The Google Plus Social Media Failure, Now Jeopardizing Google Itself

We hoped, we prayed, we begged, but despite our desire for something to compete with Goliath Facebook, the writing is on the wall. You may recall that weeks before Google Plus was even announced I wrote about this situation. I stated that the future of social media is NOT more networks, but rather tools that make the current graph more effective via relationship management.

Low and behold, here came Google Plus. Privately (with my personal contacts) along with some public Facebook arguments I was berated for my prediction of the failure of Google’s third inroad into the game. I came out of the closet a few weeks ago and openly made my prediction known via my post Three Reasons Google Plus is Facing Difficulties.

Boy, did I take a lot of heat for my view on this.  However, based on some of  the latest information, it appears my anecdotal evidence is starting to be reported by others that track this sort of thing. On Thursday, 89n.com reported that posts by Google+ users are down 41% during the period of July 19th – August 19th. Without any delight, I still gotta say – I told you so…

Here’s the big problem for our friend Google…  Their core business of throwing ads is in major jeopardy. Bing is gaining traction in the search space and the overall search market is declining due to users patterns within social media. Google has made so many major mistakes, not least of which is recognizing the effect of social media on their business model and making changes early to adapt. Early on with Google Plus, I said more than a few times, “We just saw Google Tap out”, borrowing a term from MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). How come I was the only one who saw this or was willing to say it publicly?

So based on the future prospects of Google continuing to do the same things, yet expecting different results, I have a 5 step business plan that someone with some senses on the Google board should listen to seriously…

1) Fire the CEO and lead management that pushed the Google Plus idea internally. This is inexcusable. Three failed attempts in the same massively dominated space. Fresh blood with fresh ideas and a better understanding of the social graph is badly needed within this organization.

2) Spin off Android into its own company. One of the best things with legs that Google has created is the Android OS. This clearly is giving Apple iPhone a run for its money and is currently seeing incredible growth gains exceeding their competitor. Spinning this business off into its own company will give Google the ability to have a win (retained stock in the business), and enable them to focus on what’s ahead for the company.

3) Sign deals with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to never try to compete via another social network again. If Google is going to survive the continued online changes, they will HAVE to be on friendlier terms with these giants in the social space. Suck it up and get it done.

4) Develop a socially tweaked web search. Once you have done deals with the big boys above, there is a big opportunity to better incorporate search and social media. Creating ways to deliver search results that are highly social media leveraged is where Google has an opportunity. Converging results of web properties along with influence and content within the social graph is not only interesting and valuable, it is where things are going. This will give Google something truly unique in the social space, but also create a new social media optimization angle and connection with the millions of SEO people out there that would immediately push the changes to their clients worldwide.

Furthermore, creating an API that keeps the +1 button, allowing people to easily like something to Facebook, as well as tweet it to twitter with one click provides user value that will cross all markets, resulting in additional traffic and add delivery opportunities.

5) Develop social tools that facilitate the proliferation of social media management, marketing and commerce. As I mentioned in a previous post, Google should have and now needs to lead in the supporting technologies for the new web. Integrating data from Buzz, Gmail and G+, Google is positioned better than anyone to quickly develop a social CRM for everyone!

I know this is a very controversial post and will no doubt have the anti-Facbook, Google+ lovers up in arms and out for my head. If you lay down your battle-ax and look it this situation realistically, Google is on the ropes and needs a major shift in business focus, leadership and development direction.  No doubt, you have some thoughts, let’s hear it…

71 Comments

Filed under Facebook, Google, Google Plus, Social CRM, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Twitter

71 responses to “The Google Plus Social Media Failure, Now Jeopardizing Google Itself

  1. I agreed with your post that predicted failure for G+. However, I didn’t think it would happen this quickly. You’ve hit the nail on the head with this one, Rob. Google needs to stop trying to reinvent the wheel and focus on some of the things they do best – search and the Android OS. Stick with those two ideas and let your efforts work on their foundations. A social CRM? Now that’s a great idea.

