When Google+ debuted, it was heralded as a “Facebook-killer.” Since June 2011, it’s been anything but that. In fact, it’s been seen as more of a social networking wasteland. A network populated by technology geeks and news organization, and little else. But I truly believe that with a few additions, Google+ could be the king of the hill. Its interface is already fantastic, but a good user interface can only get you so far in social networking (just ask Path). If Google+ is really going to be the “Facebook-killer” it was originally stated to be, it should think about the following things:
An active user base
Google claims there are currently 100 million users on Google+. That’s about one-eighth of what Facebook has, and considering that Google+ hasn’t even reached its first birthday, it’s very impressive. What Google isn’t overtly stating, however, is that whenever someone signs up for a Gmail account (or other Google service), they are automatically signed up for Google+. And that doesn’t guarantee firstname.lastname@example.org is going to be active on the network. In fact, because of auto-enrollment, I’m willing to bet that users will be less inclined to use the social network. Google not only needs to attract more active users, but more everyday users, too.
If you’re looking for a social network dominated by technology nerds and SEO fanatics, Google+ is where you want to be. And it’s one of the reasons I love it. I love that I can go to one place and get most of the information and news I’m looking for. But it’s lacking everyday content, and that stems from the lack of everyday users. Most people don’t care about the latest Google Panda update or that Facebook might be developing a search engine. They want “status updates.” And you know who does those well? Facebook.
Third-party app integration
This is what’s killing Google+ for me. Right now I could pick up my phone, read an article in Pulse and share it to both my Twitter and Facebook accounts with just a few clicks. I can’t do that with Google+. I’d have to copy and paste the article’s URL and then open the Google+ app and copy it into the post. Not only is it too much work, but the link won’t animate below the post correctly. The only way to share on Google+ is with Google+, which is a fundamental problem with the network. If I could seamlessly share content I view in apps to Google+, it would be my primary social network. I wouldn’t necessarily drop Facebook altogether, but I can guarantee that my posts would be less frequent.
Google is too concerned with integrating its social platform with search instead of creating the best possible social network. Search, Plus Your World is an interesting feature, but it does nothing to draw me into Google+. Sure, it’s cool that I can sync all my photos into a private album for Google to keep safe, but you’re going to have to do more than that to keep me. Let me post from Instapaper, Pulse, News.me and the like, then we’ll talk.