Why Google+ Lost Its Shine

Posted By Debbie on September 19, 2011

Categories: Social Media

Tags: facebook, google, twitter

When Google+ rolled out, I wanted to be one of the first ones on there. And I think I was. I felt like the lone woman when everybody wanted to talk about how male-dominated it was.

Immediately, Google+ seemed to resolve things I disliked about Facebook and Twitter (and I had mostly abandoned Twitter at that point). It made posting to or dealing with groups of friends ways easier than Facebook’s buried “Friends Lists,” and the 47 steps you had to go through to customise who can see something you post. It was more open like Twitter, but the conversation was linear whereas on Twitter, 10 people can reply to a tweet, and each has no idea that the other is replying. So I do prefer the Facebook style “conversation” rather than the disjointed tweets.

I added some friends, and a few Silicon Valley Big Names, just so I can see what’s going on. Nearly 100% of the posts were about Google+. It was the network that seemed to be built to discuss itself. Plus, with it being so limited in its early days, most of my Facebook friends weren’t there… so I still had to go to Facebook to hear what they were thinking. Apps didn’t have an API, so posting to Google+ required you to go to the web (or eventually, a mobile app), which meant that people were less likely to post. Reading Google+ requires the web or the app. It’s not a stream in my Hootsuite.

And most of the conversation was about Google+. From “who’s here” to “who’s not here” to “what genders are here in what ratios” to “why can’t I use a fake name” to “why does Google think my real name is a fake name” to “here is a list of photographers to follow” to “here is a list of everyone who works at Mashable since they’re not allowed to have a business page” to UGH, I was just waiting for real content. And waiting. And I’m still waiting. And I think I’ve given up.

The final irony was launching my new startup, posting that on Google+, and realising that I could only link people to our website, Facebook, or Twitter. No business pages on Google+ yet, so if you want to hang with us, it’ll have to be everywhere but Google+.

During the meanwhilst (as once said in a Monty Python sketch), Facebook took a look at Google+, and clearly said, “Holy cats, there are some GREAT features here that we should probably, finally get into our system.” And surprisingly quickly, you had new ways to deal with groups of friends and who can see your post. My Friendcaster Android app lets me pick from an easy menu who should see my post. The menu choices are: everyone, network and friends, friends of friends, friends only, pick the friends lists who can see this post, pick the friends lists that can’t see this post. Lots of choices, but hey, they make sense, and that’s really nice flexibility. It doesn’t go as far as Google+’s “pick individuals who can see this,” but I’m not sure that’s really needed.

Facebook introduced subscriptions, similar to following on Twitter or adding someone to a Google+ circle. I am hoping that Facebook is smart enough to ONLY show those people my public posts!!! Whew, yes, they only see your public posts. But you see where that’s going. If you are posting public things to Facebook, and people can subscribe and possibly comment, then you’re a few steps closer to not needing Twitter.

This is all getting very interesting. I’m glad I tried Google+. But I just don’t really see the need for it when I can’t connect to the people who interest me… because they’re either not there or not using it. Or not talking about much other than Google+!