    Thanks for the post, Rob.
    @bar2cci

    • Thanx Andrew. I appreciate your comments and vote of confidence. :-)

      Robert

    • This article is a critical example of what happens when you write with out doing research or analyzing trends.
      So google+ was down 41%, so Facebook and Twitter had a decrease during that same time period right?
      The time of the year dicated low user engagment by users, that along with the fact that Google+ does not have the automated posting features that exist in Facebook and Twitter would likely account for the large drop off. Try reading http://dbmei.com.
      I not going to attack you opinion on Google+ having issues, but “failure” and “jeopardizing” are words that are well beyond the scope of you content and mostly due to your lack of data or ability to… well I leave it at that for now.
      Try reading http://dbmei.com.

      • Basil, thanx for your input. But correct me if I am wrong, G+ didn’t have automated posting features BEFORE that period either. So your logic is a bit misguided. We can agree to disagree and I am very confident in my prediction as a result of my use of the tech itself, my reach in the social graph and the thousands of contacts I know personally that have abandoned their accounts. Furthermore, if you actually think that 750 million of the current 800+ million will “switch” regardless of added functionality to G+ (average users – the non-geeks), then you are very mistaken.

        Thanx for the view point and comments. Time will tell…

        Robert

      • Robert,
        Really impressed with you allowing the comment, I was watching the release for the open of google plus to the masses for beta when I read your article. Needless to say I to was a bit harsh, but I thought you would have given more thought to the numbers rather then publish them without any reference to why. I think the why is important, everytime we take numbers and publish them we really should give more thought to how and why those results or stats are showing up. I do agree we disagree, the biggest support that I put behind why I think Google+ is in a safe place and google itself is going no where anytime soon… mobile… facebook is far to slow to adapt to mobile and google cloud, apps and social is all built around mobile. The google hangouts going mobile on Android 2.3 devices pretty much just set the standard for business tools in mobile settings and may even change the face of distance learning. Google+ has a way to go but Google is not going anywhere, facebooks panic mode to try and match it with the new updates clearly shows that even facebook sees it as a threat.
        I will say bravo, your earned my respect by allowing my post and position and am looking forward to following some of your puture posts.
        http://digitalbrandmarketing.com/2011/09/20/google-is-open-to-all-and-google-leading-mobile-development/

      • We can disagree and still dialogue and have a great relationship. I’m Italian. Grew up throwing down with my Pops (my best friend) and seconds later hugging and always loving each other. It’s how it is. I am honored to have the feedback and conversation and welcome more!

        Peace!

        Robert

  2. Great post thanks for the insight. Usually collaboration produces more while avaricious competition often results in losses all around

  3. I agree that Google+ looks like it’ll fail, but I don’t agree with your reasons. I actually think what they’ve provided with Google+ is a strong offering and people are willing to switch if given good enough reasons to.

    The problems I see with Google+ are two-fold:

    1) Requiring Real names. I go by “TechyDad”. If I set my Google+ profile to “TechyDad”, they’d kick me off. Not only that, but then I’d lose access to Reader and other Google services I use. Why not let people assign pseudonyms to their circles? Everyone in my “blogging” circle could see me as TechyDad while my “family” circle would see my real name. It shouldn’t be hard to do and would solve the naming issue.

    2) 3rd party client access. I can manage my Twitter stream within Seesmic or a dozen other 3rd party tools. I don’t need to go to Twitter.com. So why not release an API to allow clients to read/write to Google+ (with proper authorization, of course). The API they released was read-only. So you can have a client show you your stream, but you can’t post or respond to it without going to Google+. I’m not going to spend my limited social media time bouncing between a dozen different sites to enter information.

    If they could fix these two items (which don’t seem hard to do), they might just have a chance to succeed. If they don’t, though, their latest effort is doomed to failure.

    • Hi TechyDad,
      I think you make solid points, but I don’t agree that those are why Goggle+ is struggling. The fact is, the masses of people don’t mind using real names and don’t use third party API’s to maange their social media. The masses use Facebook directly (the platform I think Google+ was most hoping to compete with), and use their real names while doing so. No the reason Google+ is failing is because the masses of people are not motivated enough to give up Facebook for Google+, and they won’t just add another network. My impression thus far has been that the draw of Goggle+ to date has mostly been with people who are more tech-savvy, social media savvy, or some other first-adopter audience. These folks will take an an additional network if it’s got enough cool tools or features. But real growth and adaptation has to cause the masses to give up one thing for the new one, and for the average eevrday user, that’s noty going to happen with Google+.

