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3 Reasons Google+ Will Fail

According to Paul Allen (founder of Ancestry.com) Google + surpassed 10 million users after only 2 weeks. These numbers may not be extremely accurate, but they seem to support the widely held belief that Google+ is gaining users quickly and it’s hard to deny the buzz coming from the likes of Mashable, the Twitterverse and countless other marketing and SEO blogs.

But after the tech-heads have their way with the beta release, will all the initial hype translate into long-term success for Google? Possibly not and here are 3 reasons why :

1. Average Joe Webuser doesn’t know about Google+!

With so many tech bloggers and early reviews praising Google+’s circles, and sleek design, it’s easy to forget that those of us who are early adopters and social media geeks are a relatively small portion of users. Even if we early adopters think something is really cool, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world will follow suit. In fact, outside my social circle of tech-heads, no one is talking about Google+. Seriously, no one, and If I bring it up in conversation, the response is usually, “Oh, is that Google’s Facebook?” They don’t know what it is. And, more importantly, they don’t have any reason to join – which leads to point #2:

2. Average Joe is on Facebook and doesn’t want / need another social network!

As much as we like to talk about the way that the entire world is super-jazzed about social media and always looking for new ways to connect with people, the reality is that most people joined Facebook because they were prodded into doing so by family and friends and probably check it once a day or a few times a week. The average social media user didn’t weigh all the pros and cons of all the social networks on the internet and decided Facebook was the best. They simply joined because that’s where all their friends and family were.

In fact, what surprised me the most when I cracked open by Google+ plus profile was how very few friends and family I saw in my potential circles list.

When you open up Google+ for the first time, Google mines your Gmail account to show you connections. The problem is, I never use Gmail to communicate with my friends; I use Facebook – and at this time I’m not ready to crack open my Facebook profile to Google’s crawlers!

As a result, most of the people suggested to be in my circles by Google are business acquaintances, people I applied for jobs with, and any number of others whom I barely know or care to connect with on a social level. As soon as Average Joe gets on Google+ and realizes few of his real-life friends are active users, there’s a good chance he’ll be done right there.

3. Google ain’t cool!

Google is kind of like your office IT manager. Sure, he’s useful when there is something wrong with your computer and you might have a pleasant conversation in the break room, but the relationship ends there. You don’t hang out after work because he’s a bit socially awkward and you have no interest in LARPing with him on the weekends.

Google’s brands are search and analytics. Pac-Man and Guitar doodles aside, Google’s not generally thought of as cool or sexy–which is a huge factor in whether or not people will join their club.

Although Facebook is still considerably less cool than it was back before your mom joined, it’s still a lot cooler than Google, mainly because you already know how it works and all your friends are already there.

Google + or Google – ?

It’s not that Google didn’t come up with a very slick social media platform or that Google+ doesn’t have cool, useful functionality – it did and it does. Selectively sharing via circles, and the nice clean intuitive profile design are well-documented homeruns for Google+’s designers. It’s just that battletested Facebook holds the high ground in this new looming battlefront.

Hordes of social media gurus, geeks and techies have taken the plunge into Google+, only to ask, “Where are all my Friends?”

The truth is, Avergae Joe Webuser has already invested time and effort into Facebook, where all his friends already hang out, where he’s already uploaded all his pictures and videos, and where he already plays Farmville and uses Goodreads. In the coming battle for the hearts and minds of Facebook’s users, Google may have forgotten the first rule of social media – you can’t be social by yourself.

Greg Buckskin earns his living writing about everything from technology to pop culture for Comcast.USDirect.com. Follow his writings and random web finds on Twitter

Posted in Social Networking. Tags: , , ,

27 Replies

  1. Tanner Christensen Jul 28th 2011

    Here’s what I percieve: Facebook didn’t just come in and overtake Myspace because they could. Facebook appeared when Myspace was becoming annoying and overcrowded by too much noise and nonsense.

    “Upgrading” to Facebook made sense at the time.

    But there’s no reason to “upgrade” to a different social network today. Not yet, anyway. Sure, Facebook has some privacy issues (and global domination may be just around the corner for them) but your point is right on: all of my friends are already there, why would I leave?

