Guest commentary: Since Google+ launched in June of this year, two questions have been on everyone’s mind in the digital community: 1) Can it become a huge success for Google? And 2) Can I use it to make huge success for me?

Much has been written about the first question; but very little about the second.

And so, because we’re obsessive about knowing the social Web, my colleagues and I at Wetpaint have looked long and hard at the second (and unanswered) question.

After a good deal of analysis, I can report that the answer for us as a media company (so far, at least) is “no.”

Here’s what we’ve found:

The lights are on, but no one is home

Google has been quick to point out that 40 million users have “signed up” for Google+. That’s because the product is deeply bolted onto every product inside the Google empire, including Gmail, and they did a nice job of making it easy to invite everyone you know.

People checked it out, but they haven’t been back, and I’d bet their active user rates are in the single digits. Every time I log in, there’s almost zero activity among my “circles.” Even with 40 million, that pales in comparison to the reach of Facebook’s worldwide audience of 800 million (200 million in the U.S.), who are far more active (500M per day!).

Users can manage one social network, and no more

Mainstream users have demonstrated that they reach saturation after managing one social network when it comes to their personal life. First, it was Friendster; then MySpace; now Facebook. People don’t have the time and attention span to manage overlapping networks of friends and conversations.

It doesn’t solve a consumer problem

Ben Elowitz

There hasn’t been a migration to Google+ because it doesn’t solve a real consumer problem. Facebook has an entrenched audience with deeply embedded habits.

In order for a migration to take place, Google+ needs to do something massively new that addresses a consumer pain point (which it doesn’t – at least not yet), or Facebook needs to make a massive blunder that drives people away (for example, around privacy, which I don’t think most users really care about).  Overcoming this is even harder for Google, largely because it’s viewed by most as a utility, not a place to facilitate stronger online connections / community.

That said, there are a few things I’ll be watching as Google+ moves ahead in the short term:

Influencers:

The people who are using Google+ now (the single digits mentioned above) are industry influencers / luminaries / connectors.  They’re using it as a less restricted version of Twitter, because Google+ can share longer, deeper messages than 140 characters will allow. I’ll be curious to see if there’s a migration of these folks from Twitter to Google+. I tend to doubt it, however.

Business pages:

Google has encouraged businesses and brands to sit on the sidelines until they release business pages as part of Google+ later this year. These are akin to “fan pages” on Facebook. If these solve a new consumer problem, then they could trigger some migration. But, again, I attach low odds to this possibility.

Search impact:

The most convincing argument for embracing Google+ is its potential impact on search. It’s too early to say, but there is speculation that Google will tune its search algorithms to overweight those who “perform” well with Google+.

For example, if a brand gets lots of +1’s (Google’s version of the “like” button), then that brand’s share of search volume could be dramatically increased to encourage broader adoption of content providers. This is something I’ll be evaluating after business pages launch, which should take place before the end of the year.

There is no question that the crew at Google is brilliant. And they will clearly be looking to improve their service for consumers and make it relevant as a premier social operating system for the Web.

But what I will be watching is whether they can solve these core issues to make it a must-have for consumers. And, if they do, then it will become a must-have for publishers as well.

Ben Elowitz is co-founder and CEO of next-generation web publisher Wetpaint, and author of the Digital Quarters blog about the future of digital media. Prior to Wetpaint, Elowitz co-founded Blue Nile.

Previously on GeekWire: Ben Elowitz, Wetpaint CEO, on building a new type of media company

Comments

  • http://www.thegraphicmac.com JimD

    This is actually the first, and so far only, honest and accurate assessment of Google+ I’ve read since it was released.

    Google blew it with G+, in my opinion. They had the “buzz” (no pun intended) when it went into beta – but they missed out on the buzz because it was invite only. Now that it’s live for the general public, the only people on it are tech pundits and geeks. As you pointed out, most people are signing up to stick their toe in the water, and quickly realizing that the water is freezing – moving to warmer Facebook waters.

    And while Circles are great, they aren’t simple enough for the average consumer to wrap their head around. Again, outside of technology enthusiasts, most people want to share everything publicly. This leaves them to look at Circles with a dazed & confused look on their face. No more evidence is needed than the the fact that Facebook Lists have been around forever and they’ve basically resorted to shoving them down our digital throat recently to get us to use them.

