Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Google+, Party of No One?

Google opened up registration for it's Google+ social network to everyone today. That might be the catalyst that it needs to drive usage and propel Hangouts, and it might not. There is no doubt that the Google name propelled Google+ to near cult status at launch. Social media types bragged about invites and being a first adopter. Volumes were written nearly overnight explaining how this was a game changer. Google+ was the future. Facebook was going the way of Myspace. Twitter was dead... Most entertaining was that the death tomes were written and spread on the very networks that were supposedly dying. 

This Hangout is Awesome!
But a funny thing happened on the way to world domination. It appears that for all the members signing up, few are actually hanging out in the Hangouts. As reported by Dan Reimold for MediaShift, Google+ "is worse than a ghost town." While actual details on traffic and usage are hard to come by, more anecdotal evidence is suggesting that the assumptions of lack of volume is in fact the case. So what does this mean for the ever fracturing social media world?

First, it proves that the raucous social media landscape is the Wild West. While some continue to focus on niche applications, LinkedIn for example, others continue to drop into the general consumer arena. Over the next few years many corporate obituaries will be written, but the winners will be very strong players with some incredible applications. Buckle up, it is going to be a fun ride.    
It also reaffirms that Google is not King Midas. Like every other business, they will need to work hard to build relevance and be very strategic about it. If Google+ was actually a VC funded start-up void of the Google connection, I believe that it would have worked much harder to create category buzz. It would have launched a branding campaign and reinforced the natural occurring brand advocacy. In short, a boot strapped start-up would have fought and engaged earlier. They would have nurtured actively some initial category users. 

The next few weeks will be a litmus test for the social network. Will the opening of Google+ to the 'general public' spur it past the "must engage daily" tipping point? Just as important is the announcement of the new API Hangout. Allowing third-party application development could certainly kick the place into high gear. new features are being launched as well that hold a great deal of potential.  

Without a doubt, there are some exciting things occurring on Google+. It has some exciting features and is being adopted in very exciting ways by journalists the world over. The journalism potential is huge, and very exciting as we look at media convergence. 

The University of Missouri School of Journalism has taken the lead in the Google+ newsy world. KOMU TV, the school-owned NBC affiliate has embraced it 100%. They recently launched a 4p.m. hour-long web newscast. The U_News@4 anchored by Sarah Hill uses Google+ as a core component of the news. This application holds the potential to truly transform local television. While Google+ is a core component of this news program, it remains to be seen if it will become the vehicle or if another outlet will co-op the segment as more news outlets follow Mizzou's lead. I will write more about this specific item soon. TV NewsCheck has done a nice job covering it's launch thus far. 
Worth it in spite of our terrible graphics package

I look forward to following, engaging and seeing where this all goes. Based on what we have seem thus far, Google+ will have a future, but it may be far different than the Facebook killer it was purported to be. 

Until then. Get to Google+, grab a Hangout and see if it is indeed a party of one. 



No comments:

Post a Comment