“My Google+ home page is worse than a ghost town. It doesn’t even feel haunted.” That’s what a writer from the Omaha World Herald wrote about her experience with Google+.
I have to say that both of these statements really resonate with me. The very first thought I had about Google+ was “[Sigh] Great, another social network that wants more of my time”. I just got to the point where most of my family (aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents) and friends are in the conversation on Facebook. Seriously, it took years for that to happen. Now it’s easy for me to connect with just about anyone I want to on Facebook. Then, Google+ comes along, not just late to the party, but TOO LATE to the party.
So, I’m going to give you 5 reasons why I feel Google+ is TOO LATE to the party and will ultimately fail. Then I’ll give you 1 reason why Google+ will succeed.
5 reasons why Google+ will fail, +1 why it will succeed.
1. Everyone is already on Facebook.
I’m talking everyone. My nearly 70 year old mother-in-law is on Facebook. The first time she even touched a computer, about 6-7 years ago, she couldn’t even move the mouse around correctly. When I told her to just grab that mouse and move it around she picked it up off the desk and proceeded to move it around…in thin air! My 3 year old daughter said, “No Nana, like this. Here, just let me do this for you.” The learning curve just to get ‘Nanas’ using a computer, let alone a social network, is a huge barrier to getting them over to a NEW social network like Google+. You might say “Well…they learned how to use Facebook, they can learn to use Google+ right?” Yes, they can, but why would they want to? They’re already connected nicely to their family and friends. There is NO WAY you’re going to get a late adopter of technology to use two social networks at the same time, especially two that are basically the same aside from a few ‘features’.
2. Google+ isn’t niche enough.
It’s trying bite off everyone at once, and frankly it might be more than it can chew. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the top social networks, past and present, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the late ‘great?’ MySpace. I know, MySpace is gone per se, but it’s relevant to my point. All these networks started as niche networks. They had a focus and a target audience. That WORKED. Google+ is trying to bite all of these off at once. I know, they haven’t launched all their ‘business’ features yet but marketers, like Digital C4, are having to pay attention because it’s Google, and Google+ is another medium for advertising, SEO, and social media marketing. Its focus isn’t on a giving group of people a place to interact in conversation and connect, its focus is creating another advertising revenue stream. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Google+ isn’t a social network at heart.
It’s a medium to deliver advertising and create a new revenue stream to boost stock value for shareholders. Sounds pretty ‘conspiracy theory’ but it’s true. “DUH!” you say. Ok, we all know this but I believe that it’s a reason why ‘the masses’ won’t just jump over. Facebook started out connecting people. Sure, they may have thought down the road they could sell advertising, or sell the company, but at the heart of Facebook was the desire to tie a group/niche of like-minded, similarly aged, people together in conversation and community. That heart was the foundation, and that has driven its wild success. They did it. They succeeded. Now Google+ wants in. The problem is that Facebook already did it. Did I say that twice?
4. Google isn’t cool anymore.
Remember when Google was cool? They were this wildly successful startup that was experiencing huge success, tons of media attention, and lots of envy from every entrepreneur in the world. Ok…not much in that last sentence has changed but now we’re looking at a company that is public, with shareholders that are extremely interested in how their stock price is faring. That changes the game. Also, now they’re taking on the likes of Microsoft and Apple in their business ventures. Which is only to say that their so big that they’re not this cool ‘discovery’ anymore. Google used to come up with the coolest stuff. Innovative and amazing new tools that nobody on the planet had seen. Now, that’s all a thing of the past. They’re creating products that compete with products already out there, like Microsoft Office and Apple iPhone. Google+ isn’t cool and innovative either. It’s a copycat version of Facebook with only a few feature differences that are attempting to set it apart. Frankly, Google+ looks to be a very expensive way to give Facebook a feature roadmap.
5. Google+ is a technical challenge.
What do I mean? Well, I’m not literally saying that Google+ is a technical challenge to use. It’s just a technical challenge, dare I say nightmare, if you have more than one Google Account. I won’t even go into all the details of what a nightmare it has been with all Google account changes in the past couple months. Let’s just say if you have multiple Google Accounts you’re going to have to pick one to use for Google+, and then remember to login to that account first if you plan on logging into multiple accounts.
(Side note: 3 Annoying side NOTES about Google Accounts: 1. If you do HAVE to login to multiple accounts, as I do for personal and business, I have to do it EVERY time I open my browser. Annoying! 2. If I log out of one account it logs me out of all my accounts. Annoying! 3. If I don’t login to the account my Google+ account is tied to first, then I can’t get to it without logging out of all my accounts and logging back in with the correct account. Annoying! But I digress)
Finally, there is at least one reason why I think Google+ could make it…
+1. Google dominates search.
Google dominates search and that is a HUGE audience. So, if they position +1 as a major search engine optimization (SEO) tool for marketers (like it appears they might have) then at least companies will need to take part . If that happens then it’ll then have become simply the most important directory for posting content to whether people are actively participating on the Google Plus site or not.
So, there is lots of debate out there around Google Plus. Some like it and some don’t. I do know this, as a marketer, Google continues to be a thought leader in the advertising space, as well as the dominate search leader. Marketers must pay attention to Google Plus. Despite all my doubts about Google+ at this point, we know from the past that Google can find ways to be successful. I’ll continue to watch, even if from Google+’s sideline, to see if it can somehow gain traction and increase adoption. If it does you can be sure I, along with other marketers, will be there with my clients.