Why Google+ is Failing

By Rodney Brazeau
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

Google made a brave effort as the potential Facebook Killer with its own social media website Google+. The complete lack of anything ending in “ville” does make me want to jump to that service, but it seems that despite its initial signup of 90 million people, Google+ is not really killing anything.

It isn’t killing time, and it sure isn’t killing Facebook. Its not even giving Facebook an irritating cold sore.

Wall Street Journal says:

Visitors using personal computers spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook each month over the same period, according to comScore, which didn’t have data on mobile usage.

Facebook currently has 845million users. Granted it has been a while since Facebook opened its doors, and it earned its place in the social network hierarchy.

Facebook grew to this unstoppable giant on the flippant failure of other social network giants like Friendster and the still-struggling-to-be-relevant MySpace. While those services were once popular, Facebook is the clear winner here. By “winner” I mean that while everyone else was trying to invent the better social network, Facebook still manages to keep their user base. Every time one of these social networks failed, it was because someone else did something more appealing and everyone started using that instead. Google+ attempted to be better and in many technical ways it is. However, despite its massive early adoption, people just are not continuing to use Google+.

Now Google is always inventive and seems to be unable to do anything wrong, so why can’t Google+ trump Facebook? They are always introducing new features and new tools from a seemingly bottomless pit of ideas. Google+ is not a bad idea or a bad product, but the problem is that Facebook already did that idea. Google+ offers a clean interface with many excellent features that Facebook doesn’t have (friendlist video conferencing for example) without all that clutter of nonsensical app-based games and annoying ads.

But guess what Google+ doesn’t have. Your friends.

That’s right. This is the ultimate failure of Google+. People are not using it. It has nothing to do with its features and everything to do with population. There is a significant number of people registered on their service, but it’s not registered accounts that matter. It is how often those users actually use the site. Google+ doesn’t even have as many daily visitors as MySpace has. MySpace is considered past tense in the Social Networking world and it still has more interaction and visitors than Google+.

And here’s the kicker:

You know all those changes they make that just get everyone SO MAD that they have to chirp about it on their status updates? Or how they carry on repeatedly about how they hate these changes? This only helps Facebook maintain relevance in this market. I guarantee you that each and every one of those changes are honestly crafted by the people at Facebook with the improvement of the site in mind. Opinions vary on the effectiveness of these changes, but the service is evolving with its users. If they DIDN’T make changes a cutting edge service like Google+ may be what everyone is using next.

But people complain about these things in their status and hope for their friends to validate their grievances. This only further perpetuates the effectiveness of social networking!

We use social networking to connect, and to connect you need connections. If you don’t have an audience on Google+ then there is no connection. No network.

There may come a day when people say “Remember Facebook” like we now say “Remember Friendster?” but sadly, that day isn’t today, and it isn’t Google+ that is doing it.

I don’t know anyone with a Google+ account that doesn’t still use Facebook. I have a Google+ account and the ONLY people in my list there are also in my list on Facebook.

The only two people I know that have “given up” on Facebook entirely are using apps that will populate their Facebook accounts with their Google+ status updates and links. I think more than anything, this proves my point.

Sorry Google. We love you a whole lot, but the party was already happening at Facebook’s house when you sent your invite. All my friends (and vague acquaintances) are already here.





35 Responses to Why Google+ is Failing

  1. Your post basically comes down to "people aren't using Google+ because people aren't using Google+." Its true, but it doesn't really provide any insight.

  2. It isn't intuitive enough to use Google+ either. I wanted to write on my friend's wall or message them, and was completely stumped on how to do it. I ended up having to google it, and I would never have guessed I was supposed to make a status update and only circle that specific friend to message them. I still have no idea how to write on their wall…

    • There is no concept of a "wall" in G+ that is a MySpace concept that bled over into FB. And no you don't have to put a friend in a circle by them selves to message them … when you create a "post" you simply choose who you want to share the post with (from whole circles to individuals).

      • oops, I meant tag or whatever the Google+ equivalent is, not circle.
        I've just come to expect a wall now, and I know I'm not alone. I think it's strange that they didn't incorporate that.

