Dear Google +,
It hasn’t been the easiest year for us. When I joined last summer, it was mostly to see what all the buzz was about. I already had a Facebook account, and a Twitter account, and would soon join Pinterest. I didn’t need you but your threat that I would join sooner or later, since so much of my online life goes through Google anyway, worked a treat. I consider myself an early adopter, and I couldn’t risk years of being amongst the first on each network just because I didn’t need you: becoming a Plusser was about curiosity as much as it was about e-reputation.
In an oped about your "Year of Missed Opportunities", Todd Wasserman from lead tech blog Mashable compares you to a ghost town, echoing my feeling. After an initial flurry of adding people and people adding me, the rate of new relationships has dropped. I have 98 people in my circles, 91 people have me in theirs, compared with the 731 users I follow on Twitter and my 1 583 followers (gathered over a three year period).
Posts don’t receive as much feedback on Google + as they do on Twitter. True, it’s partially my fault: I’ve been on Twitter for nearly three years, and I know my readership. When I tweet, I can pretty much predict who will react, sometimes in what manner. When I notice someone who used to interact with me regularly doesn’t anymore, I can share an article which I know will interest this follower. I’m that needy online. I don’t know my Google + circles as well, nor do they seem to know me.
Even the easiness of the Share button on Google Reader, which for a brief month convinced me I would become a Plusser, didn’t convert me. It’s there yet I forget about it, choosing instead to open each interesting link in a tab to Tweet it. I’m not alone: most marketers I speak to seem unconvinced by the sharing and influencer opportunities of Google +, not to mention its lack of interactivity.
Google + could work for me by fulfilling an online need I don’t even know I have or by finding an online solution to an offline problem. Pinterest did this very well: I had a folder on my desktop filled with hundreds of fashion editorials I never looked at, which I can now just Pin and access easily.
Wasserman argues Google +’s goal is to be “a less homey, more professional version of Facebook”, a goal which could be attained if Google pushed the productivity and collaborative nature of Google + further. However, start-ups like Work Flowy and iDoneThis do it already, and pretty well, and I’ve got the feeling some people are extremely happy to still be able to carry out Google-less activities online.
Is your future, dear Google +, condemned to being the single, compulsory interface through which any Google service, be it Gmail, You Tube, Picasa or Drive can be reached? Short of this happening, I can’t see myself integrating you in my daily browsing any time soon.
Yours in social,