I've been thinking about writing this post for a while, but I didn't want to offend all the 10 people using it... Okay, that was a cheap shot. Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, here are my thoughts on the next big thing, the social network that is supposed to kill Facebook - the one and only Google+!
Google said they didn't want to create another Facebook, so they went ahead and did the exact same thing anyway with a little twist - you can control how you want to share and what you want to see by adding people to so called circles based on interest, location, level of hatred or whatever tickles your fancy. While the circles metaphor sounds good in theory, the sad reality is that everyone is posting funny cat pictures only with an occasional "Is Facebook gonna die already" rant and some reshared posts from one of the top 10 power users in between, making the circles completely useless unless you don't mind that you get the same content in all of them.
But why would you find proper content in a place which is basically designed to be a spamming device in order to achieve the fastest growth possible? We all know Google is desperate to prove itself in the social arena and since they had a couple of failed attempts already and can't really afford to have another blunder they do every trick possible to inflate the numbers. Would you like to have a gmail account? Now you have a G+ account as well! What, no friends? Hey, here are 500 contacts in a shared circle, add them with just a click! It's called the "500 Best Photographers on Google+"! None of them are posting about photography but at least they are going to turn your feed into a garbage dump that's impossible to manage! Awesome, isn't it?
Well, social media influencers obviously thrive in this kind of environment and most of them churn out content at an alarming rate. As you can imagine, anyone who is aggressive and smart enough can easily exploit some of Google+'s features to build a huge follower base in a relatively short time. But with all this forced growth how many people who add you really care about what you have to say? When I add a circle with the "Top 200 Brand Pages", how many am I really going to be interested in? Isn't it going to take a lot of time to weed out the ones that I don't want? Do the developers honestly think users are going to organize people and brand pages all day?
Let's talk about some other things that are supposed to set Google+ apart from Facebook. Some fans can't get enough of Hangouts, which is a video conferencing tool for multiple people. I think it's a neat feature, but hardly a Facebook killer. I usually prefer to chat and there are tons of people who are like that. I mean who wants to be on camera all the time, especially when you're at home in your underpants? Usually it's a lot more convenient just to type.
People have been hating on Facebook's messed up privacy for a long time and Google+ is praised as place where your privacy is finally respected. While I agree that many of the concerns regarding Facebook are legit, I think the biggest problem is oversharing in general and no social network is ever going to solve that. Since I had my fair share of privacy surprises with Google products before, I fail to see how my data is safer with the number one data harvesting corporation in the world. I guess I'll have to take their word for it, right? The fact of the matter is that both of these companies make a ton of money off our personal profile, browsing habits etc. and neither is better than the other.
What's my personal experience with Google+? Well, it is possible to find interesting people you wouldn't be able to get to know otherwise, but it's a quite frustrating and long process. The key to success is to actively reach out to other people and make yourself heard, posting on your wall in itself is not enough to grow your network. This is where circles could be really helpful but they ultimately fail because there's a lot of irrelevant content and you waste a lot of time looking for valuable material you can comment on. As for me, I don't think I have the time for this. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Google+ doesn't seem to have the solution to any of my problems.
So, is Facebook going to die then? While the sudden death of Mark Zuckerberg's network seems to be on the Christmas wish list of hundreds of frustrated Google+ fans, I'm not sure if that's going to happen any time soon. My opinion is that at this point Google+ has little to offer to make people switch from Facebook and it's not just because everyone's friends are still there. Currently it really feels like a watered down version of Facebook with few features and a lot of noise in the feeds. A good example is that Events - which is a very popular feature on Facebook - has just been added, a year after its launch.
That having said, I have no idea about Google's future plans and of course they are an amazing company who certainly have the resources and enough talented people to make Google+ work, but one thing is sure - Facebook isn't going to go down easy.