Oh, Google+. What are we going to do with you? You’re the awkward late party crasher who’s trying to horn in on the conversations and make everyone do things they really don’t want to do. Things were going so well–we’d reached equilibrium with the social media Big 3 (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn), and then you came along and had to reinvent the wheel.
As humans, we only have so much to say. The status quo social networks seemed to cover all the bases: Facebook for friends, family and informal interactions, LinkedIn for all things professional and Twitter for everything in between. What room does that leave for Google+? What were people dying to express but couldn’t with the tools in their arsenal? Judging by the mix of posts I’ve seen since Google+ launched, nothing. It’s being used as a Facebook/Tumblr hybrid, but why? It serves no larger purpose for the user. Because the system was of such little utility, I’ve been able to safely ignore Google+ since its launch in July.
Google+ has rolled out its long promised, much delayed brand pages. And they’re sorely lacking. The page itself is almost indistinguishable from personal profiles, allows little room for customization save for a photo strip, doesn’t allow multiple administrators, has no analytics, forbids contests and is clunky and unintuitive to use.
But none of that matters. I immediately created a page for Roundpeg, and will for all of my clients in due course. Because Google holds all the cards and will ultimately get its way.
Google doesn’t care about creating a great social media platform. All that Google cares about is getting more data to run its search monster. And why pay Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn for access to all that sweet, sweet user data when it can simply create its own network where people will flock because of the ostensible search benefits. And there almost certainly will be search benefits to using Google+, antitrust lawsuits be damned.
Unfortunately, this is another case of sacrificing the authentic and real for the sake of a cold, emotionless algorithm. I’m not advising people to use Google+ because that’s where I think their customer is, or I think they can genuinely create great conversation and brand identity there. I’m advising them to use it because Google+ is where Google is, and you can’t ignore Google.
So go ahead. Give Roundpeg a +1, and help us feed the Google search monster.