Talk of the town! New and Hip Thing! Beautiful! Stunning! Glorious! “The Facebook Killer!”
These are all things that people are saying about Google’s new social network, Google+ (said: Google Plus), which has gained a considerably high demand in the last few weeks. Many people actually believe it’s going to kill Facebook.
I’ll say it before anybody here… Google Plus is really nice. It’s slick, it’s simple, it’s got everything I want in a social network, and even a HUGE Ten-person video chat service added as well. However, a “Facebook Killer” it most certainly isn’t. To realize this, users will need to develop a basic understanding of why Google has so much hype on this right now, and why the demand is so high. First off, it’s NEW.
New products always have a little hype behind them. Most of the time, products show signs of failure and gain hype for how much of a joke they are. Every now and then though, a product comes along that people think twice about, and then look closer at. This is Google Plus. It’s new, and it has a lot of hype behind it.
But how long will this last?
Well, that question is hard to answer at this point. As I can see, a few key facts really stand out to me that really make me question whether or not Google Plus really has what it takes to compete with Facebook at all. For starters, the social network hasn’t started out as a social network at all. In fact, users are generally doing very odd, and unintended things on Google Plus (although not completely unforeseeable). A vast majority of those who have managed to get invites onto Google Plus aren’t treating the network like a social network at all. They aren’t communicating to their friends about their day, or scheduling to get together for something, or even doing all that much chatting with the video system. The number one thing people are talking about on Google+ right now, is Google+.
That’s not what a social network is about. Users aren’t supposed to make the network itself the main topic of discussion… but it’s happening globally throughout the network. Some would argue that it’s because it’s new. True… that is the main reason people are using it, and talking on Google Plus in the first place right now… because it’s new.
So what happens when the flood gates open, and the network goes public? What happens when the few million on the network are suddenly just normal users (they aren’t special anymore). What happens… when Google+ is no longer “new” to users? Will they continue to use it? Their attitudes say yes, but their behavior says no.
Users right now, even those with all of their friends with them on Google Plus, are using Facebook more to communicate about topics that matter to them, and then switching back to see if there are any updates about G+.. on G+. They are still primarily using Facebook, rather than the new hip social network they are in.
One explanation for that is the very nature of closed invitations. It really isn’t allowing the network to flourish yet. Perhaps when it does open up, people can join themselves, without an invite, and immediately dive right in to this mix and match of a Facebook competitor, with a Twitter following system. Even still, Facebook will be the network they spend most of their time for a while. It has everything they currently want, and every person they want to talk to with nearly 800 million user accounts.
So… Does Google Plus have what it takes to be a sustainable entity for years to come? I hope so… but so far, I’m just not sure about anything. Perhaps a few changes to current bugs and some improvements in the UI (especially for circles) would make it a bit more user friendly, and enough of an improvement could pull people away from Facebook for a little while every day. Eventually, years down the road, these two network powerhouses could go at it… even though we all know everybody will still have an account on Facebook anyways, even with Google Plus around.
Google must find a way to make sure that their time and money isn’t flopped into a WAVE of disappointment. The big question for the future in everyone’s mind needs to be: “Can it last long enough to be a success, or will it just turn into yet another BUZZ?” Time will tell… and I think that time is coming up very soon.
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