Chances are that if you were looking for an invitation to Google Plus, you’ve gotten one by now, right? Google doesn’t seem to be playing that Disney-game of opening the window for access every once in a while any more and the “Invite more people” icon seems fairly permanently affixed to my sidebar.
So my boss asks me this morning: What’s the deal with Google Plus? He doesn’t get it. And frankly, since 80-90% of all postings to Google Plus seem to be variations of “What do I do now?” I can’t imagine that this is an isolated question. Here is my perspective.
One: Google Plus won’t work until everyone you know is on it and has been assigned a circle. You don’t remember the way Facebook rolled out, where it was only to college kids, then anyone with a college email address, then the rest of us. This process of opening in ever-widening concentric circles ensured that when you jumped in, most of everyone you wanted to talk to was already on. Not withstanding this weird “Lets let them trickle in for a few weeks before we open the doors” model means that the first few people end up walking into a mostly-empty room. In the next few weeks, as everyone and their dog who gets social joins in, we’ll see how many of your friends stop posting to facebook and start posting to G+.
Two: G+ is an empty hub. A year from now (if not significantly less), G+ will be your home page. It will have your Gmail, your Gcalendar, Photos, etc. It’s already in that dark header across most of Google properties. G+ will be the place where social and non-social intersect. And until step one happens, this step can’t happen.
Three: This is a personal medium. Google has already stated that it doesn’t want companies and brands to set up G+ pages… yet. They have some sort of plan and it will probably be some sort of Facebook Pages thing. Though frankly, if 1+ takes off, people won’t need to build G+ Fan Pages: they will just use their own web site. Example: Aspirin would normally build a fan page, but instead, it just asks its fans to +1 its home page to show up on their G+ pages/feeds.
In the end, G+ has an opportunity to make a serious challenge on Facebook, which has been on top for a long time now (Bye bye MySpace and LiveJournal!). This much time without a challenge probably makes FB feel pretty invincable, to the point where it is pursuing a “Let’s just *be* the internet” strategy (much like AOL in the late 1990’s where your great aunt wouldn’t ever leave AOL, but felt like she was on “the online”). That’s a bad strategy, especially for us users (please note FB’s recent privacy stances which can be summed up as “You have as much privacy as we feel like giving you, you Farmville/status addicts”), so even a failing G+ that pushes back against FB is a win for all of us.
Comments are open and are checked semi-regularly, but you should argue with me via @digital_pharma. It’s fun!