    The lack of brand/business pages is probably a bigger deal than most people realize. While most people probably don’t use them, they feel “comfortable” in Facebook because there’s something there that they recognize to read.

    • http://about.me/trapolino Christina Trapolino

      I would argue that the “invite-only” status increased rather than decreased buzz.  Sounds like a difference in opinion on a fundamental level, of course.

      Geeks and pundits only?  I don’t know about that.  I’m following almost 4500 people (Circles allow me to follow some more closely than others).  Out of that sample, I’d say plenty are neither pundits nor geeks.  Regular people abound.  If you can’t find them, maybe you’re not looking in the right places?

      I think lots of people find Circles to be intuitive.  Could the feature use improvement?  A resounding yes!  But the Circles feature is pretty solid, concept-wise.  My dad had no trouble figuring it out, he just doesn’t care about social networking in general.  He sure as heck never figured out how to share with or read only specific folks on Facebook.

      Your last point is just confusing for me, I’m sorry.  Are you saying that Facebook as a platform is more comfortable for people because familiar brands are already there?  Or are you saying that people are more comfortable reading brand pages on Facebook because Facebook itself is familiar to them?  Neither of these are necessarily arguments for why Google+’s current lack of brand pages is detrimental (which it very well may be).

      • http://www.thegraphicmac.com JimD

        4500 people? Yikes. According to Facebook’s own stats, the average person has 130 “friends” (remember, we’re talking AVERAGE person, not tech savvy people like us). I think that number is heavily curved due to the likes of the Robert Scobles of the world and it’s probably closer to 80 or 90, but whatever. Let’s say that number is correct for the sake of argument. Even if 50% of those 130 friends also signed up for G+. Why would anyone bother with G+ when they can interact with 100% of them on Facebook?

        Regarding Circles. I agree that Circles aren’t terribly complicated for you/me/tech savvy folks. But the fact is that the average person is not. That’s why such a small percentage of people use Facebook lists. I think people ultimately WANT to share whatever they’re typing into FB or G+ with everyone on the service – because for a vast majority that only means 100 people or less. They don’t want to be burdened with figuring out who should see something and who shouldn’t. If you take that factor out of it, there’s really not a compelling reason to use G+ at all. Circles are the killer feature (yeah, I know the video chat is awesome, but there again – most people probably don’t use it).

        Regarding the brands comment. I’ll give you an example. My father wanted to sign up for Facebook to view some photos of an old friend. He really had no other reason, but was interested. Because there were already brands he knew on Facebook (Dole, Budweiser, ESPN, Coca-Cola, etc.) he had SOMETHING to read on Facebook until such time that he built-up his list of friends. It was a comfort thing. It gave him an excuse to stick with it until it became useful to him on a daily basis. It also gave him a way to learn the ins and outs of using Facebook in general.

        With G+, so many people already on here are tech savvy enough that they’re sharing privately with Circles. So as a new user, you enter G+ with nothing if you don’t already know enough people to make it worth bothering with. There are no brands to “fill the gaps.”

        • http://about.me/trapolino Christina Trapolino

          Well, it sounds like we just have to agree to disagree.  

          It seems to me that you simply don’t know enough about Google+ to be making the claims that you are.  Have you been extensively involved with the Google+ community?  If you were, you’d know that Hangouts (the “video chat” part) are huge — used constantly, to the point where there are external sites dedicated to tracking and broadcasting what goes on in public hangouts.If someone wants to broadcast his photos and status updates to an entire network because he thinks that the entire network is just made up of only his own connections, fine.  That is the same person who winds up fired from his job for posting pictures of himself dancing on a bar on Facebook.  But you are blaming a network/platform for that strange sharing phenomenon rather than the individual.  Maybe people don’t care so much about targeted sharing, but they certainly seem to care about privacy more and more.

          As for brands…I simply don’t agree.  People sign up for social networking sites to socialize with people they know or would like to know.  They do not sign up to read brand page broadcasts.  Your dad sounds like an exception, not the rule.

        • http://about.me/trapolino Christina Trapolino

          Well, it sounds like we just have to agree to disagree.  

