Bashing Google+: Fashionable, but not Smart

Pinata time
Image by Monkey at Large

Many social media wonks bash Google+ at social media conferences and in online conversations. Doubting the new social network is the fashionable thing to do. Yet you have to wonder if this absolute negative view is professionally smart.

While the network has not surpassed Facebook and to date lacks the business impact of established networks Twitter and LinkedIn, it has developed its own community. Engagement waned after a stellar launch, but new voices continue to join Google+ and more of Google’s core applications have been integrated into the network. As a result, traffic has increased. AddThis recently reported that Google+ had its third highest in bound traffic week to date.

Google continues integrating its entire ecosystem into the + social network, and the biggest social chip is being added to the mix — YouTube. As YouTube (and Chrome) become more integrated, Google+ will only gather further steam.

Keep in mind, my attitude about Google+ has been conservative with a wait and see approach. As time has continued doubt remains, but Google+ is consistently a top 10 referrer to my blog. In general, because of the larger ecosystem, the smart thing to do is to begin engaging mostly because of search benefits, and to protect brand reputation.

Regardless of pros or cons, a professional’s job is to view Google+ with an analytical eye. Otherwise, it is hard to provide objective counsel.

History Shows Google+ Won’t Beat Facebook

Much of the Google+ negativity finds its basis in the over exuberance of some social media experts who initially lauded Google+ as the great Facebook killer. But marketing history shows that it is almost impossible to unseat an entrenched market leader like Facebook head-to-head.

When competing against a dominant leader with no major differences in technology, distribution or product, most companies cannot win. Avis’s “We Try Harder” positioning against Hertz rental cars was an acknowledgement that it could not escape second in the marketplace.

Ironically, Google is one of those rare companies who has knocked out a market leader. In the 1990s Yahoo! had a lock in the search marketplace. But in 2000 it lost its lead to Google, which won the market with its unique search algorithm.

Yet Google’s success over Yahoo was due to an improvement in technology. Without some sort of major game changing technology or major collapse on Facebook’s part, Google+ will likely end up competing for second place in traffic and page views against Twitter and LinkedIn.


  • I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s wonks and less-than-smart folks that are “bashing” Google+, mate. I know some incredibly smart folks who have dissected Google+ with a critical eye and found it wanting.

    From lacklustre business pages to the poor Hangout quality, or the lack of a quality archive system for posts, there’s a lot missing from G+.

    Remember, this is Google we’re talking about; it’s not exactly a company that doesn’t have the ability to make these basics better from the get-go.

    • I hear you: A lot of folks criticized Twitter in the 2008 realm (and I was one of them) for the same reasons. All of those outages. Twitter was always down. Remember the old Fail Whale? I still find that Twitter sucks in comparison to other competitive products.

      That being said, Twitter is still here.  Why? Because people kept using it. So I need to use it because it’s my job. My job is to make decisions based on how people are using media, not whether I like it (unfortunately).

  • I love the G+ and have had more awesome conversations there with friends and strangers alike in faster time than any other social network.  What is stupid is any proclamations of it being the latest Facebook (or whatever) killer.  Just one more bit of proof that some people are not worth listening to despite their weblebrity.

    • I couldn’t agree more.  That whole episode of G+ Nirvana did more to hurt Google+ than those voices imagine.  It was stupid, and not at all based in reality or history given how these networks tend to evolve, much less how competitive marketing works.

  • This is more of a personal experience with G+.  I’m planning a move to Savannah and after months of poking around different websites I couldn’t figure out what neighborhood to live in. I have specific criteria but was completely lost. I searched on G+ for people in Savannah who looked like they had been living and working there awhile and appeared to be in my age range. (I don’t want to look at neighborhoods with a demographic of 20 year old singles or retirees) I circled about five people and one responded asking about why I had circled him. I explained and he offered to talk with me live.

    We had a 30 minute phone conversation that gave me an incredible amount of great information. I accomplished more in 30 minutes than I had in 30 hours of poking around the Internet.

    Bonus: in the six degrees of separation, he knows of a perspective author so we may end up doing business.

    • Glad you are enjoying the network, since you are publishing Chris Brogan’s book on the topic ;)  Hope you had a happy birthday.

  • I couldn’t agree more. I’m finding a higher level of signal to noise on G+, better and more engaging conversations and more control over whom I’m addressing and how. It’s not a Facebook killer but certainly with such a large market there’s room for more than one social networking toy?

  • I couldn’t agree more. I’m finding a higher level of signal to noise on G+, better and more engaging conversations and more control over whom I’m addressing and how. It’s not a Facebook killer but certainly with such a large market there’s room for more than one social networking toy?

