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Google Plus: Social Networking EPIC FAIL (So Far...)

Google is a behemoth of a company that has done some incredible things. It's search engines dominate market share, it owns YouTube, and it makes massive fortunes on advertising revenue and SEO through its AdWords and AdSense programs and other alliances. They have hundreds of other excellent programs such as Google Places, Google Maps, Analytics, Alerts, apps, among many others I've utilized with great success. Gmail dominates the market and G-Chat via email took over AOL Instant Messenger. They also make a pretty good phone in the form of the Android. They have some of the best and brightest minds in the world working for them, billions in revenue, and stock value in the hundreds of billions of dollars. You would think that they could do absolutely anything in an exciting new way!

However, there are a few areas in which they are seriously lacking. Social networking with a platform that can rival the equally successful Facebook is one of their biggest voids. Their answer to the phenomenon known as Facebook? Google Plus, a mediocre and boring platform that should be anything but. I know it has only been around for about a month, and is technically still in "beta testing mode" although I'm not sure if it just recently officially launched or not. Regardless, it has gotten off to a slow start despite bragging about it's high user numbers. It seems to me that Google +'s high membership numbers are mostly due to people that sign in/up once or twice and never use it again. I see so few status updates on it that I can probably see my 150ish connections updates for the past 2 weeks on the screen without even having to scroll down!

I should like Google Plus because it ties together so many other things I utilize and like such as Gmail, G-Chat, Google Buzz (which is even more of an epic fail but I still use it for some reason), Google Profiles, and your connected sites via Google Profiles. But that is about all it does, and I can pretty much link my status updates and content from other websites to Facebook where they get more traffic instead or on top of Google Plus. What makes Google + different or more unique than Facebook? Not much more than what I just mentioned except for the "Circles" you can divide your contacts by. This can be useful for many people unlike myself that actually want to only share certain information with certain groups of contacts such as coworkers, family, friends, employers, clients, prospects, etc. That way you can make your silly and immature posts and hopefully only your friends will see it, or post family pictures and news without having some weirdos you've never met see them. Maybe you are trying to converse with potential employers or clients without your current or past employers seeing your posts (although LinkedIn or just plain email would seem the better choice for this type of discussion).

I don't mind the (+1) option either on videos, blog posts, or search engine results if it is indeed tied into search engine rankings and can potentially effect traffic, but I don't see it being a game-changer by itself. Either way, the early stages of Google's entry to social media is bland at best and nothing that gets me too excited. I'm sure it will get better as more users sign up, they add more unique features, and 3rd party developers get behind it. But until then, I'm not spending more than 5 minutes a day on the damn thing.

Google +... a Facebook killer it is not. Will it ever become one? Time will tell, but I'm not putting my money on it. I get the same impression and gut feeling about Google + as I felt about Bing when it came out to try and rival Google Search, and they haven't proven me wrong yet despite aggressive marketing. I love Facebook but I am also on Gmail, Google, YouTube, AdSense, and Blogger all the time so I hope Google + is successful. Stiff competition could also cause Facebook to accelerate improvements and lead to even better social networking experiences! I'm just not gonna bet the bank on this one.

Written By Michael J. Schiemer
Owner & Marketing Consultant
RESULTS Business Solutions
Boston, Massachusetts