Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Google + ... "This Place is Dead Anyway..."

I love that scene in "Swingers" (the cult classic written by Jon Favreau from '96) where Charles their "man of few words" LA-Hipster-Buddy announces "this place is dead anyway" just moments after the "crew" has arrived at a hip and hard to find LA bar.

I recall the first time I saw the movie wondering how anyone could have even finished a drink in the time it took Vince Vaughn and company to arrive, take in the scene and then quickly depart. The funny thing is ... I thought that bar looked cool! The bar lighting was nice, ladies looked fine not to mention it seemed hard to find and semi-exclusive. But Charles time and time again cracks me up by launching into a dry and cocksure, "This place is dead anyway."

Tonight I was thinking about Google + and this scene came to mind. Google + really is a fourth mover in what has become a complicated world of Social Media. Yes that's right Socialites I am counting 1) Friendster 2) MySpace 3) Facebook and now 4) Google +. Google + is not so different from the "Swingers" bar that seemed so full of promise that Charles was so quick to dismiss. Remember when Google + was invite only (semi-exclusive)? It's got a great design template right? No denying that! Facebook has already ripped a page out of the Google + mobile app by bringing bigger pictures to your handheld. On the outside Google + does still have the "Google" in it correct? So there you go. Google + is that semi-exclusive LA hideaway with a sharp looking bouncer and great lighting on the inside...

So what's the problem? Well the problem is ... "this place is dead anyway!" Google + has never been able to gain the critical mass in most people's circles to gain any real social media traction. It's like a bar full of people that seem unapproachable. When I login engagement is nearly unattainable because I have so few friends participating in the "conversation." For Social Media to fire on all cylinders there has to be a conversation that is ready to join. Right now the pockets of chatter aren't enough for the average user to stick around.

What might happen: Google + is going to open up your mouth and cram itself down your throat! Don't believe me? Fine! I was at Google's Mountain View two weeks ago and listened intently as several "Googlers (Google Employees)" described Google + as the SPINE of GOOGLE! Google is not a Jellyfish so surely how could Google + become their spine? Truth is Google is going to find a way to take your Gmail account, your Google Drive account, your Google Places account and make it become a Google + page. If they can do that successfully it is possible that more Social users would stick around for some "one stop shopping."

What may keep it from happening: No one likes a chameleon. Google + is going to take steps to make sure they don't walk in the similar steps of Facebook which means blazing a new trail. I do believe Google is capable but that is a tough challenge. Essentially without further innovation (and trust me Facebook will do their best to keep up) Google + will continue to be a place that is "dead anyway."


  1. Oh, what the hell, I’ll bite!

    I’m one of the stubborn few who abandoned Facebook for Google+ as soon as I saw it. The interface and incorporation with other Google products sold me. I stuck around for its better and smarter content, especially in technology, science and the arts.

    I think there’s a tendency by a lot of people to compare it exactly to Facebook, but I see it more as a way to network and streamline my online life through Google Reader, Picasa and YouTube. I have empty circles that I use like a clipping service to store posts for later. Sometimes I use it like email with private posts to specific people, so I’m not clogging up friends’ inboxes.

    With Hangouts, you have a completely free way to have multiple parties on a live video chat, with shared editing of documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. With one feature they basically wiped out the premise of Skype, WebEx and countless other conferencing services.

    It’s a bit daunting at first to build your circles, which scares people off. It’s like Twitter in that you need to seek out interesting strangers and post good content to build your audience. (40 people in your circles ain’t enough, brah!) Frankly, it’s work. I’m building a pretty good network of in-town Atlanta folks interested in local events and issues, and I don’t think I ever would have friended them on Facebook or elsewhere.

    I’m not sure how things will shake out in the social wars, but I think more young people (or at least Americans) will be driven away from Facebook in the near future. I’m already wondering about engagement there. Less than a quarter of my friends there post anything. That doesn’t mean they’ll come to G+, but something is missing.


  2. Greg --- you make some great points. There is a lot of value to Google +. I don't disagree with that...and I have a lot of faith in Google to see it integrate with their excellent suite of products. Problem is that until your circle is full with those whom you like to interact with --- site usage will be limited. Keep fighting the good fight --- I am sure I could learn a few things from your Google + usage!