So right, it’s been a year or so and I have a few quick thoughts about Google+. In that year I’ve loved and hated this product. I care about this product because the Google+ experience is nigh unavoidable and many of their other products (GMail, Drive, Calendar) range from good to great. Google helps me organize much of my personal and professional life.
And while oft criticized I would’t call Google+ a complete failure. I get Google+ as an integrated Google Experience. The Google structured data platform adds information via +1 buttons (and other slices of ‘structured’ code embedded on sites everywhere) to Google’s own ‘open social graph’. When this data is linked to ‘real’ identities (your profile and +1s) this can be both useful and creepy.
But the Google+ user experience, for the most part, is fairly marginal and reeks of bureaucracy.
Google+ makes sense as a place to connect ‘real’ (spam aside) identity to ‘real’ interests at vast scale. And to maybe post something and comment on something. Maybe. The Google+ social network (the plus.google.com site and news feed – the thing you share things to) feels cold, calculated, and poorly-executed.
Google+ plays host to a lot of spam, nearly-spam, and bakn. According to Google my ‘real’ profile has well over a million followers. This is laughable. Scroll through this list and discover that most of these profiles have little to no activity. I have little-to-no ability to vet the veracity of these ‘followers.’ If these followers are not spam, they’re reasonably useless as they rarely interaction and Google+ does not converts (send out a ton of attainable traffic) audience poorly. Open comments could help, but sadly public comments reinforce the ‘spam’ conclusion and rarely yield more than spam. I have my Circles set to ‘friends of friends’ (or whatever Google calls it). This should be my most engaged group of friends, family, and colleagues. Yet the engagement is nil. I get random +1s on content but that helps me not at all.
The follower spam on my public profile became such a problem that I decided to create a new primary private profile. Here I do see a smaller and more relevant flow of auto-posts from ‘news’ accounts. This is mildly interesting. Sometimes a real human comments. There is a loyal and dedicated Google+ community and I’m generally fond of these people. But this is a very limited, a-herm, circle of friends and acquaintances.
(Interstitial Rant: WTF is up with the newly-redesigned justified-left content stream? This makes utterly no sense and severely hampers my ability to comfortably consume content on Google+.)
Google+ as an integrated data-centered experience makes sense. Google doesn’t (and never had to) ‘beat’ Facebook at social, they simply had to be in to social. They’re figuring it out and I’m glad that the product continues to evolve.
I recently spoke with Loren Feldman on a KoPoint Creators podcast about Google+, a year later. Our conclusion that Google+ is simply Google. Google+ is a company-wide integrated data-and-identity product and the expression of the product (the sites you go to and click stuff and search for stuff) can iterate and change with the times.
Yes, Google+ sucks when compared (justly nor not) to Facebook and Twitter. And I’m glad it sucks. A competent Google+ social platform tied to the already-competent data platform is as terrifying proposition. It is my hope that the larger conversation remains on the ramifications and potential blowback of structured data tied to identity and privacy (and lack-thereof).
Anyway, we’ll see where this goes. Just my #twocents.