I’ve tried to like Google+, I really have. Problem is, Google makes it so hard to like. Plus, the word “like” sounds almost pejorative. (Get it? “Plus” and “like”? Ok, sorry.)
I have used Google+ off and on since its inception. I railed against Facebook, even, and using Google+ was a sort of nose-thumbing exercise. Now, I am back to heavily using Facebook and barely using Google+. Why?
First of all, Google has made Google+ hostile to sharing from the get go. Only recently, within the past month or so, has Google made available API access to allow third party tools to integrate with it. If I can’t readily post things to Google+ from any apps and/or sites of my choosing, then it will always remain a backwater. Recently I have tried to be consistent about posting to the big three social media places: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Guess which one is the most difficult, and involves the most labor? Google+. I can post to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously if I choose (and often, I do), but can I add in Google+ without some weird hack? No way. I welcomed the recent news about third party access but feel like it’s almost too little, too late. It’ll take quite a while for others to adopt it and build it into their platforms. With the recent plug pulling announced for Google Reader, I can well imagine many people thinking twice now about doing this.
Secondly, Google+ has done a crappy job of building mobile apps. Or I should be less critical, perhaps, and say they’ve done a mediocre job at best. I use iOS devices and have the Google+ app on my iPhone 5 as well as my third generation iPad. But in spite of some nice features such as clearer (and larger) fonts, photo presentation, etc., I am frustrated that basic things continue to not work consistently. The biggest example of this is the Google+ app’s frustrating tendency to not update itself smoothly (by this I mean, refresh content), and especially its weird tendency toward sporadic alerting of any comments or replies. Mind you, comments or replies or +1s are very few and far between, but even when I do get them, I cannot rely on the dumb app to tell me consistently. This is really bad and it’s a basic problem. You can have all the pretty bells and whistles but if foundational stuff doesn’t work properly, forget about user engagement.
Third, the fact is that overall user population in Google+ is a mere fraction of what’s in Facebook. I surrendered the cause several months ago and went crawling back to Facebook mainly for this reason alone. The people with whom I want to connect, and about whom I wish to be kept informed, are almost entirely on Facebook. It’s the content, stupid. If people aren’t on Google+ then it isn’t an attractive destination for me.
It’s doubtful that Google+, in spite of its promise, will ever be anything but a niche site for me. It’s sad, but true.