25 Oct 2011
Google + for AdWords a Bust?
Google took a new and interesting approach by releasing the “Google +” system to staggered audiences. They avoided making it immediately available to everyone on the Google Network, which helped generate interest about the new features that were being released exclusively to select people who were picked by Google. The users who didn’t get an invite from during that first round were dying to get an in from a friend.
I know that “Google +” generated some buzz in my own personal social circles. I remember sitting at a Fourth of July Party while one of my friends and improv comedy colleagues swapped stories about how excited they were when they were invited by Google to try out the new platform. I expressed that I was not one of the lucky few who got to sneak preview the product. “Don’t worry! I’ll add you,” one of them told me.
Sure enough, when I got home from the barbeque that night I had a Google + invite sitting in my Gmail inbox. I eagerly clicked the accept button. Over the next several days I had several invitations to join my friend’s circles. It definitely seemed like Google was going to become the rising competitor that Facebook has been waiting for.
And then the invites started to dwindle. The majority of my connections on Google+ were acquired within the first two weeks of the launch. I started to think that maybe Google+ just didn’t have the chops to take on the social networking masters.
It’s not a new story. Remember Friendster and MySpace? Unfortunately not every social networking site can make it in this world. Without the essential masses of people needed to keep the interest up, sites eventually die down.
Very few sites, Twitter being one of them, have been able to create synergy across the online universe. The creators at Twitter were smart enough to integrate their product and make it accessible across a multitude of online platforms. You can sync your Twitter updates to also appear as your Facebook status update. Twitter also acquired “Four Square” several months ago, giving people the opportunity to not only say what they are doing, but also show where they are with a social networking system that allows people to notify their friends of where they are by “Checking-In” at thousands of locations across the country.
Despite the promising take off of Google +, users can’t deny that momentum has slowed down. It would seem that most of the people using Google + are Google employees in pursuit of the bonuses they were promised if enough new users were recruited by the holidays. Unfortunately, Google employees won’t be enough to keep the product alive; Google + needs a much more diverse and connected fan base to survive.
That being said, I think Google+ may have a chance to make a rebound. The “circles” system is very clever, giving Gmail users the opportunity to streamline emails and invites to people who are specific to certain groups. The creators at Google are smart enough to find ways to integrate their system onto other social networks, but they are going to need to regenerate interest before steps can be made. I will be curious to see the end fate of Google +. For now, I'm not very concerned with its benefit in AdWords.