I love Google. I have loved it since I read the Google Story years back. What I loved about the business model at that point of time was the lack of advertising and marketing employed. They adopted the product concept – just develop and build a bloody good product which will solve a problem and people will come to it themselves. Google didn’t start out with the intention of becoming a part of everyone’s lives like it has now, it just simply wanted to perform good search.
Since Google+ launched a little under a month back, I have been trying to convince anyone and everyone who’s listening to make the transition from Facebook. I have been reading a lot of blogs and articles about how Google+ is IT. Most of the clippings I find on Google+ itself. However, I am getting just a little bored on that platform now.
There are a few fundamental flaws with of G+ which it should have addressed yesterday.
Lack of people. Everyone knows the success story of Gmail. It was invite only – word of mouth publicity – because it wasn’t easy to get in, people wanted it even more. And well, Google now clearly believes it was a strategy good enough to be employed again & again. What the missing link here is that Gmail was a good product. Compared to mail clients at the time, it was clean, had more storage and what Google was known for best (search) was incorporated clearly in Gmail. So if someone did not know anything about Gmail was only told about how good the search in it is, they would know what to expect. Not quite what’s happening with Google+. There is nothing ‘fundamentally Google’ which is drawing people to it.
Google+ is a great platform, circles, hangout, it’s all very fancy and nice. More importantly, it addresses the gap in social media, which is sharing the right information with the right people. But then I sit back and think, if I want to find the most relevant articles about the US debt crisis, I’d go on Twitter and find the information I need. I could even go to Google.com but Google+ gives me nothing. What is the point of someone posting an article on their G+ account (a public post) but no one being able to find it. The search bar on G+ only searches for names and the information in their “About” section. No good. One would have thought that after Google pulled the plug on Realtime search (which was a great source of information), in no time would they reactivate the service for Google+ posts. But alas.
If I want to communicate with a friend on Facebook, I can either write on their wall or tag them to a post on my wall. For a more private message, well, I send them a message! The latter has been been taken care of on Google+ with the “Send Email” option. For the former however, G+ has incorporated a skewed mix of Facebook and Twitter. I can only post on my ‘wall equivalent’ of G+ and tag that one person to it. However, there is absolutely no place where someone can see all the posts they have been specifically tagged in. Something that Twitter does beautifully with “mentions” and *surprise surprise* the search on it is brilliant too.
If someone has specifically shared a post with individual people (not circles) there should be a way for the receipents to view them all in one place. G+ is doing great things with circles, but defying the whole purpose of a social media platform by hindering natural conversations. SMS, Email, LinkedIn, Twitter – in all these platforms I can see the messages that have specifically been shared with me in one place. It’s infuriating to think Google+ didn’t think of something so simple. I believe this is also a good reason why people aren’t making the shift. I remember my first few days on Facebook years back. I had 3 friends on my first day and continuous wall posts about taking my “wall virginity” or how lonely Facebook was atleast made me stay on the platform and have conversations.
4. Product First, Demand Later
Imagine a new reastraunt where it’s horribly difficult to get a reservation. You can only get in via a recommendation. After a lot of effort, you do get in and realise that the restraunt looks great, has some great dishes, but the Chef hasn’t quite got many of the basic dishes you expect. They are more than happy with you giving them a better recipe though. Doubt if everyone will go back to that restaurant very soon.
A “Send Feedback” option on G+ is all very nice, but then don’t open the platform to the masses at all. Keep it to a developer preview like Apple does – most recently with OS Lion. Don’t let people who expect a finished product come in, only to write it off and not only never come back themselves, but bad mouth it to many more who are not interested in sending feedback. Bring it up to a standard where millions of people can simply sign in and enjoy a good product.
I started with saying I love Google. I still do. I hope they succeed with G+ because it does have the potential to be the first choice for many because of its intergration with the rest of the Google products. But I feel if they don’t address the issues above, G+ will join the ranks of Buzz and Wave.