      I do love the dialog, though!

      Robert, great post. I’m with you 100%, and I too wrote a blog post predicting the demise of Google+ (3 Reasons Google+ Will Fail http://bit.ly/qTBPcS). I’ve also had conversations with people who vehemently insist it won’t, but I saw the drop-off in traffic as well (though I haven’t seen it lately because I’ve stopped using it myself).

      • Love it! Thanx for the input Pat… I agree, the dialogue is awesome!

      • JenRave

        The Real names policy *is* actually a huge barrier to many people. Hidden within the problem are people like myself, who signed up, used their real name, AND WERE THEN SUSPENDED ANYWAY. Why? Because a part of my real name did not fall into the format they wished, which is first name and last name only, no initials, no other punctuation, no “strange characters”. Problem – nobody I know calls me by my first and last name only, everyone calls me by my legal middle name, so I put that up along with my first name, which also has an apostrophe in it – so I was suspended.
        They said I can have my profile back by sending them a scanned copy of my ID. They are blaming everyone who doesn’t wish to send scanned copies of their ID to google for not getting their accounts reinstated after having been falsely banned.
        Most users in Hong Kong can no longer access the site as a result.

      • WOW! Have not heard of this issue. What a mess and bad PR for a system that already has an uphill battle ahead. Sorry Jen, I bet that is frustrating! Thanx for the information.

      • Pat I 100% agree with you insight. I was actually just writing a post today having to do with the fear of change in Facebook users. I personally think a big reason for Google+ failing is that the users they want to target are too comfortable with Facebook and don’t want to learn the new platform. This along with several other things Robert pointed out.

        Here’s my quick post if ya want to read :) http://meganswage.com/2012/09/19/twitter-changes/

  4. Unlike the rest of the crowd I’ve been on your page since the beginning. I saw no new intrinsic value in G+, and – we were right. If you just offer a different flavor of the same-old same-old you get – nothing. No traction. In the end this could be the Droid’s downfall too (though it will take longer). They don’t really offer anything all that new in the mobile space. Functionally a Droid and an iPhone are pretty darn similar. They do have a better strategy for openness, and the vast advantage of being able to run on hardware not controlled by Apple, but in the end they’re not doing a lot that Apple isn’t already doing. I’m looking for a new innovative interface, and frankly haven’t seen it. The Mango OS comes closest with it’s use of Tiles instead of icons.

  5. Finally, someone who thinks like me! ;) I, too, was extremely hesitant to believe that G+ was going to be the Facebook killer. I joined on day 2 and was underwhelmed with what I got, but because of the nature of the platform, it was all about Google love. It would make me soooo mad how those Google lovers were always bashing Facebook & talked about G+ as being the end-all, be-all. I got tired of it pretty quickly. Three months later, I’m still waiting for it to come out of Beta so that the rest of the world can figure it out for themselves. Google has had every opportunity to make this foray into social media stellar and on every single occasion has failed – Google Buzz, anybody? Add to that the fact that they hadn’t and have yet to implement business pages is more proof that there is no way they will be able to compete with Facebook. As someone who manages pages for businesses, G+ has proved useless to me. Plus, the more they prolong the wait, the more I tend to forget it’s there. I haven’t logged in to G+ in a very long time & I know that I’m not missing anything. That’s sad. Especially when I’m constantly checking Facebook, since, you know, that’s where all of my friends are. Great post! I, just like you, never full jumped on the G+ bandwagon & I don’t think I ever will.

  6. I couldnt agree with you more on Google Plus. When people would ask me about Google Plus and what its about/like, they best way to explain it was that its like trying to re-learn how to ride a bicycle, but for some reason now there is a third pedal. In the mean time you have your perfectly good regular bicycle (Facebook) that you ride everyday in the garage. I put it in terms of bicycles because, well, we are from Portland. Embrace Android, Google, and keep making strides in the mobile market. Great blog Robert!

