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Google +, another tombstone for the social media graveyard?

Posted in: Marketing, sales and PR, Social media
595 comment

MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Google Wave, Google Buzz, Ping.

All brand names that meant something once, some of which had tens of millions of users in the online social space, all have something else in common; they tried to be David to Facebook’s Goliath and came off worse.

All of them brought something new to the online social space, a different way to interact with other members, a quirky feature or niche focus. All of them also went the way of the Dodo (barring a few clingy tumbleweeds), and most of those features have been aped by Facebook.Google+

The reasons for their failures are varied, but the end result is the same. Facebook continues to dominate our online social interactions, and with the external feed integration changes Facebook announced at F8, it seems they want to become the landing page for your entire internet experience.

There have been contenders who have stuck it out though; Twitter is a great example of a social network which has managed to hold its own. Whether this is because of its success as a high speed news delivery platform, or the inherent simplicity of the user interface, Twitter for now, can stand alone.

Facebook fatigue?

Google + has come at an interesting time, there is research showing that we are experiencing ‘Facebook fatigue’ due to extensive media coverage, data ownership and regular security setting modifications. Facebook’s latest UI revision has also been met with significant criticism, though Facebook has weathered similar storms in the past. This has all come to the fore at the time that Google + has gone from ‘invitation beta’ to public launch.

What Google + has brought is an interesting way to controlling your content distribution and a smart UI, which allows you to very precisely control what is visible to whom when you post content. Another feature is a multi-user video chat function called Hangouts. Google have also cleverly integrated Google + into the menu bar of their main search engine page, thereby exposing it to users on over 90 million searches a day.

Whether neat functionality and high levels of exposure will be enough to keep Google + above water are questions that only time can tell the answer to. Google + has grown very quickly, in fact it is estimated to have over 20 million users already, which far outstrips the performance of any of Google’s previous attempts to enter the social space. The problem is that Facebook at current estimates has 800 million users, 50% of which will check their profile every day.

The new Facebook

Personally I think Google + has an uphill challenge in front of it; Facebook has already integrated Subscriptions and Lists, which mimic Circles, so the question is does Google have anything else in the toolbox? To me the classic error of any new social media website is to try and ‘be the new Facebook’, not because the site itself might not be up to scratch, but because users are lazy and don’t like change.

Having been using Google + for a couple of months now, I’m still undecided. There are parts I’m really fond of, like the clutter free UI and parts I really dislike, such as the people finder. The latest figures show a thirteen-fold growth in traffic to Google + since their public launch, so there may be hope yet for the network’s survival.

What are your thoughts, does Google have the ammunition to take on Facebook and win, or do you think Google + will follow the footsteps of Wave and Buzz?

Alex Walker, Accountants’ Team

Posted in: Marketing, sales and PR, Social media
595 comment


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  • Alex

    As you said, users are lazy. Google’s circles were (in my opinion) their main selling point, especially as there was a growing distrust from Facebook users in terms of privacy. Yet people always seem to go back to Facebook – and I feel in part, it’s because everyone knows how to use it, and already have their friends there. People can’t be bothered with (mildly) complex filtering of connections, as it would take a reasonable amount of effort to get all your friends to sign up to a whole new site – which is a shame, as it means Facebook don’t really need to innovate any more – people will stay as long as the service is free, and Facebook don’t do anything radically stupid.

  • Alex Walker

    Hi Alex,

    I think it will be interesting to see how Facebook adapt to Google’s social innovations. I have my reservations around Facebook’s privacy policy, which really should be better communicated, especially when changing user profile settings.

    That said, we (users) fear change and it would take something really spectacular to topple Facebook. As you say, this will stifle their need to innovate themselves, especially as they seem to be able to replicate new features very rapidly. (i.e. Subscription, Lists etc)


    Alex Walker.

  • Jeff Piper

    I’ve been with Google+ since the beta and have several contacts through hobbies who are active but a lot of my other contacts have stopped using it as it gives nothing extra. I will check daily but there is often nothing extra.
    The only feature different is it’s interaction with Google products although restrictions on Picasa web do limit it.

    It will struggle to survive.

  • Alex Walker

    Hi Jeff,

    I also got into G+ on a beta invite, I really like some of the functionality but feel there are a lot of kinks to work out. That said I used ‘Hangouts’ for the first time today and it is very slick!

    I’d be very interested to know what the traffic numbers look like for G+ now it has been public for a while.


    Alex Walker.

  • Chris Brunelli

    I’m a G+ user in addition to Facebook & Twitter. I check my updates in Facebook regularly throughout the day. G+ gets checked 1-2x day, but through my gmail account. Here are some quick points.
    1) G+ strikes me as a better platform
    2) My friends and colleagues are already on Facebook
    3) The APIs arent there for Seesmic & Tweetdeck, I cant add #G to publish to G+on Twitter.


    Chris Brunelli
    Powering EDI for Mid-market Suppliers

  • Rob Scott-Norton

    Robert Scoble said this better than I could.

  • Alex Walker

    Nice article Rob, I do agree in some senses, on Twitter it can be frustrating trying to dig out content amongst the noise!

    I think there’s room in the market for G+, it just needs to decide what it’s for!

    Chris, tell me about it! I really wish that G+ was integrated with other social platforms, the fact I can’t use platforms like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to update it is so frustrating!


    Alex Walker

  • Liam Dempsey

    Hi Alex,

    Reporting in from Philadelphia where I just attended WordCamp Philly. The general consensus there was that very few people are on Google+.

    That strikes me as a telling sign given that the conference was filled with techies, designers and other computer-savvy users. If that crowd is not taking to Google+, and therefore not acting as evangelists for the service, then I wonder who will. Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

  • Alex Walker

    Thanks Liam,

    Interesting to hear there is a similar concensus on the other side of the pond. I think G+ does have a place in the social space, it may well end up usurping Flickr as the default goto social site for photographers.

    I don’t think it will ever take enough market share away from Facebook to be more than an ‘also-ran’.

    I’m keeping a close eye on G+ this week with the implementation of Business Pages. Maybe this will help it to gather some traction?


    Alex Walker.

  • Accountant London

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