Google+ is a very pretty looking social networking site. It has a clean interface, there are no restrictions to the length of update that can be posted like on Twitter, there are lots of features that are very shiny and new.
But at the moment, I am just not finding it social at all. I should note, that I am an avid Twitter user, who at the time of writing has posted around about 18,000 tweets in a little under 2 ½ years. I am a fairly active Facebook user, although in a much less public way. I’ve also been maintaining a network on LinkedIn, although have invested very little in the way of time to do anything with that network.
So, at present, I have Facebook to liaise with people I consider “real” friends (although I will admit, there are a handful of friends on there that I am yet to meet). This is a private and closed network for those that I am close to – and within these there are 2 levels – people that have full access to my whole account, and those that have more limited access for a variety of reasons. Both groups get regular updates, just one group has slightly fewer if there are things that I wouldn’t want shared with old friends.
I have Twitter for my public “Brand” (Klout sees me as being an authority on SEO, Social Media and Rum, which is pretty accurate), where I do most of my writing on observations about things I see in my working life, share relevant content, discuss hot topics of the hour/day/week.
At the moment this is where I spend the most of my time, either in or outside of work. Through Twitter however, I have made some real friends and connections that I am confident will be in my life for a long time moving forwards, regardless of the continuation of the network itself.
Twitter is a useful broadcast of message medium.
LinkedIn is all about professional networking, and in nearly all cases, my connections on here are people I’ve worked with, or for in the past, or some other contacts gained from meeting in real life or from networking on Twitter. I’m not looking for work, which is when I suspect LinkedIn comes into its own as a social tool, so perhaps I haven’t had to find out the prime reasons for using this network.
So – in comes Google+. I’ll confess, I was really excited when it launched. As I said earlier, the interface is clean, has lots of interesting features and is ready to be a network for socialising.
But for me, at the moment this is just not happening.
The circles idea is great – this is pretty much exactly how I manage my Facebook account, with lists. But I really do not want to manage these all the time. I probably should have set some up on day 1 and get a decent structure in place to these then, but I was too busily trying out the shinier stuff and just stuck people in the default groups.
The biggest thing for me with Google Plus so far is the lack of sociability on the website from the participants there. Most of the conversations that I have started so far have taken days to get responses from people – people that I know if I was speaking to on Twitter would have replied instantly and the conversation would be done in minutes.
This slower burn on the social aspects of the campaign makes things not very social at all.
I have found myself checking in on what is happening on the network more since the iPhone App was released, but even then, rarely feel compelled to add an update.
So far, most of the contacts I have on Google + are people that I already have high engagement levels with on Twitter. What motivation is Google giving us to move the conversation across? Well there are some funky features and no limits to post length, but most conversations with similar people on Twitter are fast exchanges and succinct, making these almost irrelevant.
A big problem for me at the moment as well is the content being added. I am also a little guilty of the first of these, but there is very little unique being put on these networks that don’t already appear on Twitter and/or Facebook. I definitely do this, but the lack of unique messaging from many on this channel makes things a little dull.
Those that are using unique messages on this channel are very heavily marketing their products, or talking about Google+ itself. For the first week or so that I was on there, I definitely posted updates with queries about Google+, but now, surely we are at a stage where there is something more that can be being done on here.
Outside of my contacts in the online marketing community, with 150 odd people that I am following on here, do you know how many have nothing to do with online marketing? At the moment, for me, its 1. All the current users of this network are the same old early adopters of most “cool” new things that come out.
I really think that Google + needs an influx of real people, that have nothing to do with online marketing. But to get these people, Google needs some form of hook. Yes, it has some cool nice features, and organising your friends into neat little groups – but these are means to an end, not the end itself.
I’ve shown this network to a lot of people outside of this space, and with all of them, they question has been “why would I use this?”
At the moment, I am not sure why. However, Google are expending a lot of energy and resource into Google+ and do not want to see it go the way of Google Buzz.
I’m sure there is a lot more to come to be integrated here – I expect Business Pages merged with their places pages, allowing users to Plus 1 businesses that they like, and review them from within this system. I’m sure there are umpteen more plans for the network that I haven’t considered.
But the problem for me, at the moment, is that I see this network as a tool to pay attention to for work, and do not find it “social” at all at the moment. I really do want to “like” this platform, but at the moment, it just is not doing it for me in the way that I had hoped and expected. It could well end up being a useful search marketing tool if it can take off and can be used as signal instead or in combination with link profiles.