    • AprilS

      LOL. “but for some reason now there is a third pedal.”
      That is a great analogy. I don’t know though, part of me feels like it’s only one pedal. I literally have one person (a celebrity, because I didn’t have many friends on it at first and it told me to add folks) who actually comments on it. It’s very boring to know that’s the only person I’ll be seeing if I log on, so I rarely do. I have nearly 1,000 friends on Facebook, and I interact with several of them regularly, so it’s not that I don’t know folks. I just don’t know folks who want to abandon their perfectly fine “bike” for a less appealing one with a “third pedal.” haha.

  7. Jim W

    Wow are you reading the same things I am reading? My Google+ circles are more active with more people joining, though less of us have anything to say to “Public” which is what the statistics you are quoting are based on. I average almost 5x more posts in my streams than I did a month ago, with better content and more meaningful data available in each post. Sadly what I say is, you look for rating via doom and gloom sayings as you haven’t actually done any true research. leg up and join the Google + true experiment or stop talking about it like you know what is happening or understand it.

  8. Robert – interesting post. I really like G+ but I know it’s doomed. I find G+ to be 100 times more intuitive than Facebook. Not that it matters, but I also think it looks much better. However, better doesn’t necessarily mean you win. If it did, VHS would’ve lost out to Beta. People are comfortable with Facebook. People aren’t going to leave Facebook, but that’s kind of beside the point. The real Facebook killer may be MySQL. Check out this article http://gigaom.com/cloud/facebook-trapped-in-mysql-fate-worse-than-death/ – at any rate, you make good points about Google’s problems with social. They are the king of search, and I continue to be amazed that they haven’t worked harder at integrating seamlessly with existing social giants. Yes, I know I am the odd man out for “liking” G+ more than Facebook. However, I am a two things: 1) a pragmatist, and 2) in the people business. For those reasons, I will have a FB account for as long as there is a Facebook.

    • Jason, I think we are on page. I too am not a Google or Google Plus hater, but I am a business man and a marketer and what they have done/are doing makes no sense. If you want to find me and engage, I will be on Twitter/Facebook as well. :-)

      Robert

      • Oh I know where to find you Robert LOL

        Here’s the thing: I am a little worried that we are now judging the viability of social networks on there ability to be exploited for the purposes of marketing. While I certainly don’t have a problem with marketing on social networks, I don’t find it to be a necessary ingredient.

      • Jason,

        I appreciate your thoughts here, however I need to bring to your attention that it is called social media for a reason. Without revenue and market ability, there is no reason for existence nor is it a viable business endeavor to create. Just sayin…

  9. I think there are people in circles on Google + that are working because they’re groups of people that are connected to a similar business or interest. But it seems limited to me as a social network like Facebook. I am on Google + and find it very limiting in many ways because my friends and family aren’t there. Who will I communicate with? I think they alienated a lot of people who weren’t “invited” plus it’s not as easy to navigate as Facebook. I don’t want to have to figure something else out, especially when I have a social network that works for me. Google + did give FB a lot of ideas that I’m thankful for.

  10. Google needs to drop out of the “me-too” school of innovation. They are never going to be able to out-Facebook Facebook; how many strikes before you get that you’re out? As you note, they’d be far better served to look at other areas of the customer experience in the huge and expanding social media realm where they could truly make a difference.

  11. KC

    But Google is an advertising company. No ads, no money.

    Facebook is moving in and may start selling more ads than Google. Google has to disrupt or knock Facebook down if it hopes to continue dominating online ads.

    Google search is by far their strength but they only make money through the ads.

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  13. I totally agree with you and have from the beginning that Google+ just wasn’t going to succeed as wildly as some people thought. Google may be a force to be reckoned with, but the only reason it got so popular is because it’s GOOGLE!

    It’s a search engine, their business is to track people’s habits, they’ve even admitted that that’s what they’re using Google+ for; tracking. So it’s shouldn’t be surprising that people are getting so pumped about Google+, then when they finally get in, they say, “Ok….now what?”

    I checked Google+ for the first few weeks and posted only a couple times. And I kept thinking, “Maybe it’ll pick up when more of my friends get there.”

    But nope. Even as people added me, I just could not get into it.