          It seems to me that you simply don’t know enough about Google+ to be making the claims that you are.  Have you been extensively involved with the Google+ community?  If you were, you’d know that Hangouts (the “video chat” part) are huge — used constantly, to the point where there are external sites dedicated to tracking and broadcasting what goes on in public hangouts.If someone wants to broadcast his photos and status updates to an entire network because he thinks that the entire network is just made up of only his own connections, fine.  That is the same person who winds up fired from his job for posting pictures of himself dancing on a bar on Facebook.  But you are blaming a network/platform for that strange sharing phenomenon rather than the individual.  Maybe people don’t care so much about targeted sharing, but they certainly seem to care about privacy more and more.

          As for brands…I simply don’t agree.  People sign up for social networking sites to socialize with people they know or would like to know.  They do not sign up to read brand page broadcasts.  Your dad sounds like an exception, not the rule.

        • http://about.me/trapolino Christina Trapolino

          Well, it sounds like we just have to agree to disagree.  

          It seems to me that you simply don’t know enough about Google+ to be making the claims that you are.  Have you been extensively involved with the Google+ community?  If you were, you’d know that Hangouts (the “video chat” part) are huge — used constantly, to the point where there are external sites dedicated to tracking and broadcasting what goes on in public hangouts.If someone wants to broadcast his photos and status updates to an entire network because he thinks that the entire network is just made up of only his own connections, fine.  That is the same person who winds up fired from his job for posting pictures of himself dancing on a bar on Facebook.  But you are blaming a network/platform for that strange sharing phenomenon rather than the individual.  Maybe people don’t care so much about targeted sharing, but they certainly seem to care about privacy more and more.

          As for brands…I simply don’t agree.  People sign up for social networking sites to socialize with people they know or would like to know.  They do not sign up to read brand page broadcasts.  Your dad sounds like an exception, not the rule.

        • http://about.me/trapolino Christina Trapolino

          Well, it sounds like we just have to agree to disagree.  

          It seems to me that you simply don’t know enough about Google+ to be making the claims that you are.  Have you been extensively involved with the Google+ community?  If you were, you’d know that Hangouts (the “video chat” part) are huge — used constantly, to the point where there are external sites dedicated to tracking and broadcasting what goes on in public hangouts.If someone wants to broadcast his photos and status updates to an entire network because he thinks that the entire network is just made up of only his own connections, fine.  That is the same person who winds up fired from his job for posting pictures of himself dancing on a bar on Facebook.  But you are blaming a network/platform for that strange sharing phenomenon rather than the individual.  Maybe people don’t care so much about targeted sharing, but they certainly seem to care about privacy more and more.

          As for brands…I simply don’t agree.  People sign up for social networking sites to socialize with people they know or would like to know.  They do not sign up to read brand page broadcasts.  Your dad sounds like an exception, not the rule.

      • http://www.thegraphicmac.com JimD

        4500 people? Yikes. According to Facebook’s own stats, the average person has 130 “friends” (remember, we’re talking AVERAGE person, not tech savvy people like us). I think that number is heavily curved due to the likes of the Robert Scobles of the world and it’s probably closer to 80 or 90, but whatever. Let’s say that number is correct for the sake of argument. Even if 50% of those 130 friends also signed up for G+. Why would anyone bother with G+ when they can interact with 100% of them on Facebook?

        Regarding Circles. I agree that Circles aren’t terribly complicated for you/me/tech savvy folks. But the fact is that the average person is not. That’s why such a small percentage of people use Facebook lists. I think people ultimately WANT to share whatever they’re typing into FB or G+ with everyone on the service – because for a vast majority that only means 100 people or less. They don’t want to be burdened with figuring out who should see something and who shouldn’t. If you take that factor out of it, there’s really not a compelling reason to use G+ at all. Circles are the killer feature (yeah, I know the video chat is awesome, but there again – most people probably don’t use it).

        Regarding the brands comment. I’ll give you an example. My father wanted to sign up for Facebook to view some photos of an old friend. He really had no other reason, but was interested. Because there were already brands he knew on Facebook (Dole, Budweiser, ESPN, Coca-Cola, etc.) he had SOMETHING to read on Facebook until such time that he built-up his list of friends. It was a comfort thing. It gave him an excuse to stick with it until it became useful to him on a daily basis. It also gave him a way to learn the ins and outs of using Facebook in general.

        With G+, so many people already on here are tech savvy enough that they’re sharing privately with Circles. So as a new user, you enter G+ with nothing if you don’t already know enough people to make it worth bothering with. There are no brands to “fill the gaps.”

