I’ve not talked about the Google+ “social network” often on this blog, mainly because I’ll openly admit to not having used it much. I have quoted what many experts believe, that it’s worth the effort getting to know it because it can be of real benefit to your marketing, apparently.
But I’m beginning to wonder if that’s true.
Nobody wanted another social network when Google weighed in with its system. However, because Google+ came with the backing of the search engine which makes us all jump when it says “jump”, we grudgingly accepted that we’d have to give it a try. Google dropped huge hints that if you started to use Google+, you might start to see a positive impact on your search results rankings – and that’s all we’re really concerned about, after all.
The trouble is, very few people I’m aware of are using Google+ as a social network, except under duress, and if it really did have an impact on the search results, it would skew the results in favour of a tiny number of people and businesses to the extent that the results would be ruined. And ruining their search results is something Google would never allow.
Of course, Google can probably roll out figures showing that there are more Google+ accounts than atoms on the earth, and that usage is doubling every second, but we all know that in the real world, Google+ is about as relevant as Compuserve or Netscape Navigator.
Sure, millions of people have Google+ accounts, because Google has forced them on us if we want to use its useful services. Indeed, as of last week, to even comment on YouTube, you need a Google+ account. Now even more people will have to get one – but only to use whatever service it was that forced them to do so. Google+ is becoming the object of so much derision on the internet that it’s hard to see how it can possibly recover. Here’s just one example released this week (click to play video):
And it’s not just derision – when it comes to the integration with YouTube, Google+ has inspired outright hatred. Google “My Thoughts on Google+” if you really don’t mind some very strong language (definitely not suitable for work).
Where in the media do you ever see Google+ mentioned, compared to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn or Instagram? The answer of course is never, outside of the community of people who make a living from discussing Google. Yet if you read the coverage when Google+ was launched two years ago, by now it should have eclipsed everything. Google will probably quote figures to say it has, but that’s just silly.
So why has Google+ appeared without trace? It might be something which nobody asked for, but I don’t believe that’s the real problem. For a start, almost nobody understands what it is. Twitter and LinkedIn have a point to them. Google+ doesn’t.
The second problem is that even if you’re geeky enough to understand it, Google+ is utterly baffling to set up, use and maintain. Google has form over the years on designing things (apart from its search engine) in a way only that only makes sense to geeks. Google+ adds this complexity of operation on to a product which doesn’t make any sense to normal humans in the first place.
My guess is that whatever social networks you use personally, and whatever you’ve introduced into your company’s marketing, Google+ is not going to be amongst them, except as a token gesture at best. Tell me if I’m wrong, please.
I suspect, however, you’ve probably been hoping that if you ignore it, Google+ will go away.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think it will go away, except as the way to sign into Google services. As a social network, I reckon it’s more likely to end up like unlamented products such as Google Wave, Buzz and Knol. You probably don’t remember them.