Last month I deleted my Google+ profile. Then a few weeks ago, when I started blogging regularly again, I decided to re-open it, just because I figured it couldn’t hurt to have one more place online to post links to my blogs, in addition to my Facebook and Twitter pages. So that’s all that I’m currently using it for, otherwise, I’m not active on it. But that might change at some point in the future, if the site becomes more useful.
I was an on G+ for over a year, I’d gotten an invite early on, since the second week after it launched, when it was still in beta-mode and it was invitation-only. So I think I’ve given it plenty of time to see if it becomes useful. I remember all the excitement surrounding the site when it launched. It was all over the news, certainly on all the various tech websites, and it was being dubbed the Facebook-killer. I remember thinking that if anyone could replace Facebook by that point, it would be Google, just because of their being so ubiquitous online.
I mean, Google has reached the type of brand-recognition that Kleenex, Scotch tape, and Xerox has, where folks would automatically talk about “googling” something when they needed to look something up online. Now, it’s true, Google hadn’t had any luck with their first attempt at creating a social network, Orkut, but it seemed like they had learned from its mistakes, and was doing it right this time. The invitation-only aspect was their first success, as it created such a buzz of exclusivity surrounding the site, like a nightclub holding people back with a velvet rope, that just made people more anxious to get on it. I used to get tons of requests for invites to it, in those early weeks, when G+ was only allowing members to send a certain number of invites, and only for a few hours, each day.
For me, personally, I just liked being in on the ground floor of the site, but it wasn’t like I wanted to be on it because I had any sort of dissatisfaction with Facebook. FB works fine for me. And the main feature that seemed to appeal the most to the early G+ users wasn’t a big deal for me, either. I’m talking about CIRCLES.
The idea is that you could put all of your friends into different groups, and then decide which posts are shared with which groups. So you can have a circle for “Relatives”, and “Coworkers”, “Real Life Friends”, “Online Friends”, etc. So if you want to post a list of your Top Ten Favorite Porn Stars, but don’t want your grandmother or your boss to see it, you can just make sure she’s not in that circle that you share it with. I understand the concept behind it, and why some folks think that’s useful, but it’s not necessary for me. I’m a relatively open book online. I mean, sure, I do keep some personal details private, for fear of potential stalkers/identity thieves, but as far as things like my opinions, I don’t worry about whose reading them. If there’s anything that I don’t want some people, even if it’s just one person, to know, then I just don’t post it online. Simple as that. So when I got on G+, I just added everyone to the same Circle, and all of my posts were “public” anyway, so even that didn’t matter.
Anyway, over the next month or so, several of my FB friends asked for invites, which I sent them when I could, and then G+ opened to the public and a few more folks signed up, but no one used it regularly. Most everyone stuck with FB. I wasn’t sure if that would change. I have no personal loyalties to any site, I just go where the people are. I used to be a hardcore Myspace addict, spending hours a day on that, and then I signed up to FB when it first opened to the general public, but I was still mostly on Myspace because that’s where all my friends were on. It was about 2 years before I finally switched mostly to FB because it took that long for the majority of my Myspace friends to sign up to FB. But folks just didn’t seem to be that interested in G+. Out of my 600+ FB friends, maybe 20 signed up, but then most never use it. I managed to get another almost 600 folks added on G+, but the interaction just wasn’t there.
I tested it out a few times, where I would post the same status on G+ and FB at the same time, and see what would happen. Once I asked if any men had any experience using a straight razor to shave since I was considering getting one. I quickly got a bunch of comments on FB, but none on G+. Another time I asked if anyone could recommend a good photoshop software program, and got several recommendations on FB, but none on G+, and I know I’ve got several professional photographers in my Circle on G+. So after over a year and a half, G+ just wasn’t giving me much action.
Now, one thing I have noticed is that those who do actively use G+ really like it. And they will come out stridently to defend it. Whenever I see an article online questioning the effectiveness of G+, the hardcore users show up to rabidly defend it. So it’s clearly working for them, and that’s great. But I often see its defenders saying things like “You have to learn how to use G+ effectively, by making sure you’re following the right people, so your stream is useful.” And “I like G+ because people discuss important issues, and aren’t just spamming the walls with posts about things like what they ate for breakfast, like they do on FB” But that all sounds like they’re taking this more seriously than I do. I actually use social networks for making friends.
I know, it’s a radical concept. But that’s what I do, and I like getting to know new people, and reading about what’s going on their lives, a lot of which isn’t serious stuff. Or it’s redundant stuff (I can’t wait until this election is over so everyone will stop posting about it all day long every day). But that’s how regular people are. So maybe I don’t want to spend all day reading a bunch of professional tech people discussing software.
But, again, it’s still the almighty Google, so who knows? By this time next year, I could be off FB altogether and spending all my time on G+. I guess we’ll see…