Google+ Reality Check
Reality To Soon Set In On Google+
Reality To Soon Set In On Google+
by

Typically in situations like this, I think, “God … everyone and their brother is talking, Tweeting and writing about Google+, I should write something different just to be a beacon of freshness in the stale drawer.” But I’m on vacation and haven’t been thinking about much more than my kids and family this week. When I’ve take a moment or two to jump online and see what I’ve missed, I’ve been experimenting with G+ just to see if I have any relevant thoughts to bring to the table for you.

But I’ve noticed a few things that need to be brought to the discussion to center us all a bit.

The biggest thing that stands out to me is that too many tech/social/digital dorks are proclaiming it the holy grail without putting it into proper context. Steve Rubel has pointed out consistently in his stream that the demographic makeup of Plusers is still very tech and engineer/developer heavy. What that means to me is that it’s the echo chamber’s echo chamber. The Scoble Clones and Brogan Heads think G+ is the Shizzle, so the, “next Facebook,” just happened.

Chris Brogan's Facebook Avatar
Chris Brogan's Facebook avatar announcing he has moved to Google Plus

Chris Brogan, in fact, has even placed an “I have moved” avatar on his Facebook page.

My first reaction, weeks ago, to all this Facebook vs. Google+ hype is still my reaction: Why does there have to be a winner? People’s time spent online is not a zero-sum game. Facebook and Google have, do and will co-exist. It’s like Mac or PC … neither is going to kill the other. Right brain people are probably still Mac/Facebook types. Left brainers are more PC/Google+ types. But even that is a stereotype. To each their own, which implies that some will stay on Facebook while others follow like lemmings to G+ … or perhaps find usefulness for themselves there without jumping on the Geek King and Queen bandwagons.

Honestly, there’s a lot to like about Google+. One thing I don’t, however, at least from a marketing standpoint, is the majority of people aren’t there. They’re on Facebook. We also don’t yet know how G+ is going to handle brands and businesses. There’s a lot left to be determined. Jumping ship on a 700-million person behemoth of a marketplace is just short-sighted and hasty.

That’s not to say that G+ won’t wind up being a great market for brands. But when you look at what the A-listers are saying about Google+ and its benefits, they’re not asking the right questions. Yes, there are a ton of comments and a nice boost in traffic that result from you posting your musings to your minions, Robert. But your minions are early tech adopters who are going to comment and click no matter what platform you’re on. The only reason Google+ looks more impressive is because it’s the one network you’re sharing content on that isn’t also populated by real people, marketers and, yes, spammers, that dilute the streams of everyone and make clicking on anything less attractive.

As soon as five in every 10 posts that show up in someone’s stream are a blogger pimping their latest attempt at being Chris Brogan or some company trying to get us to enter their sweepstakes for free tickets to watch Chris Angel masturbate, Scoble’s links to Whatchamacallit.com will get lost in the shuffle.

The reality is this: Google smacked a home run with this attempt at having a viable social network and/or sharing platform. It’s relevant, it’s going to be important for individuals and businesses. The way Google processes and scores shares, Plus-Ones and content funneled through G+ and applies it to search results will likely make it critically important for businesses and soon.

But it’s not the end-all and be-all. It never will be. Facebook isn’t dead. Though, I honestly think Twitter should be scared shitless that it’s easier and more compelling to share content on G+ than Twitter. In a couple of weeks, G+ will probably surpass Twitter in the number of users who can see those shares, too.

At the end of the day, all three said networks are major players in the social sharing and networking landscape. Ignoring one over the other because Chris Brogan “moved” or Scoble discovered the comment limit is not smart planning for digital marketers.

Stay the course with what you’re doing. Wait for the brand-permissions and guidelines to come from Google on the Plus platform. Experiment with it for yourself to know how it works and how non-linear you have to be thinking to optimize the use of Circles.

And make smart moves that you can track, measure and report on.

If you’d like to follow my content and experimenting on Google+, you can find me here.

Your thoughts? The comments are yours!

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About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at JasonFalls.com.
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  • this is a great post. lately everything on the web is about google +

  • Googel + is really increasing their popularity ..thanks for your nice post..know more about googel plus here
    ???????

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  • It just felt good reading that.  Now I don’t have to write it.  But I probably still will.  Thanks!  :)

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  • Darlene

    Ahhhh.  A breath of fresh air in the midst of unbelievable hype.  Thanks, Jason!  I appreciate your insight here.  Another issue is, of course, that there are very few women, so those who target them will not get much benefit from Google+ just yet.

  • Darlene

    Ahhhh.  A breath of fresh air in the midst of unbelievable hype.  Thanks, Jason!  I appreciate your insight here.  Another issue is, of course, that there are very few women, so those who target them will not get much benefit from Google+ just yet.

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  • “the echo chamber’s echo chamber”. Well said. I am finding it’s my Go To place for when I have more time to chat, to think, and to consider other points of view before jumping into threads and conversations. It’s lighter weight than blogging, heavier than Twitter or Facebook…. kinda sorta filling the space in between. Nice post,

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  • My biggest concern is privacy on Google+.  People are able to search for your profile without having an account and glean your email.

  • Thank you, this is one of the first blogs I have read that says there doesn’t have to be a Facebook/Google+ winner, so thank you for that. I completely agree, especially at first. In the end yes its possible it will do to Facebook what Facebook did to MySpace, but it’s still very early to proclaim that for certain yet for sure.

