with +Guy Kawasaki ( …what if we understood individuals?

The same will apply for us using the Google+ platform as well and also for those looking to relate to us, instead of us just “following” them.

2. Circles. Both individuals and brands may still be lerning the value of creating “circles” on Google+ e.g. people simply “following” a brand on Google+ is just one way to begin engagement, it can deepen when the person/brand adds you to a circle…

3. Circles contain REAL people (ok, and Pages as well), so just as with people, brands/companies could start looking at a personal relationship with each of them. Several circles can be created and, if relevant, they can include themselves in a circle.

4. Interest groups. It may be that circles are interest groups e.g. health, when a company is working within that industry; or geographical locations etc. But people may need to think laterally in order to really build relationships that turn into business. For instance, you would never create a circle saying ‘People who need marketing consultancy, or therapy, or even their car valeting’! But you may create circles of people or businesses that exist in a certain area and build relationships up with them that way.

5. Some may say…”They can only have 5000 people in their circles”
Well, they may well want to start researching who are the influencers and understand how to relate to them, as they influence a far wider circle. This can take your message far beyond your network when they share them.

6. Building genuine relationships is something that takes time – trust needs to be built.
If you are taking people’s attention, then people expect value in return. Look to provide what they want and, in my view, don’t rush to get a sale on Google+ – there could be a strong emotional response.

7. Word of mouth, in its newest form, will happen when people relate to messages and want to share them on. Sharing on Google+ is an incredible way of spreading messages when people relate to them. So, look at what you send out and whether you can make it more engaging, more shareable.

8. Knowing your memes could also you to relate even better to the shared “mind” (culture) to which you want to relate. Memes are simply units of thought or behaviour that replicate over time and different memes exist in different sub-cultures. If you know what people relate to in terms of memes, then you will be able to create/propagate them.

9. Hangouts on air. As well as a great personal tool for friendship and business, hangouts can be on air (i.e. streamed on YouTube) can be used to build up brand exposure and engagement with an audience as well.
People make comments whilst the on-air is live, and also after the event as well. Then you can add them back into a circle, let them know you have done it/share it etc. This can seriously deepen relationships.

10. An attitude of commoogling – this is the concept about people relating in a positive fashion, collaborating on projects and generally working together. We may find that when we come together around such concepts itself, we find the people with whom we resonate even more.


Google+ is an incredible experience and I delighted to see so many people relating to the concept of commoogling as well. With a cooperative culture built on mutual respect, appreciation and learning we will be able to explore so many of our passions for years to come.

Thanks to everyone who keeps teaching me new things every day.