Why Google+ Has Not Become The Facebook Killer
Earlier last year Google+ was released in to beta then by invitation and finally to the public, while it has received much fanfare it is anything but a dominating force against Facebook.
If you’re not familiar with Google+, I’ll give you a quick run down. Google+ is a social network much like Facebook, you can post/share photos, videos, links you have friends, you can “like” posts (Google+ calls this +1). G+ even allows you to tag people in photos. There are also games on G+ just like in Facebook and yes they do post to your stream. So why take on Facebook? Well when you’re the big man on campus, like Google, and suddenly a new guy shows up and starts taking some of your lunch money, he quickly becomes a target. That’s just what happened with Google, they saw where Facebook is headed and began to realize they needed to tie all their products/services together and take on the Goliath that is Facebook. In the summer of 2011 Google+ was released to the general public, there was so much buzz in the tech community and even the major media outlets, everyone was raving about Google Plus’ amazing features. Google introduced something called a “hangout” this is essentially a multi-person video conference, its an easy way to communicate with anyone on Google+ within a couple clicks. There are other great features in G+ such as “Circles”, a circle is a basically a list of your Google friends, you can choose when you post something which circle(s) you want to share with and even view all the updates you see in your stream based by circle in one-click. There are also some some privacy features in G+, not to mention its very robust, pleasing to look at and very stable. Facebook (not unlike other web services and applications) is known for its glitches, this is something rarely experienced on Google+.
So, this begs the question, if Google+, by most opinion in the tech community is a better service, why isn’t everyone jumping ship? When Google+ first opened its doors it was by invitation only, it had droves of geeks and artists, people who are passionate about technology and using it. On one hand, having a solid base of tech oriented folks such as those in IT and photographers is great because Google received wonderfully beneficial feedback, on the other hand it was also a real problem. When non-geek people join a social network and all they see are updates from the geeks and experts, and they can’t find their other friends…they immediately are turned off. I consider myself a geek and I use social networking primarily (other than for work with clients) to stay in contact with friends, family, former classmates, etc, and you know what? I cannot find my “real world” friends on Google Plus, so I don’t update Google+ as much, because most of the people I follow are experts in their field, and while I find their posts fascinating and read most linked articles, I don’t do much else. This lack of posting to G+ leads to the other issue, most reports and stats you read state that most G+ user update frequencies decline shortly after joining. So, if you have a great social network that has a lot of potential and strong base of social savvy people, but they’re not updating and then not promoting it…well, its just not going to gain popularity.
I believe Google has done everything right with Google+, in my opinion, its a far superior product to Facebook. I love the privacy and stream controls, the fact that I can have game updates in their own stream (or feed) without having to setup filters or clicking hide 300x is a real plus for me. I also think that the Google+ mobile application is far superior to Facebook’s, its consistent, stable and it just makes sense. Google+ even has a table oriented application, when I use Facebook’s app on my Android tablet I often get booted out or features simply don’t work that well. I often post on G+ and Facebook about my friends not translating over to Google’s spiffy new social network. I think the only way Google can hope for a surge that is meaningful is if they get the everyday Joe on Google+ and not just the tech geeks. That being said, I’m sure Google realizes this too and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have some ad campaigns in mind. If you can’t bring the product to the people, bring the people to the product.