So, last night, I lost about an hour of my life trying to figure out how to use Google+, the search engine’s answer to Facebook.
I’ll admit, it was an exciting hour. It always is when I get my hands on something shiny and new. But, after the initial euphoria of being invited to be one of the lucky early adopters, I closed the Google+ tab in my browser and headed over to Facebook.
Have you seen the Toyota car ads where they mock other car manufacturers for saying their car is “comparable to a Toyota” or “has the same features as a Toyota?” A few choice soundbites, then it’s suggested that you may as well just buy a Toyota. And that’s the problem Google+ is going to face. If all it aims to be is the search giant’s answer to Facebook, then why shouldn’t I just keep on using Facebook?
My friends are there. My videos are there. My photos are there. My check-ins are there. Why waste the time switching to a service that basically replicates what I already have?
And that’s Google+’s problem, it’s the same. Sure, it has some nice additions; circles, hangouts, sparks. But those are mostly Facebook features with different names and a slightly different implementation. Nothing really groundbreaking.
But Andy! Google ousted AltaVista. Facebook killed MySpace. BluRay is beating DVD. Why can’t Google+ trounce Facebook?
Because it doesn’t change the game. Google+ is an alternative to Facebook, not a revolutionary way of connecting. Google revolutionized search. Facebook did the same for connecting with friends. Google+ is just an alternative to Facebook.
In order for Google+ to be a success, it needs to fill a void that other social networks cannot. Twitter coexists with Facebook because the two offer very different platforms–very different user experiences and audiences. Google+ needs to find a way to be the third spoke in our social wheel. If it can do that, then it has a chance of success.
If, however, it only ever achieves “just like Facebook” status, then I’ll just stick with Facebook.
Note: The tilde ~ symbol represents “equivalent to” in mathematics. As in Google~Facebook. Aren’t I clever?