  3. A big miss as far as Google+ goes is their failure to take advantage of Facebook fatigue. Every time FB rolls out a new update, people complain. G+ hasn't capitalized on those complaints to turn people on to G+. Also, half the country has a Gmail account–G+ dropped the ball by not better integrating these and simply creating a G+ page for Gmail users. Instead, it still requires active steps, so anyone who doesn't take those steps is not on G+. Dumb. I talked about why G+ may fail a while back here: http://kooztop5.blogspot.com/2011/12/top-5-reason…. I think those points are still valid.

  4. I have one friend who has a Google+ and not a Facebook. He adamantly refused to get a Facebook, but got a Google+ when it came out because "at least this one already knows everything about me – might as well be consolidated".

  5. I can give you a good reason I don't use G+, despite being in the early days before it opened. The Circle Sharing thing. It sounds great on the surface, but is irritating for those of us that don't want to be on a bazillion friends pages. I friend people I want to know & socialize with. G+ removed that barrier by encouraging you to post you to the public. I don't want, or need to have 1000+ people in my circles. That makes for a news feed that becomes unmanageable very quickly. It's as bad as all of the people trying to be freinds with you on FB just to increase their Farmville neighbor counts.

    Also, the main people I see in the hangouts are doing just that, hanging out. Not talking, but just sitting there, lurking. There is content over at G+, but the quality has actually gone downhill when they opened to the public. Not because of the public, but because of the behavior encouraged by the features of the site.

  6. The author really fails at the comparison because he goes along with the idea that once a computer has been released for a year, it's become ancient and no longer the latest and greatest. This is failsauce at its finest, because it ignores the long-term effects. Myspace and Facebook did not take less than one year, each, to gain the notoriety that they have today, it took them years and a lot of work to do. That's what I see G+ doing. To be fair, Rodney does have a G+ account. However, he has not filled out his profile. This is why it's failing on HIS end, not on everyone elses end. His scope on G+ is limited and that's probably due to a lack of people that he knows there. As a result, he has taken the knee-jerk reaction to writing this article. Since Rodney lacks the foresight required to write an article that actually contains any real meaning or fact, I'll go ahead and say, "Sorry Rodney, your article sucks. Please, get some experience and try again.". Now, don't get me wrong, I'm glad that he did go and write this article. He has a great platform from which to launch an argument from, but his ammunition is weak.

    • I honestly have NO CLUE what you are trying to allude to with your analogy of year old computer hardware. Sorry. Your analogy sucks. Get some experience and try again.

      I didn't complete my Google+ profile because everyone on there is on my facebook. It is redundant. I started using it, and like many others saw no point in continuing. I check my feed there and all I see is everything I already read on Facebook.

      Google+ might succeed if they can get people to actually USE it. As many others have commented here, there are many things Google could have done to make it easy to switch over. Its only real failure is the inability to get people to engage.

      • TL;DR: You get out of any endeavor what you put into it. You want engagement? Then engage!

        Three minutes a month? *boggles* How much engagement could you find with anyone in a mere three minutes? I spend most of my free time on G+, and even so I cannot keep up with all the fascinating posts and discussions going on there, and I have fewer than 150 people in my circles, whereas more than 1000 people from all over the world have circled me. And I’m not even a contributing writer to a popular website; I’m a nobody!

        “I didn’t complete my Google+ profile because everyone on there is on my facebook. It is redundant.”

        Ok, so you’re complaining that you see nothing on G+ that you don’t see on Facebook? You’re saying that Facebook is great because it has 845 million users, but you’re only willing to look at 20 people on G+? If you didn’t want to talk to anybody that wasn’t already on Facebook, why did you bother looking at G+?

        “We use social networking to connect, and to connect you need connections. If you don’t have an audience on Google+ then there is no connection. No network.”

        “Its only real failure is the inability to get people to engage.”

        When you don’t fill out at least a little bit of your profile on G+ and don’t make at least one public post, you have failed to engage, and you have set yourself up to fail. You have announced that you do not wish to communicate with anyone you don’t already know, and you prevent any chance of anyone finding you and deciding you might be an interesting person instead of a spammer or some other kind of creep.