  • Hi Jason Falls, A good analysis. Keep up the good work of a researcher. Thanks for sharing
    Best Regards
    Phil

  • Good points Jason!
    I’m enjoying G+ myself, but still haven’t figured out how it will really play out. So far it’s just exactly how you described it, an echo chamber of the already existing social media echo chamber, but that’s not to say it won’t gain it’s own voice eventually.
    I think it’s too early to make too many assumptions about G+, but it will be exciting to see how it evolves with more people getting in and the addition of brands etc.

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  • Ummm. Mac/Google+, PC/FB. #justsayin :)

  • Anonymous

    “Right brain people are probably still Mac/Facebook types. Left brainers are more PC/Google+ types.”

    I know you call it a stereotype and you are correct cause I loath PC’s and NEVER particularly liked FB to be honest – BUT – I do Loooove Apple and I do Loooove Google :)

    Actually you should have said left brain Microsoft/Skype/Facebook types and right brain Mac/Twitter/Google types :)

    Jason I’ve used Google since 2004.. I use Google Docs, Gmail, Translate, Calendar, Google Voice, Chat, Reader, Maps and Search practically every single time I touch a computing device… These are real tools that people like me use. If I have an opportunity to remain under one banner and have all my friends family and associates all under one roof then by Golly I’m gonna do my damnedest to try to bring everyone to that place where an integrated solution such as this is plane smart and rational. It truly beats scattering across multiple platforms…

    The other big thing for me is philosophy…  Facebook doesn’t represent my core values or interests philosophically… Google on the other hand has progressive ideas and they have proven time and again to represent the core interests that I support and believe in… That alone is a HUGE reason to support one over the other… at least in my mind.

    – bendrix

  • HennegV

    Danny,

    I diagree with you on a few of your points. First, yes most of Google + users are the early adopters, it’s still in limited beta. That is the reason most people aren’t there and that’s not an accurate way to measure this platform and determine what the masses will do when they can get access? When Google Docs, Gmail, Google Reader, YouTube, Google Search, calendar, ect.. Once they get there I think there are a few ‘simple’ but very little things (which is exactly what Twitter is. Small 140 characters, easy to use, and others.

    I think most people are enthralled with a couple features that overall seem simple but are very useful.

    I don’t think your being fair, especially to @ChrisBrogan if Google overall does one thing well. Keeping their products integrated and they keep innovating. Always. You said yourself you’ve been off the radar lately.

    The others will survive as long as a major company (I’m not mentioning any names) does a Delicious to their product or a Flip.

    Lets wait and see.

    VickyHennegan @eeus

  • “People’s time spent online is not a zero-sum game.”

    That’s true. But a person’s time is. What surprises me is right in line with another of your observations. Before last week Twitter was the service I engaged with the most. Now I find my time being split between G+ and Facebook. Twitter is getting the short end of my time, mainly because I’m seeing more engagement and conversations on G+. 

    if you had asked me before I started on G+ I would have been sure Facebook would be the one I neglected first. Twitter should be very concerned.

    • For me, it just means having G+ up all the time, on one monitor, with Tweetdeck on the other.  I still like Twitter and think it will remain vibrant as the method for getting news out quickly.  I don’t really care if one wins or not.  I’ll use the one that remains when the SM wars end.  If they all survive, I will probably mostly use Twitter and G+.

  • I totally agree. The bleeding edge actions definitely don’t predict/lead where the mainstream should go. Definitely not. Great post, Jason. 

  • How funny. You refer to ‘tech/social/digital dorks’ as if you’re not one yourself. You constantly refer to ‘Scoble’ and ‘Brogan’ – I never read either – please don’t assume that just because you read their every word, we all do. You say ‘to each their own’ and then in the next sentence refer to people who’ve set up a G+ account as ‘lemmings’. Honestly, your article’s a confused, largely nonsensical, contradictory stream of consciousness. Next time wait till you get back from vacation before regaling us all with your blinkered views.

    • Feel better? Hope so. You’re welcome to your opinion. As am I. And if my
      blinkered views bother you so much, remember that blogs and social channels
      are all opt-in. You dot have to read or follow me. I don’t intend to upset
      people so.

  • I like Google + the most. If +1 works, it will not only improve search quality, but also make ads more engaging.   This may potentially improve Google’s ads, and eventually may turn into a core social product that can expand in new directions

  • I absolutely resent the notion that all the G+ excitement comes from Brogan and Scoble. I’ve been a fan of Google since it was a Beta Search Engine. Also, I was on Orkut, then Wave and on both occasions I was not pleased with the results. I was not surprised they both did not take off. Facebook however took a long time to get where it is. The numbers on G+ on catch up mode is absolutely amazing but not surprising. 

    We have all been waiting for the next Facebook because Facebook sucks. After the Nth iteration, Facebook has not learned from its users. Google on the other hand has. G+ is the result of that. And, definitely, only time will tell. For now, we wait and continue the conversation. On my part, I will continue to spread the plus vibe and get more people on board just so we get better experiences from both players. 

    • Fair, Ari. But keep in mind my observations are A) Based on my usage and B) Based on the fact that the majority of the public conversation around Google+ stems from the social influencers using it. 

      I don’t share your opinion of Facebook, but certainly can see your perspective. And I agree that the more people we can convince to join the Plus party, the more useful it will be. Thanks for the comment

    • Anonymous

      Funny, because the most prominent blogger that keeps showing up in my stream is fricking Chris Pirillo. He’s fricking funny, but man, he shares a lot.  I see Scoble and Brogan periodically, but rarely.  Different friends, different content, Jason’s points are still relevant.