  2. Great points, It really does seems that Google+ is the Google’s Facebook, I don’t think that the average user needs another Facebook

  3. I’m with Tanner on this.

    Google+ doesn’t provide an upgraded user experience in any way to someone who is not tech-savvy or unfamiliar with Google’s other offerings.

    Facebook is dominant because they’ve secured their presence with the non-tech crowd. Google+, rather suspiciously, targeted tech-savvy users with their private invites system and that created a very tech heavy environment.

    I don’t trust the Google+ platform nor do I think it will be enough to dethrone Facebook anytime soon.

  4. I agree with what Tanner says about Facebook appearing when Myspace was becoming annoying. But I disagree with your second point. Although a ton of people still use Facebook, I’ve spoken to a good amount of people who are fed up with their changes and are looking for something new. The new facebook chat changes are annoying people and people are sick of the snotty Mark Zuckerberg. I am pretty excited for a new competitor, and maybe they won’t triumph over Facebook but I think they will get big fast. Facebook is trying to do too much now, Google+ is nice and simple.

  5. Greg Buckskin Jul 28th 2011

    So far the only people who seem excited about Google+ are fellow geeks and social marketers. Out of my “real life” friends, very few are actively sharing on Google+ and most seem to only have joined to take a look around and see what all the buzz is. They might share something once or twice, but very few have gone beyond that level of participation so far. I think at this point, Facebook will need to really drop the ball on some privacy issue in order to really start driving an exodus to other social platforms…

  6. sounds that Google + are better than Facebook. but it will be diffeculte to make all those FB users to something else now.. great post by the way!

  7. Bruce Jackson Jul 28th 2011

    Same here – I only have 5-10 of my real friends so far in Google Plus.
    For friends I still need Facebook and for colleagues / tech. info I still need twitter.
    I’m not going to write Google off yet (gmail also took a while to kill hotmail & co.) but also not investing much time building my circles for now.

  8. Michael Jul 28th 2011

    I am using Google & FB all day long and I can tell you this: I never touched or used in any way, the “Google +” feature. I don’t know why it is not appealing to me as a user.
    So here is one 6thw reason for this :)

    Thanks for shading some light on this matter.

  9. Michael Jul 28th 2011

    Is it me or Google trying to take over the internet…I also don’t think we need another social network as facebook…

  10. Divine @ Travel Wisconsin Jul 28th 2011

    Great post and points! I think Google is more appropriate than facebook, thou facebook has a large amount of users!

  11. Kyle Deming Jul 29th 2011

    Very insightful post and a great point. Everyone is talking about how Google+ reached so many millions of users so quickly. But with a service with the scale of Google (with multiple advantages – since they have gmail, google reader, google search, and all the rest), it’s no surprise they are able to get 10 or 20 millions users to try it out quickly.

    I don’t think it is the first 10 million or even the first 100 million users on facebook that are impressive – it’s the last 500 million. It’s all to easy for Google to reach the low-hanging fruit of tech enthusiasts. That doesn’t mean they’ll be able to reach the long tail and get everyone and their mother (literally) to sign up and use the service regularly.

  12. Custom Logo Design Jul 29th 2011

    Very interesting and informative article indeed. I have to admit that I always follow all news about Google +, so it was quite interesting to read this your post about this subject. Reading this your entry I have even noticed some new information which I haven’t known before. Thanks a lot for sharing this interesting post and I will be waiting for other great news from you in the nearest future.

  13. Custom essay writing service Jul 30th 2011

    Thanks for taking time for sharing this article, it was excellent and very informative it’s my first time that I visit here i found a lot of informative stuff in your article keep it up thank you.

  14. sanjay Jul 31st 2011

    Good point, I guess Google+ is for geek like you and me, not for average joe user. Anyway let’s see what Google will do.

  15. Kristina L. Jul 31st 2011

    You are right, absolutely!Finally someone seeing the big picture here. I also do not know for everyone outside the blogging circle who talks about google plus-I found it very weird, but the conclusion is very simple. Just because someone started the story and knows how to use this social network, doesn’t man that others are interested in it at all.

