What is a social network anyway?
Ok, so you can make an argument about what a social network really is, but what you can’t deny is that the Google Plus network has no features that resemble a place on the web to be advertised to. But after all, it makes sense, considering that what Google does boils down to advertising in the end.
So what makes it seem like an advertising avenue than a legitimate place to socialize with people you know? And the answer to that is this: it is the way they collect and show your information.
This sounds familiar to a techie that knows about the behind the scenes of Facebook (which by the way looks weird to me having a capital letter), and of course everyone else who doesn’t know how Facebook really works, just that it does. A quick explanation, is that Facebook analyzes each person’s feed to give you an ordered list of what they may want to see the most. There is too much information being posted by everyone you know to show you everything in one page, so Facebook tries to order this of importance to show you the most important updates first. Pretty ingenious really.
So how is Google + different, and why don’t people use it the same way?
Both Facebook and Google put together a list of pages that you follow, pages that you like (or +1… I guess), or groups or “communities” that you are a part of, and give you updates on all of them at once. But what is each one focusing on? Google is focused on bringing you content from what you follow, where Facebook is focused on bring you content from your friends and family, and of course random pages that you like. Right when you join, you are encouraged to join “communities” in Google+. On Facebook, you are encouraged to find people you know, and just “like pages”, rather than join them.
So a main point that this comes down to, is would you rather see information from random people in communities or posts from friends and ocassional updates from pages? The answer is: occasionally both, but more likely from friends. And who may want random posts? Maybe smaller, less general communities will offer some value, right? Probably could.
But what do these communities offer? Well it is a fantastic place to get your word out to a good number of people. And you see where I am going with this… this is what advertising is. People who post about what people may most want to read will be the ones in the spotlight with Google+.
Don’t get me wrong though with this, Google communities are honestly a great concept and I have made my own myself. But Google + as a whole network falls short in being a platform that people want to get updates from.
Why won’t people post their photos and statuses on Google+?
Honestly, I’ve used Google+ for a little while now, mostly to create Community pages and meet and talk with people there. But when it comes to photos, I can see it becoming a really confusing interface to use. Google automatically can sync photos from your phone to your Google profile. This is truely a fantastic service that has a ton of potential! But when you land on your profile, it shows your photo highlights, as if Google somehow knows what your photo highlights are for you? So you click to see all your photos, but they are not a part of your page just yet. In fact, you can’t even add the photos to an album easily unless you click the small checkmark and share it with arbituary circles, or go into the individial photo and click a “more” drop-down. How anti-intuitive! Why can we not easily organize our photos, when we can so easily organize our ‘circles’? This is a question I would ask the designers of the interface of “Plus”.
Is Google+ a good place to put my business information?
Google + is actually a great place to put a page of information about a business, especially after they integrated services with google maps and youtube. However, take the service with a grain of salt. While it is a great place to have some short ‘n sweet info for a person passing by, that is what most of the traffic will be: a quick glance at the company profile. I would spend just a little time putting in the information that people can quickly reference, but that is all the effort you would really need.
Should I get involved with Google+?
That is the thing. People are not using Google + very much, and probably because of some of the reasons I mentioned above. When you create a social network, you need to explain to people how they recommend you use their service. People like to be on the same page with each other, and not “be going in blind”, so-to-speak. People want to understand the concept of what is being presented, so that they are not guessing at what they should be using it. If it is too complicated, redesign the interface. If the concept is not understood, explain it. People like a standard to follow, but the freedom to explore past it if they would like, and that standard really hasn’t been established that well with this platform. Remember the campaign with the “YOU” circled with a bunch of arrows around it? Its great that Plus is about ME, but what can I really use it for, and how can I use it? It is probably too complicated to explain to many people, and if it is not complicated, then maybe too disorganized.
TL;DR version: Google focuses on generic communities, does not focus on a simple photo organization service, and does not focus on connecting friends and family as much as Facebook does.