Google+. Where do I even start with this shit? I mean, beyond the thorough bashing of it I delivered, and in turn, also delivered to social media marketer Chris Brogan for his ill-timed and poorly conceived Google+ seminar, in Social Media Is Bullshit?
Ok. How about I start with this: Every Google employee I know hates Google+. Every single one of them! In fact, if you were to get into a private conversation with a Google employee right now, I bet they’ll tell you they hate Google+ too. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Pick up the phone. Just dial someone randomly, and if you get a Google employee, ask ‘em if they hate Google+. And if you don’t get a Google employee on the phone? Tell that person to go f%^k themselves. … Because you gotta keep life interesting.
Don’t feel bad for the Google employees, though. Everyone hates Google+. Unless, of course, you’re a social media marketer and you just so happen to have a book you’re selling on how awesome it is. (See again: Brogan, Chris.) Then you don’t hate Google+. But don’t worry, social media marketers don’t matter. You remember that scene in “House of Cards” when Kevin Spacey talks to the crazy person and says that nothing the crazy person says or does matters? The social media marketers are the crazy person, and I know for a fact that at least seven thousand of you agree with me on that.
So why all the hate for Google+? There’s no purpose for it to exist. There isn’t. You know what Google+ is known for? Not being Facebook. That’s it! That’s the entire reason for its creation and continued operation. “What’s Google+?” “It’s not Facebook.” That’s it!
Google wanted to create a competitor to Facebook. That’s understandable and admirable, but there’s no need for it. Facebook is an empire in decline. Advertising agencies know it (just wait until those contracts with the non-disclosure agreements expire soon), network scientists know it (only 7% of word-of-mouth marketing occurs online), and even people in countries who have had Facebook for a long time now are leaving in droves.
Facebook doesn’t need a competitor, the platform is its own worst enemy. And that’s through no fault of its own. Like many social networks before it, Facebook had its boom period, and now it’ll gradually decline until it winds up like Friendster and MySpace. Why do you think Facebook is desperately trying to push into new markets and become the operating system for your phone? Or why do you think Sheryl Sandberg has a book coming out now? She’s looking for her exit! They made their money. They know the boom period is over, and now they’re just steering the ship long enough until they can formulate an exit strategy … or an entirely new business model.
So, all that considered, Google+ is then a pointless clone of a competitor’s failing product, propped up by the unlimited resources of a large company and it’s inability to be coherent on anything. (One other thing about Google employees: They’re all awesome people, but they’ll be the first to tell you the company has grown so large now that no division really knows what the other is doing or who even works there.) Google+’s team may have a plan, but the rest of the Google teams don’t know what that is, which is kind of a problem when Google+ is (or at least was) being positioned as the heart of the company’s overall strategy.
The hate for the pointless Google+ has been so universal that Google has resorted to misleading people about the growth and popularity of the service. Google+ didn’t even earn a mention in the early 2013 earnings call.
But here’s the thing … We don’t have to like Google+ because Google has a monopoly on search, and most of the Web’s traffic passes through that monopoly. And like with anything having to do with the Internet these days, what we like simply doesn’t matter. The Internet, our access to it, and the commercial Web are completely controlled by large corporations like Time Warner, Amazon (do you have any idea how many sites are hosted by Amazon these days?), and Google. They’re no different than standard oil was many years ago.
(And yes, that’s an apt comparison. Facebook has a bunch of former FTC commissioners on their legal team. Is it any wonder why they continue to escape any real FTC action beyond superficial slaps on the wrist?)
So, although we all hate Google+, we’re also all stuck with Google+ for as long as Google wants to prop it up.
And not only are we stuck with it, because of Google’s monopoly on search, you’re forced to use Google+ because data from the SEO people indicates that people conducting searches are more likely to click through on a link if they see the author’s photo next to it. And how do you get your photo next to your link on Google? Yup. Google+. You fill out a form to join the Authorship program. You add a link to Google+ on your website (you can see mine here), and then you add “By: Brandon Mendelson” or whatever your name is in each of your posts. See? You don’t have a choice. Because although social media is BS, SEO isn’t. And when it comes to SEO, everything Google does with search matters.
Did you know if you incorporate Facebook comments into your blog, it sends a stronger signal to Facebook’s algorithm (EdgeRank) than if someone “likes” something? Google does. That’s the whole trick to getting stuff to do well on Facebook. Post pictures with your status updates, incorporate Facebook comments into your blog, and make sure people click the share button and not the like button. And since Google knows this, they’re now rolling out Google+ Comments for your blog to act as a replacement for Facebook’s commenting system. And you better believe there’s going to be some good SEO juice given to blogs using Google+ comments because they want people to use Google+, and so far the only thing that’s been successful in getting people to use Google+? Yup, forcing them to use the platform for the SEO benefits.