I’ve been using Google+/Google Plus (either spelling seems to work) for nearly a month. However, I think it may have plateaued. I’ve invited many of my friends–if any reading this think I have forgotten to send them an invite, I apologize. But I’ve tried. I’m following a few different tech geeks on it, and one thing I’ve noticed is that out of the whole group I’ve got on Google Plus, 80% only have a few friends on it and thus, are not using it for any reason, and will not be compelled to replace Facebook with this any time soon.
My Facebook friends keep asking me on Facebook questions like “how much is Google paying you” or things like this, commenting under my profile picture that states I’ve moved to Google+. The idea is not to drive everybody over to it, (which I think they should do, anyway), but since they’re not there yet, I have to settle for the fact my best “audience” is over at Facebook. I feel the same way about using Apple vs. Microsoft. One may be better than the other, but for the time being, only the minority are using it. Same with the social media networks. But personally, I prefer Google’s so far.
I remember starting to use MySpace in early 2006, and it took me a LOT of getting used to at first. Learning the ecosystem, the difference between wall posts, bulletins, and inbox messages. Then in late 2006, I opened an account at Facebook and it took a lot of getting used to, because, well, it was NOT MySpace. My problem with adapting to Facebook, was I was treating it like it was the same thing as what I had been using previously for social networking, even though the two were comparable, but different ecosystems of how to do things. I think Google Plus is facing the exact same problem from the start if it’s ever going to become a significant rival to Facebook. People check it out, but because they can’t (or don’t know how) to do this or that like on Facebook, give up. That, and the lack of people even using it yet.
I’ve had friends ask me if I noticed something they’ve posted on Google+, thinking I’ve seen it, not realizing that using Circles enables users to share things only with those in that circle. Unlike on Facebook where you can privately message someone or post on their wall for all to see. Many are thrown off that there’s no wall on Google Plus. The other thing I keep seeing people repeatedly express disappointment with is their perception that, since there’s no wall, or no ‘inbox’ you can’t private message people.
Again, both of these are based on such familiarity with Facebook’s system, people are finding an easy to use service like its new rival hard to use, because they’re trying to use it the way they’ve used Facebook. No big deal, but that’s what’s going to make it difficult for people. By the way, there is a way to send a private message to someone–you just write it, but send it ONLY to them, and not a whole circle or publicly in your stream. It may take some getting used to, but it certainly isn’t hard to use.
At any rate, people were debating whether Facebook would ever outdo MySpace. I remember people saying the same things then about Facebook that they were saying back then about MySpace about three or four years ago. Do people really have that short of memories?
Keep in mind, Facebook started in 2004. It took YEARS before they toppled MySpace. Google Plus has only been online one month. Granted, in 16 days they’ve already reached the number of users Twitter and Facebook reached in their respective first 2 years. So Google Plus IS coming out of the gates on a stronger footing. But if the history of the Internet and social networking is anything to go by, it won’t change the game over night.
I give it at least 2 years, Then, let’s talk about whether to abandon one for the other. Word of mouth and people bringing their friends from one to the other will do the trick, but friends and internet geeks: that’s not going to happen if the only people using it are only using it to talk about Google Plus and tech stuff. The only things showing up in my news feed so far, are those types of posts, because as stated, my friends aren’t doing much on it. Yet.
One of Google Plus’s biggest hurdles, but yet also one of its strengths is that it is not, in fact, the same as Facebook. Not by a long shot, and the similarities are such that both are social, but the differences are vast enough that each has their own traits.
Everyone’s already on Facebook, and many don’t use Gmail. It’s true that a social network is no good unless your friends are on it too. But it has been a great tool for driving more traffic to my sites and meeting some new folk around the world who found my posts. I will give credit to Google Plus for that and how it’s helped level the playing field in SEO and searches for my writings. But otherwise, their social networking service has plateaued for me and I’ll wait for it to go public to really make a judgment about if I’ll use it that extensively or not.