    Google should stick with what its good at: being a search engine. There are many variables that Google does at being a search engine, like helping small businesses, which is what makes them awesome. They are awesome at what they do and trying to repeatedly join the social stratosphere and failing so many times, should really tell them to quit it and just stick with improving their search engine.

    I hear that Google+ has success in some niche’s, like photography, and even though I may not quite understand why, I say kudos to those who are getting great use out of it!

    I don’t think they should get rid of Google+. It apparently has its niche markets and that should be good enough for them.

    Cheers!

  14. 1.If more people were ready to adopt into the cloud Google would probably be a winner. I think Google was trying to create a social network that would integrate well with all their properties. Most of those are cloud based so it stands to reason that they need people ready to take to those services.

    2.As long as FB and other social networks that have been around longer can add the same features, Google hasn’t offered anything novel enough for people to switch.

    I think G+ is really useful for a small set of people, at least right now. Google is innovative and I think they could save it.

  15. EXCELLENT post and right on point. Largely due to your influence I never joined the bandwagon. I had a heated debate on LinkedIn with connections that swore I was missing the boat. G was Buzz Lightyear but we already had Woody!

  16. Underwhelmed, like another commenter said, is the word I’ve most used to describe G+. Not a good word to describe what is supposed to be “the next big thing”. There is nothing compelling about it, and I agree that this, coupled with the flop of Buzz, makes one shake his/her head at who keeps pushing these initiatives at Google.

  17. Interesting timing for your post. Today Google+ launched its release to the general public.

    The story is far from over, and far too early to call.

    • Pretty interesting no? I love the new hangout stuff, just wish it was a stand alone product not a social network feature. The challenge they still have beyond the GUI and other awesome geeky features we all like is that the average user will never “switch”. Been saying this since they launched. My folks, daughter, and the other 750 million average social media users aren’t going to do it. That leaves Google in a very bad situation and no cool features are going to change that fact. A BIG problem…

      Thanx for the comment man…

  18. Pingback: Google+ is Open to ALL and Google+ Leading Mobile Development « Digital Brand Marketing Education

  19. Brian

    I think the end result is that for most ordinary users, such as myself, there is no real reason to switch. All I want from a social media site is the ability to communicate with my friends and people I know. All of them are already on facebook. Out of all the people I know only a few have made google+ accounts, and those few still are checking facebook. Why would I want to switch? The clubs I am a part of all have their pages on facebook, my friends are there, my family… in that respect google+, regardless of how innovative, just can’t compete. Most people I’ve spoken to think along the same lines of me: they just don’t see all of their friends as going to switch over so they aren’t bothering to either. I’ve no doubt Google+ will have devoted users, but I’m doubtful that it will make a huge dent in facebook’s traffic, particularly after the first few months of open access are over.

  20. I have to agree with Brian above. I drop in to Google+ everyday on the off chance I find something interesting, but the reality is that it offers me less at the moment than Facebook and most of the people I connect with aren’t there. It also currently offers nothing for businesses which is a real drawback for me. I’ve not abandoned it because it does have some features I like and I assume that as time goes on it will improve but I can’t see it supplanting Facebook any time soon.

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  22. vito andolini

    You have done an excelent work in your analysis. Just let me add that there is one more important reason that will cause g+’s failure: the people is too much used to use facebook, they will hardly change it.

  23. I’m not entirely sure why you think that just because Google+ isn’t working as well as it needs to be that the entire company needs to be torn apart. First, regardless of how well google is doing with google+ it’s a required step for google. Google has to leverage all the platforms it has to increase its ad revenue. That’s the only thing it has. Google needs to be in social networking at some level to push it’s other products. They are trying to get into the local advertising with having purchased Zagat. They will try to leverage that to get more usage on Google+.

    Firing the current management team would kill Google. The leaders are the soul of the company. The current CEO is one of the founders. Getting rid of them would really upset their users.

    Android is the future for Google. Eric Schmidt predicted a few years ago that mobile ads was a potential source of up to 10 billion in revenue. The combination of Google, Android and Ads is where google needs to be to continue hitting expectations. Dropping Android would be the most foolish thing that Google can do.

