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Jun 07

Google+ Hits It Stride

Still ignoring Google+? It’s time for another look. Google+’s features and user experience have always been great. lately what’s really driving my interest is…well it’s better than the alternatives – the Twitter and Facebook social experience continues to degrade.

Source: XKCD

Twitter

What’s wrong with Twitter? It’s gotten junky. It used to be my favorite social network, but my feelings are starting to change. Let’s review the factors that are negatively impacting Twitter’s user experience:

  1. Fake accounts: The number of fake/spam bots on Twitter has grown to an embarrassing level. According to a recent Forbes report, 42% of all accounts are fake, 30% are inactive, leaving only 27% as real people. The level of spam has reached epidemic levels and it greatly devalues the network.
  2. Automation: The ability to automate posting, following increases the amount of noise. Auto direct messages are obviously the worst but in general, so much of the traffic in my feed smells of robots.
  3. Cross posting: On the plus side, most everyone cross-posts to Twitter so it serves as a one-stop-shopping site for what people are sharing. The downside of all this cross posting is Twitter serves as a dumping ground. You’ve likely already seen the content on other sites like Instagram or Facebook.
  4. Brands have taken over: There was a time where people ruled Twitter. Over the past few years, brands have woken up to the opportunities that social media provides. What results is more promotional tweets that, for the most part, make Twitter less social.

Twitter still serves as a great place to get breaking news, but it’s just not as “social” as it used to be.

Facebook

Facebook has had it’s ups and down. Their move to drive revenue has resulted in changes that negatively affect the user experience.  That includes tons of ads and a mobile app that is barely functional.  Nonetheless, I’ve had some of the best internet exchanges on Facebook, so it’s hard to be too down on the service. I even like the chat heads.

Google_másGoogle+

So, finally on to Google+.  As mentioned, Google+ has great features. Examples include:

  1. The website design is well thought out and attractive
  2. The mobile experience is outstanding
  3. Video hangouts
  4. Drag and drop sharing controls (called Circles)
  5. Interest based communities

The features are great but what’s really compelling is it doesn’t have the problems of Facebook and Twitter.

Why Google+ is “more social” than Twitter and Facebook:

  1. No Ads (or better said, no Ads yet)
  2. No fake accounts
  3. Brand messaging does not dominate the platform
  4. Non-writeable API, let’s talk about that more…

Non-writeable API

Sounds super-techie, but what means is you can’t post to Google+ from other applications, if you want to post in Google+ you need to use one of the Google provided interfaces.  The decision to have a non-writeable API has been greatly derided by almost everybody. I was in the audience at SxSWi 2012 when Google’s Vic Gundotra was razzed by the crowd for not opening up Google+’s API.  However, ultimately this decision may be Google+’s saving grace – it’s what keeping the junk off of their social network. As a result the network is clean, usable, valuable and social.

If you use Google+, what you’ll find is quality social interactions. I find the experience much more inline with the orignal ideals of social media – that people can come together to affect positive global change.  In using Google+ you are reminded how “junky” Facebook and Twitter look in comparison.

Google+’s real problem is there are not enough people are there, but there are indications that may be changing.

Important!

Circle me at http://gplus.to/iamreff

Honorable Mentions

Since I’m ranting about social networking platforms, I’ll quickly mention a few others.

Path

The best social networking app <period> If Facebook didn’t exist, this is where you’d be.

Happier

Share your happy thoughts. Uses a simple, yet delightful user interface.

  • Susan Weiner, CFA

    I still like Twitter best. Much of the time G+ seems like a desert.

  • http://about.me/johnrefford John Refford

    Mmmmm…dessert….
    G+ doesn’t have as many people in your network, but right now the Communities feature is AWESOME. Great engagement. No spam. Meaningful connections. Try it Join a community that interests you. Right now I’m enjoying the “Craft Beer” community. It’s social!!!! Without all the crap described in the post (spam, adverts, etc).