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What’s All the Fuss about Google+?

Posted
December 20, 2011

A little while ago we posted about Google+, Google’s latest foray into the social networking business.

We were impressed then (and still are) by the way Google+ was poised to change the way we communicate online. Its combination of interactive features strips away anonymity while still upholding privacy, and allows online communication to emulate real world interaction.

When Google+ debuted in June, critics praised it, predicting it would force Facebook to go the way of the myspace buffalo. But for some reason, just a few short months later, the same critics are already eulogizing the site. So what happened? Why haven’t we all flocked over to Google+? And more importantly, why did anyone expect it to achieve global domination in under 100 days?

Why haven’t we all flocked over to Google+? And more importantly, why did anyone expect it to achieve global domination in under 100 days?

Approximately 50 million people are on Google+ (interestingly enough the most followed of those 50 million is Mark Zuckerberg). That might be a fraction of Facebook’s 800 million, but let’s not forget that it took Facebook several years to achieve that number. It should also be noted that Google+ only ended its invite-only beta phase in September, meaning the general public has only had access for a couple of months. And yes, there have been reports of sharply decreased activity on the site, but these reports have been proven false as they were based on faulty statistics. All things considered, Google+ activity is still in the safe zone.

Though some attacks on Google+ might be too early or based on faulty stats, there is a bit of truth to them. The initial excitement has worn off and there seems to be a slight decrease in buzz happening on the site. A few factors might be causing this. First, Facebook has risen to the challenge and matched many of the features that made Google+ stand out in the first place. Users have little motivation to migrate when they can stay on Facebook and get the same experience.

Another thing holding back activity on Google+ is the first is the classic “No, you hang up first” conundrum. Nobody wants to dig in to Google+ until they have enough contacts active on it to make it worth their while. But none of their contacts want to engage with the site until their contacts are active. It’s a vicious cycle that ends with everyone staying on Facebook.

And even though Google+ has been ahead of the game with its features (it boasted group chat, group video chat, and circles before anyone else did), it is still missing some key elements. They still don’t offer a way for businesses to create accounts, which is unfortunate considering how well businesses and consumers could benefit from Google+’s dedication to user interactivity.

“At the end of the day, the real winner here is the user, and that’s always a good thing.”
– Nancy Messieh

It’s still too early to declare a winner in this contest. A few months simply isn’t enough time to determine Google+’s victory or defeat. And besides, as The Next Web’s Nancy Messieh puts it “At the end of the day, the real winner here is the user, and that’s always a good thing.” We agree – the important thing is that users have more options and more control over how they communicate online, which is enough for us to hope that this battle isn’t over yet.

Photo Credit: thebiggandbusiness.com