    • It kind of reminds me of when Fox launched its broadcast network.  Much was said about how it would fail. It found its niche with sports, and later expanded with hits like America’s Idol.  There was room when all said there was none.

    • I’m writing a blog post right now about competition. I think it was the Red Hot Chili Peppers who said they wanted more rock bands when they won a grammy. We all need competition. And, to Geoff’s point below, competition makes room when everyone thinks there is none.

      • In a perfect long tail world – there are a lot more smaller hits than blockbusters.  Or at least there should be. 

  • I think many people are looking at Google+ to be the next (insert social network) killer. But it’s a social network built by a giant search company. I don’t think it’ll kill any social network because it’s not very social. It will, however, give marketers more data to mine and give Google a way to customize searches for you. I’m a fan of searching something and finding my friends also have read/recommended/used it. That’s what Google+ is doing – more of that.

    When you look at it as a social network, it doesn’t fit the bill. So I understand why some are negative about it.

    The only thing I don’t like is it hasn’t integrated all of its apps yet. When it does that, and now that I can schedule posts in there, it’s going to be pretty incredible.

    • Yeah, I see it only increasing in function, traffic and use.  It won’t kill xxx, but it will certainly compete for its fair share of time.  Nice post on the 8 trends yesterday!

  • I had a GREAT b’day – thank you. Best part was my homemade card from Maria. Too sweet!

    I didn’t share because of a book I’m publishing – that would be kind of icky :-) I shared because I was really impressed with how well it worked out for me personally and how much time it saved me. In this case, G+ had something for me that FB and Twitter didn’t which was the ability to find easily find people using keywords and have them approach me or vice versa without having to be “approved” as a friend or followed in order to make personal contact. just worked for me in this case.

    There’s a lot of noise on G+ but I do love the ability to filter. My circles range from Friends to Interesting Strangers. I like that. Then again, I was late to use Twitter and I never really took the time to learn it so I find it hard. FB, for me, is for friends who don’t roll their eyes when I post about my child and dogs. LIke you…right?? Ha.

  • I count all of you guys as far smarter than I could ever hope to be, but I struggle with G+. I have since day one. It’s not that it isn’t a nice network, it’s not that there arent some amazing people and amazing conversations to be had there. It’s that I havent seen a single reason that my customers (non-SM folk) would move away from Facebook. I see how this is good for Google, I see how this is good (potentially) for SEO, I even think there is some amazing potential in hangouts, however flawed they might be at the moment). What I don’t believe is that Circles or Hangouts are enough to get the average consumer to jump ship.

    It may happen one day and I will run over willingly. That said, with limited resources, I can’t help but think I’m better off fishing where my fish currently are and simply keeping an eye, rather than a presence, where they might one-day be. 

    I’ve certainly “bashed it” and by bash, I mean questioned the need for it, but it’s not out of like or dislike. Never has been. I’m actually liking it more and more personally. My geeks are there. Just not my customers… yet.

    • I think you gave the best reason not to participate on G+.  That is that your customers aren’t there.  On a case by case basis, this is what matters.

  • I’m fine with public doubting- skepticism is healthy, and I have plenty– I like G+, but currently see it like Twitter in 2007- the hacks and flacks are there, but noone else. 

    Declaring it dead on arrival? I agree, too soon to tell, but I have just as strong an allergic reaction to people declaring G+ the savior on launch. Google has a lot to prove in sticking with products, and I’m not anointing anything the “Facebook killer” or whatever until the mass of people on Facebook actually makes the move. And that will take time, evolution and additional development. I do have issues, for example, with someone declaring they will write a book on G+ for business months before business accounts were allowed, or anyone even know what they look like (and Yes, I mean Chris Brogan’s book; I have no problem attaching names to a criticism, it’s only fair- but just as fair, I’m willing to wait to see what the book says when it’s out)

    For now? Staking a place, liking features, interacting with my peers, holding hope that the great mass of stillborn corporate pages will become useful… we’re in the early stages of a process. 

    Patience. All sides (and I pray that Google shows more patience than it has with other products in this space). 

  • A few days ago it was “Be nice to people on social media” (I thought it was a guest post until I realized you had actually written it. Yeah, I was surprised.) 
    Today, it’s “Be nice to Google+” (are you really looking for “professionally smart” on the social spaces where stupidity and redundancy reign? Yeah, I’m surprised again.)
    I’m expecting a “Be nice to Charlie Sheen” post tomorrow (I won’t be surprised. Promise.)

    • LOL, Minor correction: This post isn’t saying be nice. It’s saying look at this thing like a professional, not like a user who is pissing on it.

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