  • Some very good points! I think both are beneficial like you said. It will be interesting to see how far G+ goes and if it will stay afloat. Personally, I enjoy G+ better and love the layout and feel and some of the features, but facebook is familiar and already has all of my friends and connections. I will keep using both :D 

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  • It’s still FAR too early to make any assumptions or predictions. Facebook didn’t gain 700 million users overnight. At least 50% of the people I talk to (that aren’t already on Google+) don’t even know what it is.

    It will be a good 12 months before it gains any real traction.

    • Markjmayhew

      20 million people using Google+ by next week isn’t “real traction”?

      • Hey don’t get me wrong, I’m all for G+ taking off. In fact, I use Facebook and Google+ about 50/50 right now. I’m just waiting for more people to start using it. I was saying, it will take 12 months to get a more accurate picture of how things will go. 20 million people in a couple of weeks? Great. How fast will that slow down once the initial ‘new car smell’ has worn off?

  • Predictions & hypotheses are a HUGE part of the #SocialMedia environment. As @JasonFalls:twitter noted, it’s certainly not a zero-sum game. To me, there are still so many factors to be determined. Pardon the terminology, but we don’t all play in a bubble. Many factors influence our actions, opinions and preferences.At the end of the day, millions of people will interact on Facebook. And Quora. And NameSake. And Focus. And LinkedIn. And blogs. And Twitter. And Google+. And the many “yet to be unveiled or created” platforms in the social media sandbox. There are many eggs and many baskets; the difference is that preferences, associations, new innovations, mobile, gaming and countless others will impact which ones go where. But the baskets are sitting right next to one another, so people may hop back and forth.All of these social media sites have pros and cons, depending on what they offer users. It’s like a menu in a restaurant. You can choose to eat one thing or a bunch, but that can change each day … although many people stick to their “regulars” and bring friends, family, colleagues, etc. Don’t forget though — it’s always a good thing to try out the new establishments, as well as the older ones that might have updated their business.Cheers! See you somewhere out there …

  • Predictions & hypotheses are a HUGE part of the #SocialMedia environment. As @JasonFalls:twitter  noted, it’s certainly not a zero-sum game. To me, there are still so many factors to be determined. Pardon the terminology, but we don’t all play in a bubble. Many factors influence our actions, opinions and preferences.

    At the end of the day, millions of people will interact on Facebook. And Quora. And NameSake. And Focus. And LinkedIn. And blogs. And Twitter. And Google+. And the many “yet to be unveiled or created” platforms in the social media sandbox. There are many eggs and many baskets; the difference is that preferences, associations, new innovations, mobile, gaming and countless others will impact which ones go where. But the baskets are sitting right next to one another, so people may hop back and forth.

    All of these social media sites have pros and cons, depending on what they offer users. It’s like a menu in a restaurant. You can choose to eat one thing or a bunch, but that can change each day … although many people stick to their “regulars” and bring friends, family, colleagues, etc. Don’t forget though — it’s always a good thing to try out the new establishments, as well as the older ones that might have updated their business.

    Cheers! See you somewhere out there …

  • The irony of most of the comments on this article is that they are coming from that “tech/social/digital dorks” cabal of people you reference. Although, admittedly, I do fall into that category as well, I also fall into a more important category: Gen Y’ers that have been at the heart of the success of social sites. Without us, lets face it, social sites wouldn’t have existed in the first place, brands wouldn’t be online vying for out attention and our parents definitely wouldn’t know how to use the internet. 
    The fact is WE define whats cool and WE will be the ones that will determine the success of G+. And from my perspective, G+ plus WILL see an influx of “normal” people. In fact, almost every single person in my circles right now are my pre-med, engineering, etc. friends which are no where near being “tech/social/digital dorks.” As a member of the great Myspace migration, I can assure you that Facebook vs. Google+ will come to fruition. It is crucial for both sites right now to take their fate into their own hands and continue to adapt, innovate and better define their purposes. As far as Twitter is concerned, I think its safe for the next few months in which case I’m sure we will be debating Twitter’s viability against Sina Weibo and Sina Weibos viability against Google+.
    And how about that Tulalip “slip” from Micorsoft? Some big changes are on the way…

    • Hey, Michelle. Hate to burst your bubble, but you and the other Gen Y’ers won’t decide the fate of Google+. You’re fast on your way to being out-of-date. It’s the next generation that will decide, the teenagers and pre-teens of today. If they are as enthusiastic about it over the next few years as your generation was about Facebook, Google+ will thrive. Welcome to reality.

      It’s also worth noting that the most affluent social media users are the older ones, 45+. Brands are vying for their attention, too, because they have a lot more to spend then the just-out-of-college Gen Y’ers.

      • Despite the unnecessarily rude response, I would also like to burst your bubble: Gen Y extends into the 90s which includes teens. Myspace? I was about 15 when it became popular. Facebook? Remember how it started for college students only? It wasn’t until I was about 19 that it truly became mainstream. If late teens and early 20 somethings adopted it, so did pre-teens and young teens not the other way around. 