  • http://www.thegraphicmac.com JimD

    This is actually the first, and so far only, honest and accurate assessment of Google+ I’ve read since it was released.

    Google blew it with G+, in my opinion. They had the “buzz” (no pun intended) when it went into beta – but they missed out on the buzz because it was invite only. Now that it’s live for the general public, the only people on it are tech pundits and geeks. As you pointed out, most people are signing up to stick their toe in the water, and quickly realizing that the water is freezing – moving to warmer Facebook waters.

    And while Circles are great, they aren’t simple enough for the average consumer to wrap their head around. Again, outside of technology enthusiasts, most people want to share everything publicly. This leaves them to look at Circles with a dazed & confused look on their face. No more evidence is needed than the the fact that Facebook Lists have been around forever and they’ve basically resorted to shoving them down our digital throat recently to get us to use them.

    The lack of brand/business pages is probably a bigger deal than most people realize. While most people probably don’t use them, they feel “comfortable” in Facebook because there’s something there that they recognize to read.

  • Guest

    “Users can manage one social network, and no more.”

    Bollocks. Users can manage one social network for their corporate life (LinkedIn), one social network for their commercial activities (Amazon), one social network for their commentary needs (Disqus), one social network for their animated GIFs (Tumblr), one social network for their high-quality photos (Flickr), and three social networks for everything else (Facetwitplus). Integrating all of these activities might require one device, such as iPhone or Windows Phone 7, but it’s incredibly unproductive to state that one jack-of-all-trades web site must control the entire customer experience.

  • http://www.openpotion.com Jason Hull

    I think the name is a huge flaw… Google Plus? It needs its own branding if it is going to compete with Facebook.  It too easily gets lumped in with all of google’s services… and google means search… or at least it used to.  “Facebook me!”  “Google me!”  Each has a meaning already.

    • http://about.me/trapolino Christina Trapolino

      But Google isn’t a search company.  It’s an advertising company.  Keep that in mind, and you may find that Google’s behavior seems less misguided.

      Google+ is supposed to be integrated into all of Google’s other products, and the G+ team has stated that repeatedly.  Suggesting that they need to brand it as something other than Google-centric is suggesting that you know better than Google, which you may, but it’s certainly not a matter of Google making branding decisions they don’t intend.

    • http://about.me/trapolino Christina Trapolino

      But Google isn’t a search company.  It’s an advertising company.  Keep that in mind, and you may find that Google’s behavior seems less misguided.

      Google+ is supposed to be integrated into all of Google’s other products, and the G+ team has stated that repeatedly.  Suggesting that they need to brand it as something other than Google-centric is suggesting that you know better than Google, which you may, but it’s certainly not a matter of Google making branding decisions they don’t intend.

    • http://about.me/trapolino Christina Trapolino

      But Google isn’t a search company.  It’s an advertising company.  Keep that in mind, and you may find that Google’s behavior seems less misguided.

      Google+ is supposed to be integrated into all of Google’s other products, and the G+ team has stated that repeatedly.  Suggesting that they need to brand it as something other than Google-centric is suggesting that you know better than Google, which you may, but it’s certainly not a matter of Google making branding decisions they don’t intend.

    • http://about.me/trapolino Christina Trapolino

      But Google isn’t a search company.  It’s an advertising company.  Keep that in mind, and you may find that Google’s behavior seems less misguided.

      Google+ is supposed to be integrated into all of Google’s other products, and the G+ team has stated that repeatedly.  Suggesting that they need to brand it as something other than Google-centric is suggesting that you know better than Google, which you may, but it’s certainly not a matter of Google making branding decisions they don’t intend.

  • http://www.openpotion.com Jason Hull

    I think the name is a huge flaw… Google Plus? It needs its own branding if it is going to compete with Facebook.  It too easily gets lumped in with all of google’s services… and google means search… or at least it used to.  “Facebook me!”  “Google me!”  Each has a meaning already.

  • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

    I’m going to switch the term from “idiots” to “assholes” at this point. They have a lot of chutzpah creating Plus and not immediately taking the obvious step of YouTube integration which may well have been the killer app we’ve been waiting for. The YouTube commenting system is so broken right now as to be sickening.  And those of us who have been waiting for an opportunity to abandon Facebook for good are once again left high and dry because Google lacks the competence to actually follow through on a social network. Disgusting.

