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More Fuel for the Google+ Debate?




Google-Plus-Glossy-IconIf there is one area of the online space that there seems to be little or no middle ground, it’s regarding Google+.

In one camp we have Google+ converts. They are the ones who have decided to go and utilize Google+ no matter what the consequences. These folks get into it heavily and are definitely working to move the brand forward just by their attention to it. Chief amongst those that I have been made aware of is Mark Traphagen. If you are interested in learning just about anything about Google+ he is a good place to start.

In the other camp we have the “It’s a ghost town” crowd. This group doesn’t believe that anyone does anything there and there is virtually no reason for its existence. Extreme? Yes. It is a position, however, that is losing steam. One recent experience that bodes well for Google+ comes from Rae Hoffman who told of her experience being on only Google+ for a week, in place of her other social media favorites. She summarizes her experience in her own inimitable style with this summary.

DID THIS WEEK CHANGE MY THOUGHTS ON GOOGLE+?

Absolutely. Even if you completely ignore the potential effect it might eventually have on the algorithm, my week there taught me that my former opinion that it had no merit to a real person was wrong. There’s a lot of value (for me) in participating there. Like all social media, if you use it like an asshat as your personal advertising channel vs a way to network and find cool things, you’re not going to find it very productive.

Now add to this some findings from Burst Media as reported by eMarketer and, as a marketer at least, you may have to ratchet down your distate for Google+ and at least recognize that there are some numbers there.

Google Plus Trumps Twitter

This kind of finding in no way points to ‘engagement’ levels (whatever that means to you). It’s just a number of accounts. But take the growing number of Google+ proponents and a ‘convert’ like Hoffman and it might just mean that Google+ is here to stay regardless of the pundits and hate it generates even today.

Hard to imagine that Google+ wouldn’t stick around. Google has been chopping services that people were very involved in, like Google Reader, but there is never any talk about a similar fate awaiting Google+. What many seem to fail to recognize is that Google is investing in Google+ and it has something that only a very select few companies have: nearly unlimited resources and time.

Google+ may actually become more useful to more people because it can play in a game of attrition that will help them outlast or out power other competitors. Also, as people continue to move away from the Facebook comparisons it will help it grow even more.

Personally, I still under-utilize Google+ greatly. I will say, though, that the times I get in it to take a real look, I have a lot of questions (which is a good thing) and see plenty to be interested in. The problem for me is that unlike Google, I don’t have limitless resources. Ultimately that could be the thing that stunts the real growth of Google+. Social media users (normal ones) will only give so much time to social media. They have lives otherwise and are not willing to give the effort (read: time) necessary to truly benefit from the investment in another social network.

So as we approach the two year anniversary of Google+ how do you few the service? Which camp are you in? Why?

  • http://blog.cdginteractive.com heidimoon

    For quite a while I was in the first camp: there was too much overlap with Twitter and/or Facebook to give me a reason to carve out time for yet another network. What changed for me was the addition of Communities. Although they are in some ways very similar to LinkedIn Groups, I find them more engaging, easier to use and with a greater depth of discussion.

    It’s also impossible to ignore the growing importance of G+ and authorship (as Mark Traphagen can tell you) to reputation management and ranking.

    You’re right that Google isn’t getting rid of Plus any time soon. My prediction (not unique to me by any means) is that Google will in fact expand Plus to *be* the signed-in Google experience. They’re already starting to do this; Google Profiles became Google+ Profiles and Google Places became Google+ Local.

    • gnuku

      Do you think we will get Google+gmail, Google+youtube or Google+map inside the plus experience?

      • Che Soaring

        It’s already happening, I would say weeks not months until we see more intergration with youtube etc… The system already allows accounts to be linked. I am still part of the group figuring this thing out, but being in there daily I am seeing so many fast changes and iterations with other Google services that I believe Google+ will be ‘Google’ one day. Integrating and socializing the search experience is where it is all going and this is only the tip of the iceberg. IMHO.

        • Pat Davis

          Google has just integrated it with Gmail… now when a company reaches out to its customers via email. Gmail will give the customer the option of following that company directly from the Gmail interface. Great way to get folks participating without even really being on G+. Some smart folks over there @ Google!!!

      • http://heymalc.com/ Malcolm Simmonds

        Deffo, gnuku – this is the “social layer” which G+ has erected/is erecting over very many of its products. It provides a connection between them. Are you signed in to one? You’re signed in to all :)

  • http://www.davidmcohen.com/ David Cohen

    We’ve only just seen the start of how Google is going to integrate Google+ across all products and platforms. Brands will be forced on G+ just like they were forced on FB, Instagram, and Pinterest. But, Google can give brands who are active on G+ a very unique advantage in the context of paid and organic search, an experience those other social channels cannot.

  • RickyRobi

    When I do take time for G+ I find plenty of activity, engagement and opportunity for myself and my clients. If only I could find another 24 hours in my day…

  • Chuck Cortes

    I live on Google+. As a natural Chatterbox who can’t say anything in few words, Twitter was not the site for me even though I have an account and use automated tweet sites to share my G+ posts simply because, well, why not? FB was never able to give me the reach I wanted considering it was mostly family and friend based and not only is my family boring based on what I like but I have very few real friends not to mention those I considered acquaintances that were on my FB list never really engaged with me and my interest so not wanting to add random strangers to my FB account for obvious reasons FB was a fail for me.

    Google+ gave me everything both of these couldn’t plus (pun intended) those things each had that I liked. The ability to post like FB without restrictions and limitations and the ability to follow people without having to add them to my list and still keep my profile as private as I want it to be. Plus the link to Google’s other products was also a plus (pun intended as well).

  • cynthialil

    I liked Rae’s observation about the lower noise to signal ratio – I find this to be true as well but I wonder if that’s a function of the site or just that there aren’t enough people posting to create all the usual noise. I’m over there but it’s still not a priority.

    • http://heymalc.com/ Malcolm Simmonds

      Cynthialil – the common theme is that people are finding the experience on G+ higher quality – deeper and more genuine discussions, etc. As for the “not many people” thing, you may be surpised to hear that G+ has passed Twitter with the number of active users online.

      Here are some recent figures:

      “Top 15 social media sites worldwide, ranked by proportion of active users, Q1 2013 (% of internet users):
      1. Facebook: 51%
      2. Google+: 26%
      3. YouTube: 25%
      4. Twitter: 22%”

      Note that Google owns YouTube and YT is in Google’s “social layer” – so in a way that makes Google 51%…

      See you on Google + ;) haha

  • Marc

    Its interesting to see that there are more +1’s on this article than Likes to Tweets (as of this typing). I know that’s not the most meaningful of ways to measure anything but I am starting to notice more and more websites where the +’1 are in the same ballpark as the Likes and Tweets which compared to even six months ago was not the case as all.

    • Ya boiii

      +1 spam.

    • http://heymalc.com/ Malcolm Simmonds

      Getting a mention on G+ by Mark Traphagan (50k in his circles) helps, Marc! LOL

      But I agree that, on balance, G+ seems to have more of a future than Facebook. (As I discuss in this post: http://heymalc.com/google-plus-vs-facebook-theres-a-fight-brewing )

      Facebook is struggling to make money with their billion users and have no choice but to annoy them by putting ads in timelines. (The latest plan is to put videos – playing, but silent until the user chooses to enable the sound – in timelines. See how users like that…) Whereas Google can put no ads in G+ if it chooses (and it currently does so choose) as it knows people visiting G+ and gonna be funneled off to search and YT etc – where they CAN make money out of them.

      I know it’s hard to call: but my money’s on G+ being a strong and growing force.