Google Plus – The ugly duckling of social media?

the ugly duckling photo

Facebook is the social media living room, LinkedIn the social media workplace, Twitter the social media pub and Google Plus the social media… ugly duckling?

Three years in, Google Plus have over 300 million active users and more than 540 million using Google Plus credentials for various services. This makes Google Plus one of the biggest sites in social media. Still, people often seem dubious about Google Plus. It seems they don’t really “get it”.

We are told that Google Plus is a Social Layer rather than a social network. What’s the significance of that? Do we even care what Google calls it, as long as it serves a purpose? For all its brilliance Google Plus is something of a conundrum to many, and that just might be the its biggest flaw.

Google has described Google+ as a “social layer” that enhances many of its online properties, and that it is not simply a social networking website, but also an authorship tool that associates web-content directly with its owner/author.
Wikipedia about Google Plus

The heavyweight challenge?

Facebook rose to dominate, and more or less defined, social networks. All the other big ones–like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, Snapchat–have developed in the shadow of the giant and gained popularity by offering something Facebook doesn’t (or at least didn’t at that time), or being something Facebook isn’t.

Google Plus comes from the other internet giant, and has been seen as something that doesn’t aim to grow in the shadow of Facebook, but to challenge it (whether that’s really the case or not).

Features and functionality

There are many features on Google Plus that are hailed to be way better than the Facebook counterpart. Circles vs Friend lists, communities vs groups, handling privacy on your posts. There are unique features such as Authorship, hangouts and hangouts on air. And it’s Google, the company whose name became a verb “to search on the internet”.

But for all its brilliance, the basic functionality serves roughly the same purpose as Facebook, or at least people seem to think it does. And people already have their friends on Facebook, so why starting to use–or migrate to–Google Plus?

Would we miss Google Plus?

To be honest, out of the social networks (or layers, or whatever) I use, Google Plus would be the one causing me the least trouble if it was shut down. There are very few people I only interact with through Google Plus alone. Maybe that’s because I still have to take the leap of faith and really commit. I really like Google Plus but I’m also still trying to make sense of it.

Maybe Google Plus is the ugly duckling of social media and it seems it remains to be seen if this three year old duckling will mature to a swan or not.

How about you, what do you make of Google Plus? How do you use it? How do you define it? What purpose does it serve in your overall social media strategy?

Photo by JD Hancock