Many blogs and news sites have discussed the subject of Google+ and its growth, and most appear to conclude that the day it will subdue Facebook is pretty far off.
So, what are people generally thinking about the Internet giant’s biggest attempt at challenging Facebook?
If you consider the majority of Google+ users, a quick look at Mark Zuckerberg’s profile will give you an indication of their usage patterns.
Mark Zuckerberg's Google+ profile: He's posted absolutely nothing publicly, and has more than 600,000 followers.
"I make things," is how he introduces himself.
The Facebook founder wants to set an example for the user base, and it looks like most have followed it.
Points Scored By Google+ Over Facebook
Around the time of the launch of Google+, I wrote a few articles with reasons explaining why this new innovation, in some ways, is a few steps ahead of the reigning social networking giant.
One of the key reasons was the fact that the ‘Hangouts’ feature had no equivalent in Facebook, and still doesn’t have one.
Interestingly, just a few weeks ago, I found a prominent blogger inviting members of a popular Facebook group to a Google+ hangout to interact with each other! This surely must be a norm by now. Anyone in favor of a symbiotic relationship between Google+ and Facebook? Well, there have been predictions about this, and so far they haven't turned out to be untrue.
Another feature I personally liked is the ability to edit comments and posts once you’ve submitted them. You might want to look back and make changes to what you’ve said.
The Google+ Users and their Preferences
We’ve had analysts heaping Google+ with praise, as being the “fastest growing social network, with 10 million sign ups in the first three weeks,” on track to catch up with Facebook and its 800 million odd users.
But few have talked about how many are actually active there. In my own stream, the most lively posts come from Googlers like Vic Gundotra and Matt Cutts, and other technically inclined members I follow – particularly those that love operating systems, software and Google+ itself. The non-tech crowd has only signed up, and mostly forgotten about it.
Many of the articles on TechNonStop are Linux related. I consider myself lucky that an avid Google+ user, who’s also a Linux enthusiast, put up constructive criticism about one of the articles in his stream, helping me learn and make amends to my writing. It helped that I was able to easily track who’d shared my article. I find this a bit less likely to happen in my Facebook network, but of course, experiences will vary depending on the subject being dealt with.
The Social Media and Search Connection
Google primarily being a search engine company, is also looking for means to use data from links that are +1’ed and shared on their networking site to decide ranking. The personalization and socialization of search has evoked mixed reactions. Their latest experiment in attracting users to Google+ is the "Search Plus Your World" feature.
If I’m looking for a plumber in my hometown, I surely wouldn’t prefer results related to plumbers in cities 8000 miles away. It would be great to find someone right here, and even better if he’s recommended by someone in my social network. However, if I’m looking for expert engineering advice, I might prefer greater diversity – perhaps someone who isn’t near my town or isn’t part of my social circles may have deeper expertise that I may miss out as a result of this social and search mix.
The Conclusion for now
The bottom line is that Google+ does have active users, the trend being that they’re the technology crowd. However, moves to push users into adopting its active use haven't been very successful.
Will the current users prompt similar minded people to try out social networking? Will they inspire Facebookers to consider migrating, or perhaps even better, encourage a symbiosis?
Are you a Google+ user? Have you experienced a change in the way you network with friends?