Google+, You Suck

Google+, you are really starting to piss me off.

Yes, you’re “gaining momentum.” You’ve got “90 million members.” But there’s one problem. You’re “a sham.”

If I end up becoming active on Google+, it will only be because I am forced to go there. And I will be forced to go there only if you make it impossible for me not to, by hijacking all the other services I actually choose to come to you for, and by essentially strongarming me and another billion people into a service we didn’t ask for. It will be because you have skewed my search results and rerouted my Gmail account and messed with my YouTube algorithm. It will be because you have infected me with a disease and then sold me the antidote.

Facebook is most definitely not perfect, but it’s not broken. I’ve got four words for you, Google: 850. Million. Active. Users. I’ll tell you what 850 million active users mean: they mean that you are not solving a problem for your customers with Google+. You are solving a problem for your investors.

The reason you got a billion search users in the first place is because you’re really really good at what you do best, and the reason you’re failing so badly at social is because it’s so obviously not what you do best. Circles? Really? Doesn’t it occur to you that if that one issue were such a massive deal-breaker, Facebook wouldn’t have 850 million active users?

Eight months into Google+’s existence (honestly, even the punctuation makes me rage), and I have yet to encounter a situation in which I feel like I’m missing out by not being there. Seriously, Google+, why are you here?

This is how Facebook puts it in its S1: “Certain competitors, including Google, could use strong or dominant positions in one or more markets to gain competitive advantage against us in areas where we operate including: by integrating competing social networking platforms or features into products they control such as search engines, web browsers, or mobile device operating systems; by making acquisitions; or by making access to Facebook more difficult." They’ve summed it up, Google+. You won’t win because you’re better, or because you’re providing a service that is more necessary, or because you’ve considered the true motivations and desires of the user base that has trusted you with our searches, dreams and desires for so long. You’ll win because we’re sheep and you’re sheepdogs, because you’re corralling us into a pen that suits your needs more than it suits ours.

Google, remember how you became so awesome. It was by focusing on the user: by having a deep insight into the needs of people searching the Web and an empathetic understanding of the indicators of quality content online. Yes, you were at a special time in history, and, no, it’s not easy keeping up with the eternally and relentlessly changing landscape of the Internet. But that is what you need to stay ahead of your rivals: that insight, that empathy. That is how you will continue to retain not only our usage but also our loyalty.

But just remember that you don’t own us. You’re better off coming to that realization on your own than taking us for granted -- and finding out the hard way.

