Google’s new slogan is “the web is what you make of it,” and I couldn’t agree more. However, if you read publications like TechCrunch, Google’s attempt at a social network has been an unmitigated failure. Sure, the platform just closed in on 400 million users but for the people who won’t or haven’t given it a chance numbers like those hardly matter. However, reports of Google+’s premature demise aren’t just limited to the annals of TechCrunch. A lot of people haven’t realized that Google+ has already won. Have you?
Google+ has more users than Facebook. “What’s that,” you say, with a hint of condemnation. “Google+ has more traffic than Facebook? No way, Jose.” Technically, you’re right. Most reports have G+ closing in on 500 million registered users by the end of 2012, certainly much less than Facebook’s reported 900 million users. However, if you dig a little deeper you’ll see that Google+ really isn’t just limited to that weird plus dot URL you never use.
You see, Google’s social network was never intended to be just a social network. The goal, is to make it a kind of social layer that permeates all of your activities on the web. So when I make a bold claim like Google+ has more web traffic than Facebook, I’m not just counting the raw numbers of G+ users (or just the active ones for that matter.) Nor should I. Google is a very large company, so to cherry pick statistics based on user numbers is shortsighted.
I don’t want to claim nepotism here, but who wouldn’t want a parent like Google? If Google+ were an independent company not attached to a massive tech and media conglomerate there might be a case that the platform could be in trouble. However, Google’s running the show here and you can expect a lot of effort and resources to go into supporting Google+. For those that remember Google Wave, this isn’t that. Google Wave was an excellent idea that was a little before it’s time and didn’t tap into the exploding social media market when it launched. Google+ is going to be bolstered by other Google products like YouTube, Drive, Gmail, Gchat and about a billion other services. With siblings like those it’s easy to see why despite the reports of its’ early demise, Google+ isn’t going anywhere.
Imagine if twenty years ago you were able to create your own television station and broadcast it to the world. From a marketing perspective there would have been unprecedented value if that were a reality. From a user or content creator standpoint you would have an opportunity to engage with people you might never have even met o come across. With Google Hangouts, that’s not just a pipe dream anymore, but a reality. Hangouts will undoubtably revolutionize the way people interact and engage with each other online. The beauty of Hangouts is we’re just scratching the surface of the technology and the potentially massive implications it will have on our lives. Creating your own branded channel that relies on the strength of your content and execution could expose all of us to a new generation of tech-savvy internet stars. What’s that you say? Skype already exists and there are plenty of other video services out there? You’re right, but none of those seamlessly allow you to record multiple member group chat directly to YouTube. As mentioned before, Google owns a lot, and the integrations that are sure to follow will slowly lift the veil off of the non-believers eyes.
If I had to pick one thing that gives me confidence in Google+ it’s the sheer quality of the people using the service already. The early adopters of G+ are some of the smartest, most creative and just generally awesome people you will ever come across on the web. I could spend hours highlighting how incredible the interactions are on G+ but you really have to see it to believe it. Whether you’re into science, tech news, sports, photography, spirituality it doesn’t matter. There are people on the platform who not only love what you love, but love to talk and share too. No 140 character limits here, no being stuck to the same social group, just free unadulterated engagement. Of all the things Google+ does well, attracting the right audience is the best perhaps what the company is best at.
I could write at length about many of the other positive and game-changing features Google+ has (shared circles, branded channels, etc…) but the fact is no amount of writing or puff-pieces will convince anyone. My only advice to you as a user of the web is to check it out for yourself. Experience is one of the best teachers and this is one experience that can change the way you use the web.