Individual connection to others in your world

February 24, 2012 by

My friend Irene recently asked me “Calvin, why aren’t you on Facebook”? I replied “I’m not, but I am on Google+”. Irene looked at me quizzically and asked “What’s Google+?” Therein lies one half of the problem for Google. It’s an awareness issue.

I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook. As a matter of fact, if you’re looking for me you’re probably wasting your time because you’ll never find me. Don’t consider this a challenge. I’m just telling you, very directly, not to waste your time. But if you have Google+ and you want to reach out to me, please find me and send me a request.

Perhaps it seems counterintuitive to seek invitations from one social media site while completely shunning the most utilized social media site on the planet (over a 800 million served). Perhaps…

My challenge with Facebook is this – while I’m a gregarious person, I’m somewhat private. Everyone doesn’t need to know everything going on in my life at a given moment. So, tacking up my information so everyone on planet earth can see it is unsettling to me. Sure, I could set up privacy settings. But, I shouldn't have to. The online experience should more closely parallel the offline experience.

I like the concept of Circles that Google+ offers. It mimics my life…probably yours as well. Different friends can be in different circles within my world. Business colleagues are different from friends. Close friends are different from family. Close family is different from extended family. What should I do with people who are “sort of” friends but not truly in my circle of friends? Create an “acquaintance” circle. Put them there.

Going back to the question Irene raised – she raises a valid issue. If I have to repeatedly explain what Google+ is and how it works, there’s an awareness problem. Potential customers simply don’t see the value. Last week, I saw a Google + commercial for the first time. This is a good start toward creating awareness for the masses. In some quarters, there’s already awareness.

The reported “43 million users” is a sizable number considering the product has only been available to the masses for about 6 months. The real question is not about numbers of users. Instead, the question centers on the number of repeat users – people like me who have a preference for the product and actively utilize it. How many Google+ users would be defined as ‘active’?

I’ll be interested to see if users migrate from Facebook to Google+. The challenge for most people will be changing platforms. Facebook users are already connected to their friends and family. Recreating a network of lifelong friends becomes a tough sell. Plus, a user has to get all connections to come over to the new platform in order for the network to be of value. What we’re really talking about is an individual’s connection to others in their world.

Can Google+ compete with Facebook?

I think Google can…eventually. If Google has the patience to stick with it, Google+ can be highly successful. It won’t happen overnight because of the aforementioned individual connections. I see no reason for a person to be active and maintain both a Google+ and Facebook account. Users will ultimately have to choose. The value proposition must be extremely compelling for a person to switch.

For me, it was. Conceptually, it makes sense. It mimics my life. And, did I mention that I’m a private person?