OK, Google...I am trying. Really I am. So #WTH- Why This Hard?
I don’t know about you, but I am finding it difficult to adopt and adapt to Google’s social platform. The main reason? To me, it’s still just another social tool and not yet an intuitive behavior. I’m not running to upload pictures of my recent afternoon with the girls, or post the location and a picture of the amazing burger I’m enjoying. With G+, I am still trying to figure out where my friends are, and apparently, I didn’t get the invite to the cool kids “hangout.”
Last night in a Facebook exchange with an industry peer, my friend echoed what the vast majority of users are saying about Google Plus: “It’s like going to a playground, where no one is playing.”
“Yeah,” I responded, “...and hopping on the seesaw by yourself.”
Last week during a chat at #SXSW, Guy Kawasaki pressed Vic Gundotra (Google’s VP for Engineering), on the perception that, right now; G+ is a virtual ghost town. Gundotra, in his now famous response, defended the giant.
“Make sure you’re using it correctly,” he responded with a laugh. I’m not sure how many laughed.
While I found his statement amusing, I think it gets to the heart of the problem. I don’t want to have to learn how to use it correctly. If was intuitive, it would become an ingrained social behavior for me and countless others. Like with Facebook, everyone would be on the playground, and playing, not just hanging by the fence.
Gundotra was also quoted in a recent New York Times interview. “Not only is Google Plus not a ghost town,” he said, “…we have never seen anything grow this fast. Ever.”
The company recently shared its Google Plus user numbers, citing that nearly 50 million people have created a Google Plus account and use Google+ optimized services daily, totaling about 100 million active users in a 30-day period.
Hmm...let’s break this down. “Google+ optimized services” include Google.com, the Android Marketplace, and YouTube, so in reality the hard numbers can’t be attributed strictly to Google+. In a view from outside the company, a report released last month by ComScore, says Google Plus users spend about three minutes a month on the social network. By comparison, ComScore says that people spend an average 405 minutes a month on Facebook, the service Google Plus is trying to displace.
So to what does Gundotra attribute to Google Plus's success? Advertising. He says that Google ads, where someone has clicked the +1 button, currently yield a 5 to 10 percent click-through-rate uplift on any ad for a company that has the “social annotation” on their websites.
Ok, how many of you are actually clicking on that fun little +1 button? Rarely? Yeah, me either.
What I do find compelling is that Gundotra went on to explain in that NYT interview that G+ ads differ from other social competitors ads, (such as Facebook and LinkedIn), as the Google+ ads serve up a “socially enhanced ad at the time of intent” rather than a randomly placed ad that pops up in your social feed after you mention a particular topic. If I am searching for a new #iPad case and people in my Google Plus Circles have +1’ed a particular one, Google will serve me the ad for that case. The current flaw with that theory? I’m not utilizing my Google Plus Circles, and no one I know is sitting around clicking +1 buttons. #FAIL.
At the end of the day, like all good things, use and appreciation of Google Plus is going to take some time. And if that doesn’t happen soon, it seems Google will continue to be content with politely bullying us around the playground until we all hop on the seesaw.