        But really, the fact is Google+ is out NOW when the younger Gen Y’ers are still king but we will definitely have to wait and see if the next generation is even interested. As far as the 45+ age range, just because they have more money to spend, doesn’t mean they have more disposable income which is why many brands want to appeal to the younger generation. And although there are more 45+ people on social sites (important to note they’re the fastest growing population in general) it is how a person/generation interacts with a site, their friends and brands that is most important. In my opinion, the only affluent baby boomer social media users are the “tech/social/digital dorks” which use social media for professional gains (oh, and maybe moms attempting to spy on their teens)… Unless we would like to include dating sites and Google+’s potential in that respect. 

        • Thanks for the comments, Michelle. I don’t think Neicole’s response was rude. In fact, I was a bit taken aback that you seem to think GenY is responsible for social, the success of social sites, etc. Honestly, no one demographic is responsible. Social media was a marketplace shift … not just something the kids did. The creators of most social networks are late Gen Xers, even. And the influencers that have propelled their use and spread? Older crowd as well. Not to take credit … Gen Y, Millenials, Boomers … they’ve all played important parts.

          The Cluetrain Manifesto … the first domino in what many consider to be what brought about social media’s ethos and direction … was written by four college professors, at least two of whom I’ve met and are old enough to be my dad.If you change the tone of your “We” to mean all of us … regardless of age … you’re spot-on. The public will determine the use and popularity. 

          • Thanks for taking the time to respond to this, Jason. Maybe I just misinterpreted her comments (“sorry to burst your bubble,” “welcome to reality”) as rude, but to be honest I am very tired of the older generation discrediting my generation. I believe I do have a perspective, and a good one in fact, that should really be considered in the digital realm. 

            The main point I was trying to get across (without trying to pinpoint anyone in particular- although Neicole obviously seemed to focus into that point) was that there are reasons that Facebook became such a popular site. And (although, as you pointed out was created by Gen X’ers) was really adopted by the now 20 somethings. As far as your reference to the creation of SM’s ethos and direction, yes I do believe that it really was created and adapted by older generations, but I also believe that it was for the purpose of connection to the younger generation. 

            What I was really trying to get across with my original post was that Google+ is in the process of appealing to the “normal” person. Of course it is very new, so there is sooo much to even speculate about its potential, but don’t count it out as a potential Facebook killer. I believe, at this point, it really depends on a social media sites ability to adapt and to create new experiences to thrive in an over saturated SM market. Yes, I will stand by the fact that Gen Y is the reason that social sites have become a part of every day life, but the fact is we really have no idea how this will play out. And, more importantly, I am very frustrated with the amount of blog posts that seem to believe they have the answer. (Perhaps we should really be asking the preteens, such as Neicole suggested). 

            All in all, I really do not believe today’s preteens (whatever “generation” we may be calling them) will embrace Google+ and I will stand by my belief that millennials are the main reason for online social adoption in the first place. Just like every other “bubble” that we have experienced, social media will hit its peek. I’m just hoping that my well being doesn’t depend on it when it happens. 

        • Gianluca Marcellino

          Interesting and valuable discussion about generations driving social networking. As a baby boomer who took months to accept his first LinkedIn invitation back in early 2004, I am acutely aware of what different generations can and will do in these situations.

          May I highlight two points on how I watch Gen Y evolving from the other side – hope you find them useful and look forward to your comments:
          1. “the younger Gen Y’ers” reminds me of when I was myself stretching my generation’s lower limit in a bid to roll in what was rather a following generation stepping in… sooner or later we all have to draw a line, if in smooth sand, and acknowledge there is a new, younger wave coming. Lucky ones get to see more than one.
          2. indeed some 45+ people have less disposable income than Gen Y’ers. In some cases, that is because we share such income with Gen Y’ers and their younger brothers and sisters. Who then happily dispose of it.

  • Tee Riddle

    I think people are forgetting one thing about Facebook – its largest growing demographic is 45+ year old women. 

    I agree that G+ has been taken by storm by techies, but your every day average Joe (or Josephine) is not jumping ship from Facebook like the gurus are predicting.

    1) These people love playing those dumb Facebook games and connecting with their grandkids and other relatives.

    2) They are not very tech savvy and will not be so inclined to learn a whole new system. They will have the sense of “I have to start all over somewhere else? But I have all my friends and family, pictures, and everything I’m comfortable with right here!”

    While Google+ will be a great tool for many brands and businesses it is/will not be the end all, be all.

    Facebook will still be an important tool.

    • Nearby me is a McDonald’s. In the mornings the bulk of their customers are retired folk living in local retirement communities. Many bring in laptops and do but one thing with them… interact on Facebook. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m very much in your camp Jason (slight digression, a colleague of mine mentioned you in very flattering terms yesterday).  G+ is interesting, but I’m not moving all my chips to the center of the table just yet.

    I will say this though – I’m starting to see how Google is creating a very compelling case for ownership of my online time. I could have Gmail, Google+, Google News, Google search, YouTube and Google docs as open tabs (from my Google Chrome browser) and that little red square in the top right corner on each tab keeps them connected, pinging me with alerts.  

    I don’t see anybody else who has that sort of breadth. 

    • Was your colleague drunk? Heh.

    • That’s definitely Google’s huge differentiator, Rick – the integration. There’s no other network (that I can see) that has all the options Google has under one roof. And that could be very key moving forward.

    • You make a good point, @rickliebling:disqus . And I think Google is making a strong play with + and it’s other search enhancements (e.g. +1’s) to show the value and how they can all work together, as  @dannybrown:disqus pointed out.

      But @JasonFalls:disqus is exactly right — it doesn’t have to be a “one or the other” situation and never will. People are way too invested in Facebook. The platform will have one billion people soon. Half of the U.S. population has an account. Facebook is not going anywhere, except up in users. We all have to much of our social lives invested in it to back off completely. 