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10 comments about "Google+, You Suck".
  1. Jesus Grana from Independent , February 3, 2012 at 11:21 a.m.
    My sentiments exactly - Kudos to you for seeing through the Hype - check out my Google prediction http://jrgrana.com/blog/2011/12/26/2012-predictions-or-my-personal-wish-list-you-pick-part-one/
  2. Colleen Wright from Search Engine Academy Northwest , February 3, 2012 at 11:33 a.m.
    I couldn't have said it any better! After reading your post, I could feel the tension come out of my body. Google is becoming what Microsoft was in the 90's - a bully.
  3. Thom Kennon from Brabble , February 3, 2012 at 11:42 a.m.
    Hey Kaila, not sure you're using the same Google+ as I am, but mine is rich with interesting people, content and new connections --- unlike anything I've ever experienced on Facebook. Maybe you should take a coupla really big deep breaths and give it another try? Speaking as a marketer, I think it will offer us something we've never had before --- a truly 'new media' based targeting, distribution and engagement platform for brands. I am pumped about the promise, both as a user and a post digital adman.
  4. Gwyneth Llewelyn from Beta Technologies , February 3, 2012 at 12:16 p.m.
    I totally agree with you about Google, but I'm biased: since I still am unsure about the current status of artistic pseudonyms under Google+/Google Profiles (it seems you have to prove that you're "famous", and if a Google employee reviewing your status doesn't agree with your "claims to fame", then Google can cancel your account — all of them. Period. And they're not liable for any loss of business that happens to me, nor are they going to give me access to the vast array of data they hold on my behalf and/or money earned from their services). So I had to give up my Google+ account, hoping that it would die a quick death like Buzz (or Lively, or even the moribund Orkut), and I'd be able to use the rest of all Google services in peace. While I used it, I was impressed during the early beta testing: it looked to be "as good" as Facebook, but still at a very early stage — namely, the same stage at which Diaspora (which Google shamelessly copied) was. So I hoped to see some improvements to improve Google+ at the level of "at least" Facebook, which didn't happen: Google seems to want to leave Google+ very "bare bones", only doing the essential things, and just pushing people to use it more and more to justify its growth. 90 million users, you say? Well, I've heard claims of "400 million users" elsewhere — which clearly is just saying that there are 400 million potential Gmail users which might, at some point, register for a Google Profile (it's getting harder to avoid it!) and thus become a member of Google+ as well. From other accounts I've used, Google+ seems to be pretty empty. In fact, for a while, I've even seen that as an advantage: a nice, cozy, peaceful spot, away from the confusion and the mess that is Facebook. I'm no Facebook fan, either — I was kicked out of Facebook last year because they didn't recognise my "claims to fame and glory" either, and I didn't even receive an email from them, my account was simply suspended without notice. They're even worse than Google in that regard, but at least they seem to be able to adjust very quickly to changing conditions. Shortly after Google+ launched, Facebook added the Timeline and a new look, as well as a "clone" of Circles which is somehow even simpler to use. Then Google+ launched Hangouts and Facebook came up with Skype integration. For each Google+ innovation, Facebook seems to come up with two new things (some might not be "good" at all, like Timeline, but at least it shows they're not sleeping on their laurels). So, I don't know. Like many, I was hoping to get Google+ as a serious, real competitor to Facebook, away from the morbid megalomania of Zuckerberg (the guy simply scares me). But Larry Page, strangely enough, seems to be worse. Then again, Google is just good at selling ads. Why should we expect them to have learned a new trick? Not even Microsoft managed to "get" social environments (nor even Apple!), so why should Google be good at it?
  5. Mike Ventura from Ventura & Co. , February 3, 2012 at 3:25 p.m.
    Quoted and credited you on my blog post http://www.ventura-company.com/2012/02/googles-schizophrenia-search-or-social/
  6. Mike Ventura from Ventura & Co. , February 3, 2012 at 3:26 p.m.
    Quoted and credited you on my blog: http://www.ventura-company.com/2012/02/googles-schizophrenia-search-or-social/
  7. Steve Kavetsky from AgooBiz, Inc. , February 5, 2012 at 2 p.m.
    WE agree that new inventions/creations are supposed to solve a problem. What's the point of re-inventing the wheel or the mouse-trap if the current one is doing just fine? Google+ was released with no definitive purpose [with the exception of providing consumers & businesses a competing social media]. As long as Google+ doesn't use bully tactics [like Microsoft did in the 90's] to gain membership and sales, Google+ should be allowed to compete in our free market. That being said, there WAS a real need [for many yrs] by small to mid-sized businesses to have a social commerce network. A platform where companies can connect using today's social media tools AND transact their business [BtoB and BtoC], w/o all the unnecessary "noise" of FB. Google+ still doesn't cut it for business [i.e. it's got the "Social" but not the "Commerce"]. Yes, you can use Google+ for marketing, and making new connections, but you can't sell your products & services in a SEAMLESS environment. FB developed F-Commerce & business pages to solve the problems of its social platform not being usable by the business world. With all their efforts, companies still can't EASILY sell on FB, unless they have a developer on-staff or they sit & sift through the infinite number of shopping apps that were created by third parties for FB and then they sit there for a while to set them up & get them working properly. If you DO get the app working, you still have to deal with all the unnecessary "noise" on FB. If you're a small business, do you really have the time or the resources to do this effectively? The connectivity that businesses & professionals get from LinkedIn is priceless to millions. However, like the other Social Medias, LinkedIn falls short of providing the "Commerce" capabilities. So when Google+ was released, we had a glimmer of hope and we thought that a large multimillion dollar team of experts evaluated the social networks that are currently on the market and truly developed a superior solution to all the problems. It appears that there will always be a rift between the Google+ users and the FB users much like NYC has the Mets fans and the Yankees fans or the Giants and the Jets or the PC users vs the Apple users - time will tell. In the meantime, WE created "AgooBiz.com // The Social Commerce Network" for businesses to socialize [w/o all the "noise"], make business alliances, learn from each other, & TRANSACT THEIR BUSINESS in one clean, social, easy-to-use, no-developers-necessary, community. This is what the American Dream has always been about: if you come up with a better product than the leading juggernaut, you don't need all the billions of dollars. People WILL start using your product on their own because it solves a real problem and simply WORKS BETTER. Google+ should pay attention. Steve Kavetsky Co-Founder AgooBiz.com // The Social Commerce Network "WE work greater than me"
  8. Adam Hartung from spark partners , February 6, 2012 at 2:27 p.m.
    Great column. New products that are wildly successful are somehow better than the originator - or a whole lot cheaper. Since Facebook is free for users, and price competitive for advertisers, Google + offers no price advantage. So what makes anyone think Google + will catch Facebook? Or even reach profitable viability? Back in Sept. Forbes mag said Google + was a big minus for investors http://bit.ly/nR6bVb
  9. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , February 6, 2012 at 8:06 p.m.
    I get it, but you overstate the activity angle. Not all 850 million FB users are "active" -- maybe they actively joined, but not all are active users.
  10. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , February 7, 2012 at 1:24 p.m.
    So the reported number of active FB users is inflated after all! http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/those-millions-on-facebook-some-may-not-actually-visit/