    Google should not make any deals with Facebook, twitter or linkedin. Google has the opportunity to make a space that is more private, more trusted and better for users than Facebook. I hardly use facebook because of the privacy concerns with their cookies, their patent on using cookies to track users and their most recent redesign. it’s terrible. I can’t find anyone that I’m interested in reading and my personal content has been relegated and has impacted my blog traffic

    As it is there are plenty of tools that allow for searching of data on both facebook and twitter. Google already does this.

    As another note google is killing buzz and a large number of applications to allow a focus on things like improving search and social media.

    I think that another tack on Google+ might be useful but does not require a complete dismantling of Google. That’s ridiculous.

    • You’re welcome to your view Ryan, however I believe you are highly misguided and naive to think that three failures in an industry is alright or that more of the same from a leadership team in a dying industry will somehow save a company. Peace.

  24. Great post Robert, thank you for sharing!

  25. Ashley

    I never visit or use Google+ before so I can’t really see it as failure by simply judging from its feature or so. But I kind of agree with Ryan above that I think Google use it as leverage and competing with FB on number of users was never Google’s best interest from the beginning. Changing in the IT market is fast-paced; I will assume that Google, as one of pioneer in the industry, has a bigger plan behind all of its moves. Customers never know what they want until someone provide it, in my opinion, creating similar one is a fine beginning, Google just need to bring out more motives and products to break people’s behavior pattern in IT market like Apple did to the mobile phone market.

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  27. I wonder why this blog has not a G+ option? ;-)

  28. Elvin

    Google+ is like screaming in the desert. It’s redundant and I reckon nobody needed it in the first place…People in this and other blogs complain about not putting effort into it. But we don’t “work” social networks unless we “work” in them. I am very skeptic about the future of these networks because the marketing people are wallpapering it with ads. I will not “like” any other company for now unless I reap benefits from it.

  29. Pingback: Why is Google Plus Failing and You Will Stop Using It | OxRun LLC

  30. Interesting post, Robert, but I think that you’re missing Google’s intent for G+.

    While they’ve been marketing it as a social network, I think they really are really just building it out as a hub for all of their other services. They are migrating all of the personal profiles from all of their other entities (Android, GPlay, GMail, YouTube, etc.) into one centrally-located entity – G+.

    As Google is developing their search platform to factor in social (insight) results, as you mentioned they must do, they need a unified platform for their data, and they are using G+ to accomplish that.

    So Google doesn’t need people to use G+ as a social network – if people use any Google products, that data will naturally feed into G+.

    • No I think you are missing the point. Myself and quite a few others no longer use Google search since the search results are so skewed and no longer organic. Further, people are not wanting Big Brother, they want ease and results. Google has ensured that with the change of their user agreements, they are both big brother, controlling everything AND made search the biggest gamed results on the web! Not what users are wanting… They messed up BIG!

  31. Making a deal with Facebook is a like George Bailly selling out to Mr. Potter. Did you really mean to say that? Really?
    My opinion for the reason Google+ is failing: Marketing (Ugh) and design. That’s why it failed. Period. It sounds reductionist and cynicle but you can sell a product far worse than Google+ (insert your most hated musical band of the month here). The angle they went for was arogant and the interface on which it was given to us was boring and lacking in any persoanlity. They assumed that everyone who hates Facebook (most intelligent people) would come on over to Google. They did in part (this is why I disagree with you. Many people did want an alternative)-but not enough people came along all at once which made it feel that you were shouting in a canyon when just down the road all your friend were at the saloon. People were ready to switch over but there wasn’t enough of a personality put into it. People need to feel an emotional connection to something. The design was cold, the “by invitation only” was cold and once you got there, there wasn’t anything to hold you there. New design, new campaign done right for the right reasons (Facebook is evil) and you could have a winner. All these techy reasons just don’t fly with me. People just want a place where they can be narcicistic, share the the things they like and hold on to the illusion that they are keeping in touch with people and life.