  • Jason

    Hope you are enjoying your vacation! I was saying the same thing just yesterday that Google+ is a great place as it is all the social media/techie folks. I get to have them there and check on them when I like, I get to have my friends on FB and Twitter, well that is my “fix” each day just cuz I can. It is a circle on Google+ of all of “us” and all of us cannot buy from one another over and over. Building relationships is great, talking, sharing, is even better but what is best, truly best is customers. Are customers on Google+? Will the non social media/techie crew leave Facebook for a platform that to them is exactly like Facebook? I am not so sure that will happen unless of course FB exploded or went to a paid model.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts as the are similar to mine and I suddenly do not feel so alone. =-)

  • Jason, I usually agree with what you have to say, but I think you’re a little off on this one. As you know these sites are nothing more than tools. Yes, FB has a crapload of people on it, but we shouldn’t be focusing on that number. What are the people on FB actually doing? Are they interacting w/ Pages? I don’t think so. So what if a Page has 15K likes – what does that actually get you? From a marketing standpoint, it’s very hard to engage with people on FB, it doesn’t matter what the numbers are, because people are playing games, chatting with friends or posting something about themselves. Nobody gives a crap that you just launched a new widget, or you are having a special. 

    G+ allows you to create a different experience for the different people in your life. You can use the same account for biz, personal, and casual. As a tool goes, it kicks FB’s ass hands down.

    Everybody seems to always focus on the features- “well facebook has lists which is just like circles” – yeah, but nobody uses them, and that’s the point. You need to look at HOW people use the different networks, not just the numbers.I keep seeing that G+ is “Geekville” but really, I’m not seeing that (not saying it’s not so, just that I”M not seeing it). My circles are filled with my target audience (authors) who are as far from Geek as it gets, and I’ve got another 500 suggestions that are mostly authors and non-geeks that I have yet to add. There’s a lot of non-geeks there too.

    I think G+ is a FB Killer (I don’t use those terms, cause I do think that in most times there is room for both) but FB is difficult, intrusive and untrustworthy. Their new chat thing makes the site unusable for me, and I only go there to interact with a group I started there. You may not trust Google, but at least right now, they are very upfront about how things work, and how the stuff you post is seen and shared. 

    FB is like Ham, but G+ is like Bacon. 

    • I think it all depends on your goals. For brand marketing, FB definitely reaches hordes of consumers, while Google+, right now, primarily shares info amongst professionals. Until business profiles AND “fun tools” for the masses emerge, I don’t see Google+ treading on FB’s ability for businesses to engage customers. 

      • Absolutely. G+ may be the Twitter alternative that some businesses are looking for. It also might provide opportunities that Twitter doesn’t. Then again, I had a beer at lunch and some cider, so I might not be the best person to respond right now.

        • I really don’t see the correlation w/ Twitter – it’s a different animal. Yes there’s overlap, but I’m sure you’ve all seen or participated in #blogchat – that wouldn’t work on G+ or FB. You can also discover topics and things using hashtags that you can’t do on G+ or Facebook (although the sparks tool might do that, but that needs work). 

          • There are functionality differences, yes, but the ability to share content but do so directed at Circles of friends rather than anyone who happens to follow you and happens to also see your tweet at the moment you happen to tweet it … kicks Twitter’s ass. For marketing purposes, sharing content is the most potent brand use of Twitter. That was the point I was making. Sharing content on G+ is more compelling.

          • I agree Jason, it’s the circles features that makes G+ so powerful, but the power of Twitter is  it’s simplicity and versatility. I can use twitter to share something, have a chat with my network using a hashtag, or simply share something I found interesting.  I think G+ competes more w/ FB than Twitter. Everything I do on FB, I can do on G+, I can’t say that for Twitter. I still need Twitter for my chats.

      • How exactly are you reaching hordes of consumers? I’m not trying to be sarcastic, if you are truly getting an engaged audience, and you can generate business from that, that’s great – and I would love to know how you did it.

        I don’t see that happening en masse – even with big name brands like showtime. They get on average (my own unscientific measurements) around 1% engagement. Sure that equals thousands, but the thing is these people are already engaged, and would watch the shows anyway, so I’m not really clear what they are getting out of their fan page.

        I just don’t see the behavior on FB being around brands, I see it being towards their inner cliques. My daughter is on FB all of the time, she has probably liked thousands of pages, but she NEVER goes back to them. I’m the same way, and so are most people I talk to – they like it to get something, but never return. This is why I say likes are meaningless.

        • Phil, here is one example of how businesses can really leverage traffic from Facebook:

          http://www.facebook.com/squishabledotcom

          There are plenty others. While Squishable is not my client, I’ve worked with many others who inspire engagement. Many big brands use Facebook to really get the word out about new products, etc… it’s a great alternative (and sometimes replacement) for traditional advertising avenues (TV, radio, etc.). Just look at Dunkin’ Donuts.

          Granted, the more pages one likes the less chance of them seeing everything that would influence them, but plenty of users are selective with their likes and unlike pages that they find don’t really apply to their interest. 

          In fact, there are plenty of products I discovered ONLY by liking the company on Facebook. I’d otherwise never saw a single ad, heard a jingle, etc. Had it not been for FB sharing, some companies would have never gotten my business. 

