Review: Why I’m “meh” about Google+

I was reading Nancy McCord’s blog article this week about Google Plus (Google+),  and she made some very good points about the application’s competitive viability in the online social networking marketplace.  Nancy’s a Google expert, so you want to check it out.

I’d like to add to her points by saying Google+ is not only NOT going to give Facebook — or Twitter or LinkedIn, for that matter — a run for their advertising dollars or subscribers anytime soon, it has essentially failed to deliver on what a social network is supposed to be.  It has failed to meet a social need for people.

Where Google+ Missed the Boat

For one thing, Google+ just feels generic, as an experience. Other social networks definitely have a purpose and personality, and a tone.  They are meeting different needs for different people.

To use social metaphors, I think of Facebook as neighborhood potluck dinner, all positive and upbeat, where you’re having extended conversations with people you care about on things that matter to you.  And Twitter’s a loud cocktail party in the most fashionable lounge in town, where you show up in Mac makeup and stilettos and catch just snippets of what is topmost and trendy.  LinkedIn is a high-profile social networking event full of suits and business cards — more measured and deliberate, with polished elevator speeches and sensible pumps that say “hire me: I’m reliable.”

See what I mean?  Personality.  But what kind of personality has Google+ got?  Not one I can discern. If you’ve got an idea, post it in the comments.  To me, it has all the effervescence of tap water.

Social Networks Must Fulfill Human Needs

Social networks meet the various ways people want to communicate.  Twitter fills a need for people to vent, or show off a little. It’s snappy, fast, and even snarky and negative, at times, which is one reason why a lot of people hate Twitter (and others love it).

People go there for quick news updates, links, hot tips (e.g., about where to eat lunch), celebrity news. There might be a little back and forth, but to me, it’s more like a community bulletin board, rather than a conversational vehicle.

And we all know that the heaviest Twitter users are media, tech, PR/marketing people. Twitter may draw people in but it has a hard time keeping them logging in.  There isn’t a true cross-section of the American public on Twitter, but maybe there isn’t meant to be.

Facebook fills a need for people to connect in a very personal way, and it’s here where Google+ misses the boat.  In contrast to Twitter, Facebook’s warm and fuzzy, and more extended in relationship feeling. Real conversations take place, but there isn’t a lot of whining (more commiserating).  People don’t post their baby pictures on Twitter (as much) but they do on Facebook. Facebook has become a leisure past-time, so no wonder advertisers are flocking to it.

Where does that leave Google+ ? It may “work” technically but what social need does it fill for people who will find irresistible?

I mean, what’s it for?

It doesn’t meet a clear need so people don’t know what to do with it, other than join it.  If they want to post work-related posts and links, there is always the established LinkedIn.  It doesn’t have the fun snappiness of Twitter or the deep, relational qualities of Facebook.  It doesn’t fulfill those niche needs met by Yelp and TripAdvisor and iVillage (to name a few).

So, who needs it?

If You Want People to Use it, You Have to Make it Easy to Use

Google+ is also not that easy to use.  Which didn’t surprise me, because a lot of Google stuff  to me seems unecessarily complicated (don’t get me started on Google Docs).

Google has acquired companies and applications, like the blogging platform that became Blogger, and Picasa, and Feedburner, YouTube, among others. I can remember using these “pre-Google.”  And they always proceed to “Google-fy” them — making them more proprietary, and frankly, more complicated to use.  They don’t want you going off-campus, so they make you jump through Google-hoops, and I feel Google+ is similar in this regard.  For example, there is very little integration with other apps.  You cannot, for example, feed your WordPress blog to Google+ the way you can with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.  What was particularly surprising to me is that Google+ did not fully integrate its own Google applications.   So there is a video feature, but no YouTube integration.  Who double-uploads anymore? You embed video.  So, that omission is just inexplicable to me.

Google+ just doesn’t appear to play nicely with others.

Add Me To Your Circles!

I’m a huge Facebook and Twitter fan, but Google+ fails to move me, not like Twitter or Facebook does, which I check everyday, even on vacation.

Still, it’s my business to know about these things, so I’m on Google+ —  check out my branded profile and add me to your circles.  But if you really want to benefit from my “intellectual capital” (I love that phrase, makes me sound smart, doesn’t it?), join my Facebook Page.

Need Help With Google+?

If you’re not on Google+ and want to try it, let me know, and I will get you on.  And please contact me if I can help you better understand and brand your Google+ profile.

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on August 10, 2011, in Marketing Tips, Social Media Tips and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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