Can you hear me now?

Michael PhillipsWe live in interesting times, as they say. Communication – instant communication – is available via countless methods on half a dozen devices that you probably own. If you want to, you can be connected to a constant flow of information around the clock. Some of it really interesting, some of it questionable, and some (much) of it is simply useless.

In the web hosting business, one thing a lot of customers ask for is more communication. Some people want to be advised of everything that goes on that could potentially affect their sites. In the not-too-distant past, the only form of relatively instant communication we had for that purpose was email.

The problem is, a lot of people are very sensitive about their email inboxes, and if you email them too much, they get cranky and tend to tell you to knock it off. Often in less pleasant terms. Our 15+ years of experience tells us that those people far outnumber the group who want to get an email from us every few days.

But now with the explosion in social media outlets, we can provide that information in a much less intrusive way, via our forum, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. So we do. We post a lot of things to a lot of outlets, and hopefully we cover the needs of almost everyone that way.

But we had a bit of a flashback to the you-email-me-too-often! response earlier today when we tried to push a message to the people in our Google+ circles.

I was watching the Google I/O Conference stream and they introduced the Events feature in Google+. You can create an event and invite people in your circles to attend. It’s meant for real-world meetings or Google+ video Hangouts. But it also seemed to me to be a cool opportunity to push messages to the people in our circles. To provide them with important information in a way that would grab their attention.

It grabbed their attention alright.

Within minutes of posting the event, comments started to come in. People were either perplexed or angry, which are two responses that you don’t generally want to evoke with your messaging.

How did I get a notification about this? Does it just notify everyone in all your circles?

Wonder how to say “No” to “Are you going?”…

I can’t remove this from Calendar. I cannot select not to attend. Well done. I don’t want to remove notification of events but at least it should not appear on calendar unless I accept to attend.

What is this? You want me to attend network maintenance?

+DiscountASP.NET Welcome to the ban-hammer.

So yeah, not a good idea after all. I deleted the event and posted an explanation. No one left any angry comments on that post, so I assume everyone got over the event (har har) pretty quickly. But as a side note, to those naysayers out there who claim that Google+ is a “ghost town,” I think this little experiment proved that to be wildly incorrect.

Sometimes when you try new things you fall on your face. That’s unavoidable. It’s part and parcel of progress. The Internet has been around seemingly forever, yet we’re still groping around and finding our way every day, working all of this stuff out. We never will work it all out, but at least things will always be interesting.

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