According to Paul Allen (founder of Ancestry.com) Google+ recently passed 10 million users after only 2 weeks. These numbers may not be extremely accurate, but they seem to support the widely held belief that Google+ is gaining users really quickly and there is a lot of buzz about the new social media platform.
Granted, Mashable and every other social media, online marketing, and SEO blog have had non-stop coverage and reviews of Google+ since it debuted, but will the initial hype translate into long-term success for Google? Probably not. And here’s why.
1) Average Joe Webuser doesn’t know about it
All the tech blogs are humming with Google+, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that those of us who are early adopters and social media mavens are a relatively small portion of users. And even if we think something is really cool, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world will follow suit. In fact, outside my social circle of tech-heads, no one is talking about Google+. No one. They don’t know what it is. And, more importantly, they don’t have any reason to join—which leads to point #2:
2) Average Joe Webuser is on Facebook and doesn’t want to join another social network
As much as we like to talk about the way that the entire world is super-jazzed about social media and always looking for new ways to connect with people, the reality is that most people joined Facebook because they were prodded into doing so by family and friends and probably check it once a day or a few times a week. The average social media user didn’t weigh all the pros and cons of all the social networks and decide Facebook was the best. They simply joined because that’s where all their friends and family were.
In fact, what surprised me the most when I cracked open by Google+ plus profile was how very few friends and family I saw in my potential friends list. When you open up Google+ for the first time, Google mines your Gmail account to show you possible connections. The problem is, I never use Gmail to communicate with my friends; I use Facebook. So the vast majority of the Gmail contacts are business acquaintances, people I applied for jobs with, and other people who I barely know or who I don’t care to connect with through Facebook.
As soon as average Joe Webuser gets on Google+ and realizes none of his friends are on it, he’ll be done right there.
3) Google is not cool
I hate to say it, but Google is kind of like your office IT manager. Sure, he’s useful when there is something wrong with your computer and you might have a pleasant conversation in the break room, but the relationship ends there. You don’t hang out after work. Mainly because he’s generally socially awkward, and you have no interest in LARPing with him on the weekends.
Google makes some great tool for search and analytics, but they are not cool or sexy, which is a factor in whether or not people will join their club.
Although Facebook is still considerably less cool than it was back before your mom joined, it’s still a lot cooler than Google, mainly because you already know how it works and all your friends are already there.
It’s not that Google didn’t come up with a really cool social media platform or that it doesn’t have some really cool functionality—it did and it does. But the social media war has already been waged and Facebook won.
Although hordes of social media gurus and tech-heads will jump on Google+, Average Joe Webuser has already invested his time and effort into another social media platform where all his friends already hang out and where he’s already uploaded all his pictures and videos—not to mention where he already plays Farmville and uses Goodreads.
What Google may be forgetting while trying to go up against Facebook is that social media is “social.” And you can’t be social by yourself.