Most people in my workshops have either not heard of Google+ or do nothing after signing up. They feel this way because like 850 million other people, they invested heavily in Facebook profiles Google’s new social network arrived. They lament, not another social network, another profile to update. Does anyone even remember Orkut?
Google+ launched in June 2011, 7 years after Facebook, and 8 years after LinkedIn opened their doors. What many South Africans may not know is that it’s the big G’s second attempt at social networking after the failure of Orkut launched in 2004. For me Google+ is not valuable because nobody cares enough to spend real time on it. When I post an update, I do not even look at who comments.
The value of a social network is proportional to the engagement from you and your network. So when you post and nobody responds, the value is low to almost nothing – there is no engagement without feedback or sharing. After listening to investor Roger McNamee during a Bloomberg (DStv channel 411) interviewed, it confirmed my original scepticism.
Before it launched to the public, you required a Google+ invitation to join. This was the same way Gmail launched, and it was a form of permission marketing (thanks Seth Godin) that worked for the email product. For Google+ it’s become more of a form of spamming people into creating profiles.
Bruce Mubayiwa, a LinkedIn consultant, thinks Google+ prospects could get more interesting as Google increases integration. He believes there are plans to weave in Google Analytics and this could increase usage of Google+ overall.
The key realisation is that managing multiple social networks is unproductive. In the 21st century time or attention is the most valuable resource, not gold or silver. Microsoft and Google face substantial challenges as global usage of the Web moves away from the Desktop to apps on smartphones and tablets. That means more and more Internet users bypass search engines because they engage from their Twitter or Facebook apps directly.
Google must do whatever it takes to catch-up with Facebook. People have agreed to give enormous amounts of personal information to Facebook. In return Facebook gives them an online social experience like no other. In contrast Google is not where you go to connect with your family or friends. You use it mostly to search for information, maybe send emails and get on with the favourite social network or shopping site.