          My point is, there are different avenues for businesses, and to pass up on the most popular platform is ridiculous. Also, keep in mind that 1% is better than .5%, and 1% of 100,000 FB fans and better than 3% of 20,000 Twitter followers.

          • I’m actually impressed by the level of engagement there, but I did notice one thing – it’s all WOM. I didn’t see 1 post on the wall from the company itself. It’s essentially being run by the fans (a good thing). That was my point, you need to get the WOM going – status updates don’t work. 

            In order for FB to work, you need to put A LOT OF EFFORT into it, and for most, that’s simply not possible.  This company was able to get people to rally around a product, but a) how long it that take and b) how much did that cost and c) is it really adding up? Is the time, effort and expense you put into driving traffic to Facebook worth it in the end? My point is this, marketing / accessing your audience on Facebook is hard. It’s a pain really, and FB owns all of what goes on there. I think it’s better to engage on Twitter, where it’s easy, and I can easily take them off Twitter where I can engage them further, on my terms, and where I can “own” them. My conversion rate on Twitter is way higher with less effort. I’m not happy w/ 1% from Facebook – I like the 80%+ I get on Twitter, mainily because I can engage on a personal level, which is a lot of what Twitter is about. 

            Just because FB has 750K users doesn’t make it the defacto place to be, in fact the odds are against you. I’ve go quite a few clients that have gotten better traction/response off a place called Wattpad than they ever did w/ with FB (and we’re talking minimal effort here). I typically have clients get sales (including pre-sales)from Twitter. They’re smaller, more focused, and more personal. 

            I appreciate your stance on FB, and I’m not trying to say you’re wrong and I’m right. I think we both are right. You seem to enjoy facebook and getting your clients success on it, where as I fall into the Brogan camp- never really liked it, used it because I had to. 

            I am of the opinion that niche sites, even with smaller numbers, work better (convert higher with lesser effort) – especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of time or money to invest into the strategy it takes to win on FB. 

          • Phil:

            Dunkin Donuts posts quite a bit… there are plenty of companies that start the conversation.

            My responses to some of your other comments:

            You: “In order for FB to work, you need to put A LOT OF EFFORT into it, and for most, that’s simply not possible.”

            Me: Well, sure you do. And that’s the same with all social campaigns, isn’t it? I hope you’re not implying that Google+ is going to cause instant hit status. 

            I don’t see how it’s not possible for any company to build a loyal fan base. Simply put, if you give people a reason to engage, they will more likely engage than not. Apple doesn’t have to start the conversations much either… but that’s not to say they haven’t put in the work to inspire their customers to talk about them.

            But, this is about Facebook, and, in my experience, the bulk of companies with little engagement aren’t doing much to engage. It starts with being transparent. There are plenty of companies who opt to just ignore all the “bad” responses to their “good” news. And that actually hurts them.

            You: “This company was able to get people to rally around a product, but a) how long it that take and b) how much did that cost and c) is it really adding up? Is the time, effort and expense you put into driving traffic to Facebook worth it in the end?”

            Me: With Squishable, it’s a very niche market and a “viral” product line, so it was much easier for them to get people talking. That’s not to say other companies can’t do the same. It’s all about approach, transparency and “listening” to what people want.

            You: “My point is this, marketing / accessing your audience on Facebook is hard.”

            Me: It’s not as hard if you start in the right place. The key is to target customers outside of FB and invite them in, then give them reasons to share. This method tends to result in the highest level of engagement. 

            You: “I think it’s better to engage on Twitter, where it’s easy, and I can easily take them off Twitter where I can engage them further, on my terms, and where I can “own” them.”

            Me: But, who are you trying to engage? I agree, even my engagement ratios are better on Twitter, and that’s because Twitter attracts a different type of clientele. But go look at the follower/conversion ratio of most any big company on Twitter vs Facebook. Point being, you have to address the masses where they reside.

            You: “My conversion rate on Twitter is way higher with less effort. I’m not happy w/ 1% from Facebook – I like the 80%+ I get on Twitter, mainily because I can engage on a personal level, which is a lot of what Twitter is about. “Me: For professional services, Twitter does tend to provide better results. Why? Because chances are your followers are also business oriented. For selling coffee, though, Dunkin’ gets more feedback on their new products on FB than Twitter. Plus, on FB they can host different contests “all in one place.”

            –cont—

          • “Me: Well, sure you do. And that’s the same with all social campaigns, isn’t it? I hope you’re not implying that Google+ is going to cause instant hit status. ”

            Some places take more effort than others, but that’s where I think the niche-ness comes in. If people are actually there to do “x” then they’ll be more responsive to you, therefore you dont “need to give them a reason to engage”, they are already there. 

            No I don’t think G+ will give instant stardom – it’s not much different than FB, but what I do think, as I stated in my original comment, is that I can share something with Family that my biz contacts don’t see, and vice versa. I can communicate as a person, not as a company, which I think is more valuable. G+ gives me more control in how I create the experience. That’s difficult if not impossible to do on FB. I’ll have to see how google implements biz profiles, but if they do it anything like FB, I’ll probably skip it. So far, Google does it better, but, yes it’s still effort, but somehow it’s different (relaxed maybe?).My audience is actually authors, who don’t think of themselves as a business (one of my challenges). Those same people are also on Facebook, where I engage with them in a group I created. 

            I think you’re second part is where our opinions differ. I don’t think broad strokes is effective. I think it’s important to take the time before you start your efforts and find out where your audience is, how they use that particular site, and engage with them they way they want. Broad works for Pepsi, but not smaller brands. Time is too valuable not to be focused on making sure you are reaching your audience. 

