Why Google+ will fail

Search engine giant Google launched the beta of their own social network Google+ a couple of months ago, and while a lot of people scrambled to get an invitation, the novelty has started to wear off slightly.

Google needs to rethink their social strategy (image source: Google)

It’s the classic example (or brilliant marketing tactic) that people most desire what they can’t have, and while only a handful of people were initially invited to be part of the test run, users found a couple of loopholes in order to gain access.

But with users able to now send a limit of 150 official invitations, the need to join Google+ has faded. The initial hype has passed and after having some fun in the beginning, users are migrating back to their preferred choice of social media networks.

The main reason why Google+ will fail, is that a lot of users are just posting uninteresting junk, which leaves the recipient’s stream cluttered. Users can filter these out, but nobody has the time (or the effort) to sift through garbage.

With many websites and apps that cater for multiple social networks, it’s also a bit of a bugbear when a user posts the same content on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in one go. Twitter and Facebook are fundamentally different in design, leaving Google+ to repeat the news since users will check those sites in order.  Like they say, “two’s a company, three’s a crowd”.

When is the last time you heard someone say “Let me Google+ that”?

While Google is trying to do things a bit differently, they have essentially copied other social networks and rebranded them as their own. Google launched the +1 button, which works in the same way as Facebook’s “Like” button, but is there any practical application for it?

When someone +1’s an article, where does the +1 go? There is no clear indication on Google+ as to a list of all the +1’d articles, so it falls by the wayside – and becomes redundant.  Why should users +1 an article? Is there any real benefit or reward for clicking on it? If Google plans to incorporate it with their search results in Google, a lot of websites will lose their positions as only a small fraction of people actually that the time to +1 something.

And then there are the Circles. Circles are to Google+ as to what Friends Lists are to Facebook. The thinking behind the circles are that you can group certain contacts together and only share with selected people. Well, Facebook does that as well, so it becomes another moot point.

Google+ is awfully starting to look like a Facebook clone…

Although Facebook isn’t perfect, it must be said that they constantly introduce new features and functionality, and recently added the functions for including a location and who users are with, in the Status Update window. From there users can set who gets to see the status, i.e. Friends List.

Google+ also incorporates Hangouts into users’ main page. Any user can create a Hangout, a video chat room, and wait for other users to join in. Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of social, compares it to a group of friends sitting on a porch. If you happen to walk by, it’s almost rude not to say hi. But who has the time for a random, friendly video chat when Skype and others provide the same function? Even Gmail has video chat functionality…

The overall design of Google+ is also a bit cluttered. Today’s user prefers sleek, clean designs and Google+ just isn’t it. Looking at a user’s backend page, you have the contacts, circles and sparks on the left-hand side, while the right side of the page is occupied by people in their circles, suggested friends, invitations and hangout. The info stream is straight down the middle, squeezed in between all the clutter.

In comparison, it looks a lot like Facebook, but the latter has a bit more of a clean design. Facebook and Twitter seems to actually care about the users and the info that is being shared, while Google+’s design seems to facilitate as much info (useless of otherwise) as possible.

Although it’s hard to believe, not everyone has a Gmail account, but for users to open a Google+ account, they have to create one. Gmail is already one of the biggest mail clients on the internet, and it’s actually a clever drive to shift them into the number one spot. More Gmail users mean more power, which means more revenue.

Taking all these factors into account, Google+ is actually rather boring in the long run. Users overshare their information, which gets cluttered in between poor design and useless news and video clips.

Freelance cartoonist and writer James Francis sums it up rather nicely. “It’s a mixture of boredom and information overflow at the same time. Also, I can’t help but notice that a lot of people just post unappealing rubbish. I might as well go hang around Reddit or Digg.”

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor


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