Google+,Google’s attempt to out Facebook Facebook, launched June 28th 2011 and has spent the past few years usually brought up in context of “oh yeah, I remember that,” amongst my circles.
The success of Google+ relied on people wanting to move social networks from Facebook to a service that gave you huge amounts of photo control and editing, storage, granular user circles for privacy, lack of annoying game notifications, and a no ad experience, which sounds great in theory.
What people wanted ended up being something out of a privacy lover’s deepest nightmares. Facebook. Ah well, can’t hate for consumer choices. Also Google probably is more of a nightmare when you get down to it due to search and location history but I want to believe it’s not evil. The truthiness shall set my fears free.
Before I go much further I’ll point out these are my observations. Your Google+ experience may have varied wildly. No hate here.
Google+ suffered from infrequent substantial updates, an attempt to do it all, and a different experience between in-app and on-webpage as people who used some of the services would have to switch between the two.
An example was Google Latitude which was integrated badly into Google+, and then for s***s and giggles only worked on the app version. It performed poorly with no ability to ping for a more precise location or map to the location my friends were at. Hell, if I wanted to text, message, or call someone on the location map I needed to exit the app and open the phone or hangouts separately.
Sure Google+, I want to compare what’s on the map to the desktop map I’m looking at and then navigate there. Let me type out that address that you think they’re at within a disclosed, then undisclosed area of certainty.
Location sharing sounds stalkeresque I know, but I use the feature nearly every weekday to time picking up the kids from daycare with my wife. It’s also sometimes nice to know that someone has made it to work or home in a rain storm without having to bother them potentially driving with a text or phone call. Maybe that’s just me.
Moderation seemed nonexistent unless it was handled by whoever was managing a group which was great for people who want to look at entrails strewn on a road from a motorcycle crash first thing in the morning.
Efforts were made to integrate it seamlessly with other Google products such as Hangouts, which for the longest time would simply not find several of my contacts instead showing me everyone on Google+ with their name.
I believe this was some bug where when an email address was changed on Gmail it wouldn’t propagate to Plus and then your contact somehow ended up in limbo. Happened when a friend of mine went off and got married and changed her last name and forget about easy texting her from hangouts for two years.
Businesses burned by multiple Google business pages fiascos were not particularly quick to jump on the Google+ Business, Brand, Local Pages bandwagon. Trying to think of any place I go that says “check us out on Google+” and can’t think of one. From my experience with Local Guides I’ve seen a vast array of empty business profiles that seemed to be autocreated from some older extremely out of date database.
On the flip side it’s an amazing place for small group conversations that are open but your stalker doesn’t get notified of every single movement you make like Facebook does (right hand column). I’m talking that person who pays attention to every single thing you do, not an actual ban-them stalker.
What Google+ did right it did great. The face matching on Google+/Photos originally was the bomb. It still is, but FB caught up pretty quickly from what I can tell.
Without a strong reason, mass support, commercial support, Plus became what it is today. A playground for some, a wasteland for others. A miniature fully featured social network platform.
I don’t think Google Plus is dead and going away, but I don’t think it’s going to be the FB killer they were hoping for anytime soon.
I think it could be revealed that Facebook is powered by slave labor, the blood of kittens, and love of Hanson and still only a couple of people would jump ship. How do you defeat inertia like that?
That said, for small group conversations that don’t get picked up by the parents/grandparents/racist uncle/depressed Facebook friend who think everyone should be depressed as he is/Apple users (really, there’re like three on there), it’s a playground.
Maybe it’s not fair to compare it to Facebook as Plus can be more readily used in business environments by teams, if not really particularly useful for businesses promoting themselves. Maybe my circles have just died and I’m seeing nothing but the fringes of a uniquely vibrant and flourishing social network. I doubt that but it’s possible.
Whatever the case, Happy Birthday Google+, let’s hope the next five are much more rewarding than the last.