        You want connections? You want engagement? Here’s what you do: Since this is a Geeks are Sexy article and they have a few posts up on G+ whereas you don’t, let’s go start at Geeks are Sexy’s G+ page. (Iif you don’t know how to find it, type “Geeks are Sexy” into the search box at the top of your G+ page.) Look at some of their posts, find one or more that interests you, and then check out the reactions to the posts. If there are substantive comments, join the discussion. If there are only +1s, shares, and/or “Me too” comments, click on those users to check out their profiles and posts, and then if you like what you see say something relevant, and circle them. That’s how you get connections: by connecting with people who share your interests.

        Or, don’t start with Geeks are Sexy; instead use that search box at the top of your page to look up any subject near and dear to your heart. You’ll find all kinds of posts there. Then do the same thing as above: see what people are saying about it, and join the discussion! Only I’ll warn you again: if you don’t put something in your profile, people will just think you’re a creep until you prove you aren’t.

  7. Chris Durham nailed it. FB is more social based and Google+ is more interest based. I don't think it was ever intended to be a FB killer even though for some, like myself, it has succeeded at doing that. One of the things I've always hated about FB is the mentality of the users there or just the way the average user used FB. People don't really engage on FB, it's more of a vanity site to parade to your friends and family — look at me, look what I accomplished, look what I failed at. Whine, complain, or brag – that's what it always came down to. I wanted engagement. I wanted people to interact with and discuss the things I posted. I never ever really got that from FB when I was there. Yes I speak in past tense. I deleted my FB account November last year and have never ONCE looked back. I won't ever go back to FB even if they were the last social network in the universe.

  8. The first mistake this article, and just about every other article evaluating G+ makes, is that it is trying to beat, replace, move people away from, or compete with facebook in any traditional sense. The 3 minute per month figure vs. 6 hours doesn't mean a whole lot really because it's an average. there needs to be a study that looks at engagement in the top 10 percent of users. G+ isn't where I go to chat with my friends, it isn't where I go to say happy birthday to my mom, and it's not where I go to plan events. That's fb and it's great at those things. I use G+ to follow people who are interesting who are thought leaders in the things I'm interested in: Film Making, Photography, Technology. To be honest and fair, I think G+ is still carving out an identity for itself, and the number of people who are helping do that is relatively small; but they're more interesting and engaging than on fb. The problem that I always hear from people who say, "I tried Google + but no one's using it," is that they tried to use it the same way they use facebook. Run through your address book, find who's there, and circle them. G+ focuses on a different level of social interaction.

    • Totally agree with you, I use facebook and google+ for very diferent things, I love google+ because if you follow the right people you get extremely good ideas, thoughts, learn a lot of really impresive people, I spend most time in facebook, but it is only because I use it for vhar with my friends that are not already in google+, but I already have plenty friends to chat in google+ and I like it better because I can video chat in my machine with linux :P. This is not a war don't think like that.

      • its not a war, but the market you are talking about is so small. From a "social networking" perspective is this really why google created this program? I mean really? is it supposed to be that complicated? the whole success of any site these days lies in its simplicity. How is it simple to create another site that is a social network AGAIN?! isnt that why our economy crashed earlier?

  9. In my opinion, one of the biggest problems Google+ has that means a lack of people coming in, is their 18+ restriction. When you're 18, you can go out into the world and do many many things. The people who are on the social networks all day, however, are the teenagers who AREN'T old enough to do those things yet. That being 14 – 17 year olds.

    In my friends list, I have people of almost all ages. I have noticed that teens like to post very often indeed, whereas the adults post once every two days or so. If the key to a social network's success is the amount of people using it, and they amount they use it… then cutting out 13-18 year olds is one of their biggest mistakes.

    Yes I am aware that they're not doing it to spite us; that there are legal reasons for doing so, but if they don't get themselves into gear and sort it soon, Google+ will be gone.

    My final point is that Google really needs to implicate G+ into YouTube, Maps and Searches (even more than it is), so people struggle to avoid it until curiosity gets the better of them. What got me into Facebook was when I had the Facebook iPhone app glaring at me from within the App Store every single day until I finally caved in and signed up.