    I hope I’m proven wrong. Really.

    • Guest

      Tell me more about YouTube+. Already I can post a YouTube vid on my Facegootwit and have my good, intelligent, learned followers conduct an engaging discussion free from the tweenaged idiots who converse anonymously on YouTube proper. How would you propose integrating YouTube, which is an excellent video hosting site saddled with an unacceptable commenting system, with the excellent encirclement platform of Goo+?

      • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

        I’ve been thinking about writing an article on this very topic but here is what I have in mind for what YouTube needs badly:

        1) Threaded discussion and notifications. Currently every YouTube comment section is one continuous stream of blather. That alone turns off more intelligent people who want structured conversation. Those who are more likely to spew crap are the ones who don’t mind and in fact desire an unstructured hit-n-run format. To participate in a YouTube video discussion, you could either start a thread, which would be identical in function to a G+ post, or you could comment on someone else’s post. All replies to your post would appear in your G+ black bar. Thus, every YouTube comment section would be a series of posts with replies; it would look like a G+ feed.

        2) Searchability. Right now you cannot search through a comment thread meaning the same crap gets said over and over. Also, if someone wants to know if something else feels the same way about a video, they have to manually sift through the thread. For instance, “I wonder who else thinks that guitarist’s face looks like it was hit by a frying pan”. Google is supposed to be the king of search, so I should be able to search comment threads. As it stands, I cannot even find the original post I made that somebody replied to.

        3) YouTube profiles and G+ profiles merged. There should be no difference. The YouTube profile should basically disappear and its contents be put into a G+ profile, while the G+ profile capabilities would be expanded to accommodate the new content.

        4) As implied, greater accountability. I’m a champion of anonymity as it relates to privacy, however if someone is going to participate in a video discussion, it must be made difficult for them to create a bunch of throwaway profiles so they can spew stupidity. Places like Ebaumsworld have 99% garbage comments because idiots can do just that.

        • Guest

          I like this idea. Right now Goo+ doesn’t handle replies in any more elegant fashion than YouTube does. Rather than a neat structured Usenet-style thread, we just have a 1-dimensional line of comments in which people are occasionally tagged (or “plussed,” as it were). I don’t mean to brag, but I have a 1680×1050 monitor. I’d like Goo+ to use more of it. Right now my Goo+ page looks like someone plopped an Android phone in the middle of my monitor and traced it.

          I look forward to more ideas about YouTube+. It’s high time that America’s #1 video site grew up.

          • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

            Even the G+ style of comments would be superior to what YouTube has if you could start a new comment thread as opposed to posting on the continuous stream. One of the most annoying and downright unprofessional elements of the YouTube comment system is that when someone replies to your post, and it’s been a while, there is no way of linking back to your original post other than sifting through potentially hundreds or even thousands of comments. It’s even more confusing when you find a reply to someone else’s post like “What an offensive comment!” and are curious to know what the original said. You’re basically SOL if it’s a popular video.

            The ability to search through long threads is not just important for consistency with Google’s commitment to search, but because it allows even old posts to remain relevant.

            Right now, the quality of discussion on YouTube vids suffers both because extreme anonymity always breeds dumb discussion and because intelligent people want intelligently structured conversations. Why would you waste your time crafting a brilliant response if it’s going to be buried by 100 verbal droppings?

          • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

            Even the G+ style of comments would be superior to what YouTube has if you could start a new comment thread as opposed to posting on the continuous stream. One of the most annoying and downright unprofessional elements of the YouTube comment system is that when someone replies to your post, and it’s been a while, there is no way of linking back to your original post other than sifting through potentially hundreds or even thousands of comments. It’s even more confusing when you find a reply to someone else’s post like “What an offensive comment!” and are curious to know what the original said. You’re basically SOL if it’s a popular video.

            The ability to search through long threads is not just important for consistency with Google’s commitment to search, but because it allows even old posts to remain relevant.

            Right now, the quality of discussion on YouTube vids suffers both because extreme anonymity always breeds dumb discussion and because intelligent people want intelligently structured conversations. Why would you waste your time crafting a brilliant response if it’s going to be buried by 100 verbal droppings?

          • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

            Even the G+ style of comments would be superior to what YouTube has if you could start a new comment thread as opposed to posting on the continuous stream. One of the most annoying and downright unprofessional elements of the YouTube comment system is that when someone replies to your post, and it’s been a while, there is no way of linking back to your original post other than sifting through potentially hundreds or even thousands of comments. It’s even more confusing when you find a reply to someone else’s post like “What an offensive comment!” and are curious to know what the original said. You’re basically SOL if it’s a popular video.

            The ability to search through long threads is not just important for consistency with Google’s commitment to search, but because it allows even old posts to remain relevant.

            Right now, the quality of discussion on YouTube vids suffers both because extreme anonymity always breeds dumb discussion and because intelligent people want intelligently structured conversations. Why would you waste your time crafting a brilliant response if it’s going to be buried by 100 verbal droppings?

        • Guest

          I like this idea. Right now Goo+ doesn’t handle replies in any more elegant fashion than YouTube does. Rather than a neat structured Usenet-style thread, we just have a 1-dimensional line of comments in which people are occasionally tagged (or “plussed,” as it were). I don’t mean to brag, but I have a 1680×1050 monitor. I’d like Goo+ to use more of it. Right now my Goo+ page looks like someone plopped an Android phone in the middle of my monitor and traced it.

          I look forward to more ideas about YouTube+. It’s high time that America’s #1 video site grew up.

      • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

        I’ve been thinking about writing an article on this very topic but here is what I have in mind for what YouTube needs badly:

        1) Threaded discussion and notifications. Currently every YouTube comment section is one continuous stream of blather. That alone turns off more intelligent people who want structured conversation. Those who are more likely to spew crap are the ones who don’t mind and in fact desire an unstructured hit-n-run format. To participate in a YouTube video discussion, you could either start a thread, which would be identical in function to a G+ post, or you could comment on someone else’s post. All replies to your post would appear in your G+ black bar. Thus, every YouTube comment section would be a series of posts with replies; it would look like a G+ feed.

        2) Searchability. Right now you cannot search through a comment thread meaning the same crap gets said over and over. Also, if someone wants to know if something else feels the same way about a video, they have to manually sift through the thread. For instance, “I wonder who else thinks that guitarist’s face looks like it was hit by a frying pan”. Google is supposed to be the king of search, so I should be able to search comment threads. As it stands, I cannot even find the original post I made that somebody replied to.

        3) YouTube profiles and G+ profiles merged. There should be no difference. The YouTube profile should basically disappear and its contents be put into a G+ profile, while the G+ profile capabilities would be expanded to accommodate the new content.

        4) As implied, greater accountability. I’m a champion of anonymity as it relates to privacy, however if someone is going to participate in a video discussion, it must be made difficult for them to create a bunch of throwaway profiles so they can spew stupidity. Places like Ebaumsworld have 99% garbage comments because idiots can do just that.

    • Guest

      Tell me more about YouTube+. Already I can post a YouTube vid on my Facegootwit and have my good, intelligent, learned followers conduct an engaging discussion free from the tweenaged idiots who converse anonymously on YouTube proper. How would you propose integrating YouTube, which is an excellent video hosting site saddled with an unacceptable commenting system, with the excellent encirclement platform of Goo+?

  • http://ClaussConcept.com Jason Gerard Clauss

    I’m going to switch the term from “idiots” to “assholes” at this point. They have a lot of chutzpah creating Plus and not immediately taking the obvious step of YouTube integration which may well have been the killer app we’ve been waiting for. The YouTube commenting system is so broken right now as to be sickening.  And those of us who have been waiting for an opportunity to abandon Facebook for good are once again left high and dry because Google lacks the competence to actually follow through on a social network. Disgusting.

    I hope I’m proven wrong. Really.

  • http://www.ferreemoney.com/ WordPress SEO

    Once G+ Business Pages goes live :: the SMB community will embrace more aggressively the G+ platform and use this web asset in the same way we use Google Places :: get found in the local SEPRs :: only this time, simple categories, citations, 10x pics and 5x videos won’t be the limit. I for one would bet that the biz plussers will over take the current techie crowd so long as the +1 rules of engagement are clear and obvious.

