I was involved in the State of Search radio show this Tuesday night with Bas and Roy, something I have been fortunate to have been involved with on a number of occasions. During the conversation, we got onto the subject of Google+ something which has had a lot of noise over the last couple of weeks for a number of reasons not limited to Google engineers venting with others outlining the perceived decline in Google+ takeup over recent months.
I have to say, I was one of those that was very exciting at the thought of Google+. My personal thoughts are that the hangouts and Huddles are a great idea – yet something stops me from fully engaging with the product. I know I am not the only one – talking to many colleagues and industry peers it is clearly apparent that take off isn’t what many of us thought it would be – and the general public appear to be of a similar perception. I should add at this point that I am not saying Google+ is on its last legs – just that it certainly isn’t fulfilling its potential.
One of my main criticisms of Google+ is that it has a similar trait to many of the products Google has released over the last couple of years. The net result is a product that shows a lot of potential but comes across as half finished and with no thought of important considerations such as opportunity, advocacy or requirement. Unfortunately this has been a pattern we have seen on many rollouts recently whether it be some of the new Local products or the SSL search updates.
With an eye on exploiting the opportunity, the business pages were in my opinion one of their biggest oversights. One only has to look at the way many brands utilise the pages functionality of Facebook as the landing pages for much of their TV and radio advertising to see how the relationship between offline and online is merging. This is still a relationship in its infancy, and in my opinion one Google was in a fantastic position to exploit given the existing relationship with both advertisers and channel owners. The lack of any business integration with the launch of Google+ is one that I think will significantly impact on the growth of Google+ for a while – and I am even in doubt whether this may in itself provide to limit the overall impact of + to the wider public. Time will tell.
I would also suggest the lack of ‘social’ within the framework itself is also something Google need to address. To me there isn’t a personality something which doesn’t help it segment itself in the face of Twitter or Facebook. However when + launched it did so without the API to integrate with third party tools – however this was done well after launch – and takeup from what I can see is still fairly slow. Compare that with Twitter and Facebook and you can see where Google’s competitors have been smarter and faster to react to these opportunities – and one Google in my opinion should have considered pre – rather than post launch.
If one looks at the way Google is developing things, one can’t help thinking however – are Google really that interested in developing a standalone social network. One only has to look at potential plans to incorporate pseudonyms into Google+ or the incorporation of Plus within the wider Blogger network to see Google+ has a far wider remit. The amount of information Google is gathering from the relationships people are developing with the various Google toolkits is worth its weight in gold – and Google+ is just one part of that overall framework. If you think how much data Google can get for you from your Gmail, Analytics, Adwords, Google Docs etc. If you don’t perhaps take a look at some top level data Google can work out from my domain through the Social Graph interface and magnify that significantly. Just look at how Google is integrating social and circles into the search framework and the wider ‘wisdom of the crowds’ framework becomes increasingly more apparent.
Whether Google+ has missed the boat – I think is too early to tell. However theres no doubting they have missed a trick or three when it comes to really making this take off as a standalone product. There is no doubting Google are trying to move out of just Search into a wider audience and product set – however many of the recent releases have struggled to inspire and really grab public attention. That said there is no doubting Google is benefiting significantly from all this data – and integrating it into the wider search piece.
One major issue on the horizon is that of privacy – something which has been very much in the news since Google launched the SSL search last week. One only has to look at recent events concerning Facebook which has seen a raft of legal issues against it including more recently an Austrian Law Student taking them on for privacy violations. One only has to see the raft of data that Google is collating to suggest that it may not be too long before we start seeing similar issues arising with regards to Google themselves.
More posts about Google+
- Search in the Knowledge Graph era
- Some Google Fun on Google+
- What is Google+ Really all About?
- Google Lets You Say Thank You To Those Who Shared
- Google+ Badges For Personal Profiles
- Google Changes The +1 Button So You Can Share Even Faster
- Updated: Will A +1 Get A Page Indexed Even When Blocked by Robots.txt?
- Google+ Now Available For Teenagers
- Larry Page Tells Employees: Understand Search Plus Your World or Leave
- Google Adds Nicknames to Google+ (Not Pseudonyms!)
- Google keeps Pushing: Your New Google Account is Automatically your G+ Account
- How To Switch Off Google's Search Plus Your World Permanently
- How To Become That Suggested User on Google
- Privacy Watchdog EPIC Requests FTC to Investigate Search Plus Your World
- The Unexpected Backlash of Google Plus Your World
- Google Suggested Connections in the SERPS: It's About Your Social Circle
- Who Do You Think Is Right? Google or Twitter?
- What the Industry Thinks of “Search Plus Your World”
- Eric Schmidt: "Google Not Favoring Plus"
- Google Maps Team Develops Game For Google+
- The Next Step in the Google+ Masterplan: “Search Plus Your World”
- You Think Google+ Loses The Attention? December Saw Biggest Use Ever
- Google +1 Button Most Popular Button On Large E-Commerce Sites
- People Searching For Rebecca Black Are Not Stupid
- Google+ Profiles topping SERPS: Making People Search More Prominent
- Marissa Mayer at LeWeb 2011: Google+ was a “pleasant surprise”
- Eric Schmidt Confirms: The Social Signal is a Ranking Factor
- Making Things Personal: Google using Face-Recognition "the right way"
- Bradley Horowitz discusses Google+
- Google+: Sooner Or Later You Are Going To End Up Using It
- Google+ For Businesses: What The Industry Thinks (2)
- Google+ For Businesses: What The Industry Thinks (1)
- Finally Google Rolls Out Business Pages: An Overview
- Google Showing "Sources" in Preview Area
- State of Search radioshow – episode 73: Google + in Google Apps; Google Maps API Limitation
- How to Use Google+ for Beginners
- Google+ Available for Apps Users and Google introduces 'Ripples' and Trends
- Has Google+ missed the boat?
- How Google is pushing Google+ in your face
- Google is cleaning up: Google kills Buzz and Jaiku, focus on Plus
- Google vs Facebook: the Privacy Battle
- Finally Google+ Has Search (and more)
- Google Starts Opening up Google Plus API
- Google Plus is a Honeytrap
- SMX New York 2011: Day 1: What Every Paid Search Marketer Needs To Know About Google +1
- Google Plus One Button Shows Who Plus One-d a Page
- Want to Work At Google? Hack Them and Leak!
- You Can Now Ignore People in Google Plus (Without Them Knowing)
- Google Adjusts +1 button: Now You Can Share on Plus from the Button
- Google Gave Us Two More Reasons For Getting Our Meta Description in Order
- Google+ statistics: Male Student Geeks Dominating (infographic)
- Google Developer Timothy Jordan Talks Google+ for SES San Francisco
- Google Plus Links Now Officially in Google Social Search
- The Complete Google Plus Cheat Sheet
- What's this Google+? A Song About Google+
- How to Share on Google+ from any website
- Facebook "Posted About" Feature Potential Page Traffic Booster
- The Explosive Growth of Google+
- Google Plus Posts Showing Up in SERPS: now to rank them
- Google Plus circles you can actually use (infographic)
- Google News Badges: Google's Newest Social Data Tool
- Google+ changes are coming, here is a wish list
- Irony at its best: Zuckerberg sets Google+ settings to private
- An Inside look into Google +
- Google to take first steps to integrate + into search soon: realtime is gone