Google+ already starting to go the way of MySpace and Google Buzz

I guess now that I’ve posted this, I am a certified Google+ slagger. I don’t hate Google, in fact I love Android and Chrome and use them all the time. But my street corner Armageddon preach against Google+ is not without justification, the signs are there. Most people are too much of a pussy to call it this early. But perhaps soon I won’t be the only person boldly proclaiming Google+’s plan to be the average young person’s social network of choice, a failed model.

Google may be an endless moneybag hell bent on world tech domination, ready to throw an online tantrum whenever their copy-cat efforts don’t go the way they’d like it to. But there’s no getting around the fact that if you can’t keep people interested in your social network 6 weeks in, you are already the losers. Facebook shouldn’t be worried about Google+, Google should be worried about themselves.

Fact is, Google+ is fucking boring to most people. I, like the majority of early adopters, now have very little interest in using Google+ and it’s been less than 2 months since I joined. Isn’t that alarming? The only people I know using it now are tiny closed pockets of self-sustaining tech geeks who hate Facebook. Also using it are industry bloggers desperate to add that “I’m so cool, I stuck with it and now it’s huge” cred to their name. This is hardly what you want in order to reach critical mass. This is exactly the path Google Buzz went down.

Once people lose interest the first time, you’re hard pressed to convince even 10% of them to come back for a second round of boredom-inducing, vain attempts at narcissism. Look how hard MySpace tried, bless their souls. Now people everywhere are waking up to a fact we’ve touched on before, despite almost every other news blog on the planet getting an online boner over how Google+ should have Facebook worried.

When Google launched its Google+ social network six weeks ago, young and single people signed up quickly. But since then their interest has peaked and tailed off, and Google+ users now have more gray hair.

TechFlash claims that Experian Hitwise, which tracks this sort of thing, released an analysis of the audience for Google’s social network. Bill Tancer wrote in a company blog that “in just over six weeks, we’ve moved from innovators to early adopters to early mainstream users.”

College kids and habitués of cafés signed up early for Google+ but since then their involvement has plummeted to below the interest of the typical Internet user.

Part of the problem here is, Google+ still sees social patterns as something solvable via measurable metrics and mathematical algorithms. Google believes it can pigeon hole you and your changing interests into a formula.

While it’s nice that the web giant is paying attention to social behavior at all, can it ever really understand social networks if it only sees them as sources of information for its search algorithms?

“Google is an engineering company, and as a researcher or designer, it’s very difficult to have your voice heard at a strategic level. Ultimately I (Paul Adams, designer of Google+ “Circles” organisational feature) felt that although my research formed a cornerstone of the Google social strategy, and I had correctly predicted how other products in the market would play out, I wasn’t being listened to when it came to executing that strategy. My peers listened intently, but persuading the leadership was a losing battle. Google values technology, not social science.”

As Levy describes over and over again, no argument or business case or venture gets very far in Google unless it is backed up by data, and if it doesn’t have an engineer promoting it, at some point it will almost inevitably fail. This is arguably a fundamental part of why being social simply isn’t in Google’s DNA, as we have pointed out a number of times.

Source: Hey Google – Being Social is not an Engineering Problem | Gigaom.com | Mathew Ingram

The second major problem is, we all know where Google is coming from. It’s all about advertising. When Facebook came along, people were legitimately at a loss as to how the beautifully clean, ad-free platform was going to make money. People really thought that the only revenue-making there was, early on, was in purchasing $1 gift “icons” for your friends and loved ones for anniversaries and birthday. A cute and fluffy upstart business model if ever I heard one.

Not so, Google+. The end-game here is ads, bombardments of targeted ads that look deep into your posted content, learn about your every desire and fear, and present you with peer-recommended SPAM. On some level everyone knows this is the increasing reality if Google+ gains traction, and it’s a major turn-off.

The final problem is that Google’s Circles idea is NOT really that innovative and I refuse to jump on the kissing-G’s-ass bandwagon about it. All it would take is 1 tiny tweak from Facebook to their status update box and Google+ would no longer have that apparently magic ingredient. So if it’s so magic and obviously awesome, why hasn’t Facebook done it? Perhaps because it’s not the Harry Potter of social networking success?

Cue vehement comments from Google Fanbois saying “omfg dude. YOU don’t know a fucking THING about social networking! Google+ is awes0m3 and I use it every friggin day and you wilt too coz you use Google! So suck it up!!!!!11 Facebook SUX!!!

Facebook may or may not suck, but you still use it for 2 hours a day.

If Plus is to do more than just survive the long-game with 1/10th of Facebook’s user base, it needs some killer reasons for people like me to come back to it, fast. One way might be enticing the non-tech users to it until enough friends are on it every day that I no longer believe it to be a waste of time. A hard ask.

Google’s eye-rollingly lame and predictable fix seems to be opening it up to game developers this early on, in the hopes that some sort of exclusive Google+ equivalent of Farmville spawns and all the tech bloggers who are currently using the platform get so hooked that their non-tech friends come and use it. Face palm. Watch as Google+ becomes Second Life.

No Privacy

Google+ certainly isn’t doing itself any favours rolling out demands via the press such as “Use your real name or else we will boot you off Google+ because we will scan all of your input data across our networks to figure out who you are anyway“. That, to me, just reeks of privacy betrayal, a bitter pill that a fledging social network really can’t afford to have it’s users swallow this early into their game.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a part of an Internet that is eternally policed by Google identity crawlers like a fucking Orwell novel. Sure, Facebook is far from anonymous, but they at least waited until they reached critical mass before tackling controversial privacy issues and identity control. It’s also easy to fool Facebook and use a pseudonym if you want to, and so it fucking should be.

Allowing me to use a social network is not a privilege. Social networks getting me to use them, is their privilege.

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Categories: Business, Science, Technology

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

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