  • http://www.ferreemoney.com/ WordPress SEO

    Once G+ Business Pages goes live :: the SMB community will embrace more aggressively the G+ platform and use this web asset in the same way we use Google Places :: get found in the local SEPRs :: only this time, simple categories, citations, 10x pics and 5x videos won’t be the limit. I for one would bet that the biz plussers will over take the current techie crowd so long as the +1 rules of engagement are clear and obvious.

  • http://twitter.com/HathawayP Patrick Hathaway

    I pretty much agree. I got on the G+ beta relatively late, and only really because as I search marketer I felt obliged to check it out. I followed a few people from the world of search, and added the 1 other genuine ‘friend’ that was on there. I filled out my profile, but didn’t do a great deal more with it.

    Since then, there was the public launch, and very little has changed. 2 of my friends joined, yet neither has completed their profile. I have spoken to a few heavy Facebook users about it, and they didn’t even know what it was! Surely they are the market that G+ wants?? A community based platform does not work if the community ‘feels’ empty.

    I think the main problem is that since it seems to be trying to compete with Facebook, people end up asking themselves ‘can I be bothered to leave Facebook?’ And so far I believe the resounding answer is ‘no’. Facebook has integrated itself so well into the ‘normal’ web user’s regular behaviour that it will require something massive to overhaul it, as you mention above. But more importantly it has history – up to now this has only ever really been evident from the photos/tagging element (which I believe is a key element to Facebook’s success) but when Facebook launches Timeline to the public this will bring the historical element right into focus. And that is something that G+ simply cannot replicate.

    I agree with the sad fact that G+ may succeed as a result of SEOs – if Google makes +1s and sharing via G+ the predominant social signal (already seeing signs of this) then SEOs will do all the platform pushing for them. But I hope this is not the case and Google rewards deeper social integration and signals from ALL the major platforms out there.

    Realistically I can only see G+ having success in stealing the Twitter userbase, if anybody’s. I don’t think that Twitter has yet dealt with the age-old problem of a person’s ability to maintain a stable social relationship with more than 150 ‘connections’. And certainly on your timeline, there can be far too much ‘noise’. If G+ can make circles work properly they will potentially offer a better value proposition than Twitter. Then all they need to do is convince 200 million people they are right…

    • http://www.digitalquarters.net Ben Elowitz

      Great comment.

      • http://twitter.com/HathawayP Patrick Hathaway

        Thanks. I read this interesting article earlier about the impact on search:
        http://www.stepforth.com/blog/2011/powerful-google-profile-critical/Using things like the rel=author tag to increase CTR on the SERPS will definitely encourage search marketers to develop their profile, which can only really come from using G+ properly.

      • http://twitter.com/HathawayP Patrick Hathaway

        Thanks. I read this interesting article earlier about the impact on search:
        http://www.stepforth.com/blog/2011/powerful-google-profile-critical/Using things like the rel=author tag to increase CTR on the SERPS will definitely encourage search marketers to develop their profile, which can only really come from using G+ properly.

      • http://twitter.com/HathawayP Patrick Hathaway

        Thanks. I read this interesting article earlier about the impact on search:
        http://www.stepforth.com/blog/2011/powerful-google-profile-critical/Using things like the rel=author tag to increase CTR on the SERPS will definitely encourage search marketers to develop their profile, which can only really come from using G+ properly.

      • http://twitter.com/HathawayP Patrick Hathaway

        Thanks. I read this interesting article earlier about the impact on search:
        http://www.stepforth.com/blog/2011/powerful-google-profile-critical/Using things like the rel=author tag to increase CTR on the SERPS will definitely encourage search marketers to develop their profile, which can only really come from using G+ properly.

  • http://twitter.com/HathawayP Patrick Hathaway

    I pretty much agree. I got on the G+ beta relatively late, and only really because as I search marketer I felt obliged to check it out. I followed a few people from the world of search, and added the 1 other genuine ‘friend’ that was on there. I filled out my profile, but didn’t do a great deal more with it.

    Since then, there was the public launch, and very little has changed. 2 of my friends joined, yet neither has completed their profile. I have spoken to a few heavy Facebook users about it, and they didn’t even know what it was! Surely they are the market that G+ wants?? A community based platform does not work if the community ‘feels’ empty.

