The second-most important thing about social media is talking to people. The most important thing is to know whom you're talking to. We can't have a conversation about "authenticity" or "realness" or any other airy social media concept until we understand that there are people listening on the other side of that megaphone, and that's very nice of them to do. In order to get something out of social media, our listeners have to get something out of listening to us.
To give them what they want, it helps to know who they are. With the integration of Google+ into search, Google's social network will become an increasingly important part of the Web. By Google's count, it has 90 million users already. If you want to have a presence in Google search, active participation on Google+ is a good idea. I tested a tool for understanding the Google+ audience today and found some interesting insights.
Global Google+ Demographics
The tools at PlusDemographics.com gather many of the basic statistics one needs to understand who uses Google+. They offer a free global report that they compiled by crawling 45 million public profiles, a very healthy sample of the estimated total, and normalizing the somewhat erratic data they got to within acceptable limits.
As it stands in January 2012, 70.38% of Google+ users identify as male, 28.77% are female, and the remainder fall into Google's third category: "other." Nearly 80% of users fall into the 18-34 age brackets. Over 30% of users are from the U.S., followed by around 14% from India, although the #2 state/region and seven of the top 10 cities are in India.
The majority of Google+ users surveyed are not active on Facebook or Twitter. 99.7% are not active on Foursquare. Google+ is a different place altogether from the rest of the social Web. How do my own followers compare?
Personal Google+ Demographics
PlusDemographics also offers personal reports for a fee. Single reports cost $4.99 for personal profiles and $9.95 for business pages. There are discounts for buying reports in packs. Personal reports crawl up to 10,000 followers, which ought to be enough to get a sense. It gives you general demographic information about your people as a whole, and it highlights some individual users following you based on their "prominence" on the network. Here's what it found from mine:
Almost 87% of my encirclements identify as male. That's a pretty remarkable indication of the demographics of people who follow tech bloggers on Google+.
The age breakdown is comparable to the global population, trending slightly older, which I find flattering.
The majority of my Google+ followers do use Facebook, which is different from the general population. Almost none are active on Klout, but that's more than in the global report, which found less than 0.1% used Klout.
These are all very basic data points, of course. Only a rough understanding of my encirclements is possible from these data. The way to get to know the people they represent is by talking to them, sharing with them and following their links.
How do you get to know the people on your social networks?