Full disclosure, I’m very curious to see how much traffic I can get from Google+ vs Twitter or Facebook, and I really needed a fresh post for that … but as I’ve been playing with the new service since day one, I have a few thoughts to share.
I WANT TO SEE GOOGLE TAKE A BITE OUT OF FACEBOOK.
Yes, I have a big Google+ bias. I hate monopolies, think competition is good for users, and always take the side of a challenger… after all, I did not pick the Pepsi side of the cola war by accident.
But I’m afraid it won’t happen. At least not unless Google address some major flaws.
LET ME START WITH THE GOOD STUFF.
Circles. Already talked to death as the most innovative feature.
You can post different things to different people, rather than indiscriminately publish family photos and business blog posts to all friends, colleagues, and to your mom. Genius, and very well executed.
Also worth pointing out, the shape of the network itself.
Contrary to Facebook, Google+ lets you add people without the need for them to add you back. That makes it more public than Facebook, and contrary to GUI appearances, closer to Twitter. It also translates into a much looser definition of friends. G+ lets you add new followers to circles which you can read from and write to… or just ignore. The secret is that when you add someone, they don’t know which circle they’ve been added to…
And there’s a lot of very innovative smaller features:
- 10 people video-chat hangouts
- social YouTube videos viewing
- the “+” button… Google’s version of the “like”
- “always on” integration in the Google home page
- and what we can’t see yet, but for sure is coming – Google apps integration such as shared calendars, shared Google docs etc…
That’s the good. Let’s go to the bad and the ugly.
FLAW 1. SURPRISINGLY CLUNKY.
Yes. Google+ has a great GUI.
But spend a few days trying to manage your circles and You. Will. Go. Crazy.
It’s easy enough to add a few folks, but it just doesn’t work with hundreds. Too hard to manage who goes where… Too much work to click on full profiles just to find out who people are… And the best circle management features only work in some areas of the site.
Also on the clunky side, notifications. Really Google, there really was no way to give it a little bit of hierarchy?
Maybe like: (1) people adding me, (2) comments, +’s and shares on my posts, (3) mentions of me in other people’s posts, (4) every other stuff I’m likely not to care about… like the endless stream of further comments made to every post I comment on. Yes, sometimes I want to follow the conversation. Mostly though, I don’t, so please let me choose.
Fairness to Google, these are not “fatal” flaws. G+ is still in beta, and the Google team have been remarkably quick to adjust based on user feedback. They’ll sort it out.
FLAW 2. IT’S WHERE PEOPLE COME TO TALK ABOUT GOOGLE+
Take a look at the feed from my “Friends” circle.
The reason they’re both empty is that none of my friends or family members have joined the service.
And here’s the trick – I invited them, they did not come.
They just don’t care. Facebook already solved their networking problem. No one loves Facebook, but everybody loves family and friends, and they are all on Facebook. Google+ is arguably a better system… but better is not enough. Google+ has to be better by leaps and bounds to convince you to go through the hassle of uprooting existing content and connections.
So who do you see using the service today?
People like me: twitter-addicts who over-use social media out of professional necessity or personal interest, and are happy to maintain a presence on every corner of the social web. Not a good sign as Google can’t thrive on just the super-users and social media elite.
FLAW 3. WHY SO COMPLICATED?
Take a look at this chart.
No, really: take a look.
It’s not even a joke – it’s really how things work. Bit complicated maybe?
Too many rocket-scientists working at Google…
FLAW 4. CIRCLES GETS IT BACKWARDS.
Circles are great. But it’s a broadcaster’s view of the world. It says “you are in control of what content you share and who you want to share it with”. OK, but the control most people want is over what content they receive and consume.
I don’t want to see the Foursquare check-ins that my friends choose to share with me.
I don’t want to read every stupid funny cartoons a blogger decides to publish as “public” between his great posts.
I simply don’t want to get every post from every person I add to my circles… I just don’t trust them to know what I’ll be interested in more than me.
And of course when brands come on board, I will want to choose to receive the promos, or the ads, or the content….
FLAW 5. IT’S A MASSIVE FIRE-HOSE!
Finally, updates and posts just never stop, and filtering by circle is not enough.
My Twitterville feed is a small sign of things to come – only 70 handpicked people, and it’s already an unbearable stream of clutter. No offense guys: I think the same of my main Twitter feed, but at least tweets are shorter, so I can skim through faster.
There’s a reason 140 works - I don’t want a Twitter-feed with longer posts.
I already hated this idea when deck.ly introduced it, I’m not going to start loving it now.
Ok, gotta stop now. I don’t want to put too much pressure for my next post .
But let me know what you think in the comments section… or on Google+!