            Also don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you don’t have to put effort in, quite the contrary. I’m saying that the effort you do put in should result in the highest ROI possible, which goes to my previous thought on broad strokes.  I put a crap load of effort into what I do – both for myself and for my clients.  If I can put a tweet out/tweet to a stranger on something on twitter, which gets a conversation going which lets me take it to my website or amazon where I might get a book sale out of it, why would I go thru the much larger effort in putting a welcome tab together for my FB page, along with finding my audience on FB- then trying to find ways to engage with them (i.e. prove to them I’m worthy of their time) hoping they’ll notice me, and maybe throw a few bucks my way? The effort FB requires isn’t worth it for me, or my clients. I can put that same amount of effort on a different site (like GoodReads) and have better results (because it’s targeted). It’s like settling for a hamburger when you want a steak. 

            At any rate, it was really great talking (debating) with you on this. That’s one thing I love about marketing and social media is that there is more than one approach to something and it’s great to hear other’s takes on things.  

          • Glad the two of you had such a great back-and-forth. For my part, sorry I wasn’t more attentive. I spent Friday driving 12 hours home from vacation.

            My only real push back, Phil, is that G+ is not yet really open for brand business. Those that are setting up profiles as companies will soon be told to switch (most likely) to whatever Google sets up as a Facebook Page counter. So we don’t know if A) The G+ experience for brand pages will be as invigorating as we think it is for us people. We also don’t know if B) People will interact or engage with brands on G+ any more or less than they do on Facebook. 

            I say we wait and compare apples to apples. Fair?

          • Jason, I’d disagree with you on that one – it is. I’ve been conducting business on G+ since I got in, it’s under MY name rather than a business name/profile which I think has a lot of, excuse the pun, pluses. 

            The way G+ is set up right now it gives brands a chance to market to people as people, not logos. I’d argue you go to [insert your favorite place here] mostly because of the people. I think business profiles will actually hurt the G+ experience. They’ll do it because there’s money in it, but the beauty is that I don’t have to follow them and keep my experience what it is now. 

            I’m a bit confused when everybody talks about “engagement” and “conversations” but yet we’re so eager to do that thru a logo/business profile rather than an actual human – it’s not really logical. 

          • –cont–

            You: “Just because FB has 750K users doesn’t make it the defacto place to be, in fact the odds are against you.”Me: There is no single place when it comes to finding and engaging customers. Companies should be putting energy into the broadest number of people possible. Thus, Twitter AND Facebook AND other markets. For home-styles, I work with clients on Kaboodle. But you’d never find me trying to sell my own services there.You: “You seem to enjoy facebook and getting your clients success on it, where as I fall into the Brogan camp- never really liked it, used it because I had to. “Me: It’s not an issue of me preferring FB or even “liking” it. It’s about doing what’s best for each and every type of business. I work in ecommerce, so many of my clients need to brand their store and spotlight products. For them, the feedback on FB is better than that on Twitter because the bulk of their “non-tech merchandise” customers aren’t even on Twitter. It also serves them better as customers are reminded of the FB page – say, in an emailing – and they go to the Wall and see the company engagement then join the conversation. Being able to see easily others who are talking is a benefit, opposed to Twitter where they’d have to use a search tool and lots of scrolling to piece together a conversation.You: “I am of the opinion that niche sites, even with smaller numbers, work better (convert higher with lesser effort) – especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of time or money to invest into the strategy it takes to win on FB.”

            Me: But, if you already have the customer base, FB doesn’t have to take a lot of effort. It all starts at home, Phil. If you’re not investing the time and money in your own site/store, then how can you expect to be able to use social for peanuts and get a high ROI? 

            Very few of my clients even advertise on FB. They “invite” their customers into a place where they can share across the platform. The majority of them do little more initial work daily than post a question, product or survey. They do spend time responding to requests – but that’s actually quicker than handling them via direct email or mail forms. The users do the rest of the work.

            The key is to build the base and let your customers do most of the work for you. 

            And, Chris Brogan may disagree with me on the FB factor, but I doubt he’d dispute my last comment. After all, it’s his loyal readers sharing that bring him more loyal readers.

  • “People’s time spent online is not a zero-sum game.” But there are limits, and users can become fatigued with what can feel like a barrage of choices. 

  • Spot on. I’m actually tired of all the “Facebook killer” talks. Simply put, we don’t need another Facebook. 

  • If Google+ created the Circles for me based on what they already know from other people’s profiles or our gmail conversations (Location, Workplace, existing Fb or Tw friend/follow) I’d be all in. 

    Perhaps tipping their hand into how much they really know or deduce about all of us is too alarming to reveal for now. 

  • Great, great summation Jason.

    I agree that G+ seems to be more akin to Twitter than Facebook. That said, I also agree with Miriam in that right now the UI isn’t that great for real-time streaming. I’m pretty confident that will change though. Columns, maybe?

    All said, I think the three of these can co-exist. Facebook is not dead. Twitter won’t die. And G+ is not going the way of Buzz/Wave.

  • Google+ serves specific needs that Facebook and Twitter don’t meet. Privacy, organization and idea-sharing are likely the most significant ones. I am not sure how Google is going to work with brands, but I can’t think of anything remotely close to a “fan” page that G+ could possibly have. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed, and I hope my stream isn’t suddenly inundated with game requests/group requests/Chris Angel jag-off contests. I

  • Thanks Jason, for saying what I’ve been thinking for about a week now. Can’t we all give Google+ more than a couple of weeks (and maybe an update or 3) before we start talking about how it’s going to revolutionize the online world as we know it? I think we’re all just a little too quick to proclaim the next shiny toy as bigger, better, stronger, faster without giving it a true trial run yet.