  32. Pingback: The Google Plus Social Media Failure, Now Jeopardizing Google Itself | Social Media - what next? | Scoop.it

  33. “Jeopardizing” is a completely fair word. By forcing users to have a G+ account to leave a local business review, Google is isolating users who value anonymity and placing professionals in healthcare, financial, and legal fields at risk for violating compliance laws that restrict public acknowledgement of confidential relationships.
    Partnerships with other social networks will loosen the reigns allowing more people to leave reviews that actually get displayable ratings. Marissa Mayer was a strong advocate for tying social influence to search results. Time for Google to step up and befriend their enemies.

  34. I always love how you throw it out there Robert. We have had G+ conversations before, I appreciate many of your statements. I must bring attention to how much I strongly agree with your suggested revisions. That is the power of this post, how to improve G+.

    Google’s big bully mentality goes against the grain of social sharing. The convergence of social and search is here… now. I’ll be honest I post my blogs and occasionally share articles because it directly effects search results. While I try and benefit from that, I think it potentially effects their credibility as search engine.

    Kudos once again for being willing to take a stance and be vocal about it.

  35. Okay, I’ll bite. I also scratched my head when I first saw Google+. The experience was underwhelming and there wasn’t anything that much better than Facebook and/or twitter to get me to switch over to it. And there was never a critical mass of my friends involved to make it worth it. Similarly, as others have said above, I can’t update it with HootSuite, tweetdeck, etc., so my page has always been pretty barren. Also, it’s harder than it should be to build presence for a non-person such as a business or organization. So as weak as Google was on the concept, they’ve failed on the execution in too many ways.

    (wait for it…wait for it…) that said, (there it is!) I have to disagree that the whole Google+ enterprise has been a folly for Google, or rather to say, we don’t know yet. Yes, Facebook is unquestionably the king of social media, and they’re a threat to Google’s core advertising plays. But I’m sure we’ve all read that famous “RIP Apple” article from 12 years ago, (if you haven’t, go find it. In hindsight, it’s a howler) Look at Apple circa 1999. Yes, the candy-colored iMacs were pretty and trendy, but Microsoft had just too much market share in operating systems. It was a matter of time before the company folded.

    We all know how that turned out – Apple basically created the smartphone and digital music player as we know it, but more importantly, it has given MS a real run for its money in the land of operating systems. As MS has learned, it’s really tough being #1 and staying there. A few missteps and people start to leave you. Quickly. Take a company like Facebook, huge market share, vastly underperforming stock (at least against the hyped expectations they helped create), increasing demands to monetize and generate more revenue. Pressure’s on. Will they have a Vista moment this decade? Some calamity that makes people bolt? Maybe not, but it sure seems possible.

    What does it cost Google to keep G+ alive and running? As a percentage of their business? I suspect not much. Take a step back from the “what’s the plan/reaction this week?” mindset so typical in tech and finance and take a longer view, something Google’s financials give them the luxury of doing. they could quietly work to improve the platform. Wait for technological changes such as augmented reality or better geolocative search. Wait for Facebook to have their Vista moment. Be perfectly positioned to step in when they do.

    Your point about google loosing ads to facebook is certainly accurate, but let’s face it, Facebook is losing ads to facebook. They’re obviously struggling to figure out ways to generate more revenue without pushing away users. Google makes money in ways beyond paid search and ads. Could we see a time when facebook puts the cash squeeze too hard on users and they flee for a platform that makes money without being so pushy for money? Yeah, we sure could. Could Google create the platform they flee too? Yeah, they sure could.

    I am in no way suggesting any of this will happen or that this is all some master Google strategy. By most any measure, Google+ has been a disappointment to date. But if we’re talking a long war, and asking which side is better built to prevail in the long war, I wouldn’t write off Google just yet.

  36. I really enjoyed this article. I do agree with you across the board.

    I never really warmed up to Google+ and I have to say, there was really no reason too, IMHO. If you are not radically changing the experience, like FB did versus MySpace, then there is no point to switch. I know, as you stated, there are a lot of Google+ users that would vehemently deny this but the numbers don’t like. If the service isn’t compelling enough users over, that means that those that were there that were not raving about it or urging their friends to go there (as Facebook adoption resulted in back in the day), then you have your proof.

    Look forward to reading more!

  37. David Ferguson

    So what would you have to say now that Youtubes subscribers have been hijacked for Google+

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