    I think the main problem is that since it seems to be trying to compete with Facebook, people end up asking themselves ‘can I be bothered to leave Facebook?’ And so far I believe the resounding answer is ‘no’. Facebook has integrated itself so well into the ‘normal’ web user’s regular behaviour that it will require something massive to overhaul it, as you mention above. But more importantly it has history – up to now this has only ever really been evident from the photos/tagging element (which I believe is a key element to Facebook’s success) but when Facebook launches Timeline to the public this will bring the historical element right into focus. And that is something that G+ simply cannot replicate.

    I agree with the sad fact that G+ may succeed as a result of SEOs – if Google makes +1s and sharing via G+ the predominant social signal (already seeing signs of this) then SEOs will do all the platform pushing for them. But I hope this is not the case and Google rewards deeper social integration and signals from ALL the major platforms out there.

    Realistically I can only see G+ having success in stealing the Twitter userbase, if anybody’s. I don’t think that Twitter has yet dealt with the age-old problem of a person’s ability to maintain a stable social relationship with more than 150 ‘connections’. And certainly on your timeline, there can be far too much ‘noise’. If G+ can make circles work properly they will potentially offer a better value proposition than Twitter. Then all they need to do is convince 200 million people they are right…

  • Rob

    Google has the resources to fight this battle for a decade…Slow and steady will win the social race.

    • http://www.digitalquarters.net Ben Elowitz

      While I think Google still has a shot – i.e. they are still in the race – I don’t think this is about resources.  Facebook has pretty great resources too.  Kodak, HP, Enron, Microsoft, RIM, and plenty of others have missed huge opportunities despite ample resources.  Winning in social is more about understanding the consumer than having lots of money. 

  • Rob

    Google has the resources to fight this battle for a decade…Slow and steady will win the social race.

  • Jack

    Here is an answer for “oh no one is using Google+” cry https://plus.google.com/113117251731252114390/posts/HiQNvcytue8

  • Jack

    Here is an answer for “oh no one is using Google+” cry https://plus.google.com/113117251731252114390/posts/HiQNvcytue8

    • http://twitter.com/HathawayP Patrick Hathaway

      Hmm, more an answer to ‘how do you find relevant people to add to your circles?’ At most it helps with G+ vs Twitter.

      Does not solve the G+ vs Facebook issue: ‘how do you get your friends on board?’
      Answer, as Ben says in his post, is for G+ to be a (much) better value proposition to the ‘everyday’ user. 

    • http://twitter.com/HathawayP Patrick Hathaway

      Hmm, more an answer to ‘how do you find relevant people to add to your circles?’ At most it helps with G+ vs Twitter.

      Does not solve the G+ vs Facebook issue: ‘how do you get your friends on board?’
      Answer, as Ben says in his post, is for G+ to be a (much) better value proposition to the ‘everyday’ user. 

    • http://twitter.com/HathawayP Patrick Hathaway

      Hmm, more an answer to ‘how do you find relevant people to add to your circles?’ At most it helps with G+ vs Twitter.

      Does not solve the G+ vs Facebook issue: ‘how do you get your friends on board?’
      Answer, as Ben says in his post, is for G+ to be a (much) better value proposition to the ‘everyday’ user. 

    • http://twitter.com/HathawayP Patrick Hathaway

      Hmm, more an answer to ‘how do you find relevant people to add to your circles?’ At most it helps with G+ vs Twitter.

      Does not solve the G+ vs Facebook issue: ‘how do you get your friends on board?’
      Answer, as Ben says in his post, is for G+ to be a (much) better value proposition to the ‘everyday’ user. 

  • Jack

    Here is an answer for “oh no one is using Google+” cry https://plus.google.com/113117251731252114390/posts/HiQNvcytue8

  • Jack

    Here is an answer for “oh no one is using Google+” cry https://plus.google.com/113117251731252114390/posts/HiQNvcytue8

  • Seth Goldstein

    You are completely nuts. Google+ is thriving. If you think that the 40+ million people aren’t active then you aren’t following the right people.

  • http://www.coydavidson.com/ Coy Davidson

    this article is dead on and before the Gplusians get their panties in a wad, it doesn’t mean it is going to stay that way but for now it’s accurate

  • http://profiles.google.com/adaddinsane Steve Turnbull

    Just added a circle of 500 people who are writing for NaNoWriMo – these are mostly non-techies who have found hundreds of like-minded people.

    The G+ nay-sayers are, I’m afraid, clueless of the truth of G+.

    I’ve given up FB and Twitter, who needs ‘em.

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