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MarketWave Match-Up: Is Google+ Dead?

September 6, 2012

Everyone loves a healthy debate. At least, that’s what the minds behind MarketWave’s blog decided when we crafted this new, fun (and possibly dangerous) idea: the MarketWave Match-Up.

For each Match-Up, the writer gets to challenge one of their MarketWave colleagues to a friendly duel about a topic specific to our craft, from marketing and PR to social media. Then, we’ll poll our readers and name a winner.

So for our MarketWave Match-Up debut, I’ve challenged my office neighbor Whitney Starling to debate with me on this question:

Is Google+ Dead?

WHITNEY: No! In its first year, G+ has grown to 250 million users, 150 million of which are active, monthly users. It’s not Facebook and this kind of comparison is not relevant.

Facebook thrives on people who personally know each other. G+ is creating the opposite – a niche community building relationships based on shared interests. Shared ideas are the connection – not necessarily established relationships. It’s passion vs. people, quality vs. quantity – and G+ is fully aware that passionate users are more important than numbers.

Thanks to Circles – the social version of target marketing – users don’t have to sort through hundreds of “friends” to find interesting content. Similarly, they can easily control the information they share with targeted groups.

Google is the King of Search and G+ is the glue that binds all of Google’s heavily-used platforms together. Think: Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa, Google Reader and YouTube, to name a few.

The truly innovative and best part of G+ is Hangouts – a video chat feature that President Obama has already adopted – providing virtual meetings, video conference and live broadcast opportunities. If that’s not enough, Guy Kawasaki says the site has quality conversations and in his book “What the Plus!” says the site is “as special as Macintosh.”

BANA: Yes! G+ is a ghost town for both consumers and brands. And millions of accounts aren’t impressive if active numbers dwindle, like CEO Larry Page’s dormant page. And if G+ didn’t mirror its interface after Facebook, I wouldn’t compare the two. Sure, the one upside to G+ is its intersection of social with search. But does that sustain it as a living social network?

No way. Social networks mean more than social searches. For most of us, our social lives were born on Facebook. We’ve chronicled relationships, jobs, statuses and photos. And Timeline pieces it together. Really, Facebook holds every fiber of our social story. Why would we cut it for G+?

We won’t.

But that’s not the only reason I’ve left the ‘Plus Bus’. Social networks owe success to the niche: their one exceptional benefit. For Twitter, it’s microblogging. For Instagram: photos. Pinterest: crafty aspirations. And back in the day, Facebook made its claim to fame by connecting friends in a virtual world. In that regard, it beat the Plus to the punch by about eight years.

So let’s call it what it is and what it’s not, ladies and gents. As a data-backed, social-supported search behemoth, Google is alive and well. As a social network rivaling Facebook? G+ is dead.

As we prepped for this debate, we asked our Facebook fans to sound off. Here’s what they said:

What do you think? Alive or dead? After you vote above, share your comments below.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Bana Varnon permalink
    September 14, 2012 11:31 am

    …and if Facebook takes hold of search, I’d say that’s all she wrote, folks:

    • Whitney permalink
      September 14, 2012 1:47 pm

      And there you have it, we found something to agree on! If Facebook dominated search the way Google does, then R.I.P. G+.

  2. Whitney Starling permalink
    September 10, 2012 3:50 pm

    I realize that I have lost the argument, however, I saw this wonderful Guy Kawasaki interview on Fast Company, and had to share:

    Question: So what’s the plot that’s going to be revealed that shows Google+ prevailing?

    Answer: Essentially, its product superiority will come out. Or not that it will come out–it’s already there and people will realize it. But also, Google+ is more and more integrated into Google’s search.

    Right now people are judging it against Facebook because there’s a billion people on Facebook, all my friends and family and my high school classmates are there. But once you look past that, you say “wow, there’s a lot of impact”; if I’m active on Google+ it helps me on search, it helps my business. So it’s not about finding out that your ex-girlfriend from high school is now pregnant, it’s more about going forward with your passions and your interests and your business. I think it will just catch on.

    • Bana Varnon permalink
      September 12, 2012 5:29 pm

      I agree that it does a stellar job of what it was partly designed to do: enable social search. But I do still struggle with the idea that it ‘will just catch on.’ I’m still not sure people will migrate over to the site just by nature of its Google product backing. But if (or when) they do, it will be massive for both consumers and brands (and yes, alive and kicking).

  3. Valerie Hanneken permalink
    September 6, 2012 6:15 pm

    I have to say, Whit, that I have not really thought Google+ was going to stick around for a long time. However, I do know that a lot of companies use it for SEO purposes, and that is pretty beneficial. Also, Google+ can be a wonderful internal social media platform for large companies. It is a way to push out articles, engage with different departments and provide content for other partner pages. If they can maybe change directions a little, I think they could stick around.

    • Whitney Starling permalink
      September 7, 2012 10:49 am

      Thanks for your input, Val! You know me – eternal optimist and I have to root for good ol’ G+!

  4. Whitney Starling permalink
    September 6, 2012 2:50 pm

    Thanks Melissa! I’ve been using Circles to help solidify the topics I’m interested in: sports, marketing, social media, news, etc. It’s nice to click one button to make a specific grouping of information available.

  5. Bana Varnon permalink
    September 6, 2012 1:50 pm

    Thanks for the com[pli]ment, Melissa! Can’t wait to see more MarketWave Match-Ups in the future!

  6. September 6, 2012 1:24 pm

    Great points, ladies! Whitney inspired me to find my “niche” and begin using G+ in a different way than I’d originally planned. Bana made solid points about the lack of engagement on pages – especially Google’s own CEO (FOR SHAME). Wonderful post.

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