  • Another brilliant analysis, Jason.  It’s funny but I was thinking the same thing almost word for word this week, especially about Twitter.  I like Google Plus, but it is a long, long way from offering the Facebook Experience in terms of audience, interesting feeds, etc.  And frankly, they are a day late and a dollar short into the market.  Facebook enjoys a commanding lead, and it won’t take a whole lot for them to imitate Google Plus’ best features, and steal the thunder back.  I think there’s some very interesting SEO implications to using Google Plus, which is a real advantage.  But I think it’s an “also and” kind of service rather than an “instead of” service right now.  Eagerly awaiting the Business page functions.  What in the hell were they smokin that they thought they could wait a few months to introduce those?  Typical large company thinking…

  • Adventure Girl

    Brilliant commentary Jason… all the while on vacation! I agree with your points above, and one addition- I’m hearing feedback from early adopters that it’s convoluted and confusing. So, if you have tech savvy early adopters saying this, I wonder what the public who need more simple traits to social platforms will say?

    So is this just another Orkut, Buzz and or Wave?

    Time will tell…

    • Fair. My first reaction was that linear thinkers will HATE G+. It makes you see one person as members of multiple groups for contact (circles). I can have you in my “following” “friends” “hotties” “Cali” and “Blog Contacts” circles. But I’m a linear thinker. Organizing you into all those, then being able to discern what content is shared with which groups … aneurism waiting to happen. 

      I think it’ll be a Mac-PC thing. Some will dig G+ … others will dig Facebook … others Twitter, etc. The one kicker though? If G+ activity visibly affects Google’s search results? Advantage Plus.

  • Mary Klaebel

    I am still on Facebook and Twitter. G+ is awesome, but I’m not a single platform person. I like different flavors. Why do people feel they have to be exclusively on one or another?

    I can enjoy all of the ones I like just fine. 

  • Your post helped to crystalize my thoughts. I think Google+ is cool and I”ll spend time there. But I’m not moving. I’m not giving up Facebook. I won’t give up Twitter either. I love the energy and movement of Twitter.
    I think so many people who practice in the social media space want to be the one to make the grand declaration, “This is good! I see fit for my minions to be here.” And the minions come.
    I follow “the names” on Google+ because they have the time and energy and mandate to try all this stuff out. I still have to service clients and can’t play like they (and you) can.
    I will say your post struck me as a little angry. (Chris Angel masturbating?) But I’m sure it can get frustrating to see all these bold and baseless proclamations. I’ve been feeling frustrated by them as well.
    Thanks for the perspective. It’s why I read you. Get back to your vacation.

    • Dadar

      Not only angry, but very unprofessional, too. (The “M” word and “shitless.”) You’ve got good content, Jason, keep your writing professional!!

      • My writing hasn’t changed. I interject humor and abruptness often. Sometimes
        it works, other times it doesn’t. But I can assure you both there was no
        anger here. It was written with a little snarky fun. Sorry you didn’t
        interpret it that way.

  • Right now the hype reminds me of Quora. All the social media heavyweight types get on and it becomes a mutual admiration society. So far I’m liking it, and I think it’s going to be a great platform. I just wish people would stop thinking of it as a Twitter/Facebook killer. It isn’t, it’s Google+, and we’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out!

    • Good observation. From an ego standpoint, though, Quora was different. It is all about “look how smart I am.” G+ is more of a “here’s good content” or general discussion. Much less ego-driven, in my opinion.

  • I agree with most of what you say here, Jason…However, I don’t see Google+ replacing Twitter. Maybe I’m too big of a fan of Twitter and Tweetdeck, but I find Google+ to be clunky, hard to scroll through and difficult to digest. (It takes too long to find the information I enjoy.) It would need a total redesign to suit my social media “consuming” needs. I’m not sure how intuitive it is for the “masses,” either. And, while I think having circles is a good idea, I have always advised, “If you need to worry about who sees what online, don’t post it.” It’s only a matter of time before people get caught posting something to the wrong circle and wind up getting fired as a result of some inappropriate comment.

    I’m enjoying some of the conversations on G+ — it is nice to be able to ask a question and collect some answers/have a “conversation,” but there are already lots of other sites offering that service.

    It would be great if G+ could be a network free of the, “Had a great
    day, now it’s time for bed” posts, but I’ve even seen those pop up in my
    circles of people accustomed to using social media the same way
    everywhere they hang their SM hats.

    As you note, many have written about the positive applications, but only time will tell how things shake out.

  • I had actually already quit Facebook by the time I joined Google+. Not because Google+ was “better” per say, but because I just found Facebook was driving me crazy. Everytime I hear my friend say “I’m so sick of hearing about [FAD]” I know I’ve made the right choice. Will Google+ be polluted to the same level? Yes. But it hasn’t happened yet. And the few posts I’ve seen I can easily choose to ignore by moving between circles or just blocking that person. I like that Google+ isn’t forcing content down my throat to the point I have to complain to the person next to me about it.

    I think you make a valid point. The people on G+ now aren’t my friends and family. These people are techies. And for techies, it’s great. Only time will tell to see what the non tech-savvy populous makes of it.