  16. Andrew Walker Aug 3rd 2011

    The one thing that will make Google+ fail, for me, is that Google still unable to remove the limitation. It is really annoying for someone who wants to sign up, but he/she can’t since they don’t get the invitation yet.

  17. For me, I just don’t like the idea of personalised search. I really just doesn’t serve any purpose for me. The end result is going to be that search favours more and more the sites I’ve seen and liked. But for me, and I suspect, most people, if I do a search it’s because the sites I’ve already visited and know will probably not have the answers I am looking for. And I really don’t care what sites most of my friends like, if they want to send me a link I might visit or I might not, but I don’t need their preferences coming up in the SERPs.

  18. Archanth Aug 5th 2011

    such an interesting topic to discuss. I want to say that this is the new services by Google . When facebook came into this web world there were some person only knew about facebook because its starting stage. by keeping this we cant say that it will go into (–),.

    But this is too one of the real fact that facebook users are using world wide and every day they finding some new kind of people and sharing some interesting topics. its too hard to get relieve from that place.

    We may think that Google and Facebook are competitor in social networking. But i am subspecies that still Google and Facebook keeping some friendship, why i am saying this is if anybody ask friend request one automated request mail goes to gmail account .

    So we cant say right now which one will come in leading. I think both will stand in best place in this world.

    by
    Archanth

  19. Damian Davila Aug 5th 2011

    Be ready for Google Buzz v. 2.0.

  20. points make sense, but i really don’t care about users. i’m fine with leaving the software inept, high school associates in the facebook past. event invites and application spam are becoming ridiculous, therefore the circles and on/off timeline ability is useful.

    so yes, google+ isn’t for everybody. but the facebook features get worse every day.

  21. Web Marketing Soup Aug 16th 2011

    Hmmm, I’m not sure I agree with you on this one! I think that Google+ takes the things that the other networks do well and combine them into one and add a little bit.

    Google+ is the ultimate content-delivery network and I think that is where it will find its niche.

    I also think it’s a little too early to tell how effective the platform will be because they’re still adding features. But it’s definitely clear that it’s a streamlined, simple network that offers a lot more that the other networks on their own.

  22. Nicole Scott@PR News Wire Sep 30th 2011

    This is not true because it isn’t making a difference between twitter and unlike Facebook . However the points are making the sense , but i really don’t care about users . I am fine with leaving the software inept .

  23. Ana @ Bounce rate Nov 13th 2011

    I still believe G+ makes a huge difference to internet marketers; its effect on rankings alone should make us want to use it.

  24. Damian Davila Nov 28th 2011

    “What’s the chance you think that 3 or 5 years from now Google+ really takes share from Facebook? Under what circumstances would that happen?”

    Sean Parker answered:

    It’s very tough to compete with network effects. I think that the way network effects work in a social networking context… in order to get the same value from a Facebook-like service, you’d first have to switch all your friends and you’d have to ensure that they actually switched but then each of those people would have to switch their friends because networks are all about interacting with your friends. If all of their friends didn’t also switch, your friends would drift back to the original service and likewise for the friends of the friends of the friends. So you have this exponential switching cost when the network is at scale. So I think it can happen. Obviously, it happened from MySpace to Facebook, but it requires systematic, consistent product execution over a long period of time and I think it also requires the systematic failure on the part of the incumbent network. So Facebook would have to screw up royally and Google would have to do something really smart.

  25. newlaunchsingapore Apr 15th 2012

    People need a reason to switch; Google+ needs to offer something that Facebook doesn’t. The average social media user didn’t weigh all the people of all the social networks and decide Facebook was the best. They simply joined because that’s where all their friends and family were. This is a very nice page. I will get to know more new information. Thanks for this article!

  26. Zoe Alexander May 3rd 2012

    I use Google+ and Facebook and definitely use them in different contexts! G+ is probably more brand dominant at the moment whereas FB is a more ‘friends networking’ base! Who knows which way G+ goes but I’m happy to have both!

  27. Greg Buckskin Jul 2nd 2012

    Well here we are a full year with Google+. My opinions still haven’t changed too much. What does everyone think about Google “plusifiying” everything across all their products?


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