    • You just admitted that they can't allow under age accounts for legal reasons then you continue by saying they need to sort it out. Are you suggesting Google ignore the law?

  10. I stopped using G+ after the whole need to use your real name BS. That and Eric Schmidt's comments were condescending and frankly at this point I WANT to see G+ die, even though I despise Facebook with the white hot passion of a billion burning suns.

  11. Heh, I use G+ more than Facebook because I met a bunch of awesome peeps on G+ and Facebook is for my family, whom I don't necessarily want to have an in depth convo about politics/religion with… I use G+ a lot. Like, all the flippen time. Way more than Facebook. But it helps I never have had any emotional attachment to FB, it's always been meh to me.

  12. Google has expressed many times that they don't have any intention to topple Facebook, they just want to give their users an alternative, because, you know most of use don't care about the inane games that Facebook has, those are an involution of gaming and anyone playing those shouldn't be proud about that. G+ is here to stay, just give it some time, I also feel a more geeky vibe on the people I follow there.

  13. Add me to the list of people who strongly prefer G+ to FB. Yes, the real names thing is crap, but they are getting over it (slowly), and FB has so many issues with how they misuse data it isn't funny.

    I read the WSJ article and thought their conclusions were pretty much bogus.

    In my experience G+ has much better conversations – with real data actually moving around – and a much better and more stable UI. FB's engineers couldn't program their way out of a wet paper bag if their lives depended upon it and they were holding a razor sharp sword.

    I'll take G+ every time, though the idea of Diaspora has a lot of appeal too. I will abandon my FB account ASAP… just need a few more people I know to move to G+ and I'm gone.

  14. I was hoping for some insight here beyond "people aren't using Google+ because other people aren't using Google+." From my perspective, Google had an opportunity to create a social network that tightly integrated its various other services, such as Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, YouTube, etc.

    • This was never intended as an in depth analysis of feature vs feature or intent of audience.

      The statistic was posted on Wall Street Journal that showed how the average user at G+ are not very engaged in that network and compared it to Facebook.

  15. Saying that G+ is failing because it isn't beating Facebook is like saying the moon isn't beating Mars. It's nonsensical.

    AOL also earned its place in the social network hierarchy the same way Facebook earned it, through sheer volume. Everything that gets opined about Facebook now was said about AOL 15 years ago.

    And Facebook will die the same bloated, slow death that AOL did, while smaller fresher ideas (like G+) pop up, get used and people move on.

  16. Hmm… I guess I'm less a Facebook/Google+ guy and more of a good old fashioned hide in a tree with a pair of binoculars kind of guy. It's really no fun at all to stalk people when they're literally begging you to do it.

  17. G+ ad a chance to get me and my friends there, but they chose not. There was a time that they announced the service, and the incredible things they where doing, and etc. And I and my friends went crazy to go there and check it out! So, I got to the gates and those were closed. Something like "We are in Beta, give your email and one day we will contact you". Guess what? I lost the excitement and returned to facebook. So did my friends. One day, when they told that they were ready for me, I opened an account, checked it out, asked some friends to try, but they already have lost the excitement by that closed but full announced thing in the past, and even didn't even tried. What hapened? Never launch a not ready service to people or they will refuse. Same did GoogleTV 1, people bought it excited, did not had a great experience, returned the devices and Logitech cries every day since. They need some kind of Steve Jobs there to guide them about design and desires.

    • Errata: G+ had a chance…
      And, before I forget, if I was not clear: design, desires and being ready (never serve the hot dish cold).

      "Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success."
      Henry Ford

  18. What a trashy article… QUOTE:

    "Now Google is always inventive and seems to be unable to do anything wrong"

    The writer of this article is either ignorant or comes from another planet…

    Google are lying, stealing, cheating, manipulative thieves… it's f***ing obvious to the rest of the real world why Google is failing…

  19. NB: Google have so many law suites and investigations underway that it is unlikely that Google will survive the next ten years… for me thats cool…. I say get these sh**s off the internet.