What are we supposed to do with Google+?
I find Google+ confusing. Not its features or its design, but rather how I’m meant to use it. I find myself regularly asking the following questions:
- Is Plus simply Google’s version of Facebook? Maybe. But if that’s the case, does that mean I should switch from Facebook to Google+? And if I do that, what about the people in my Facebook friends list who don’t also switch to Google+… should I leave them behind?
- Is Plus Google’s attempt to create an additional social networking site that appeals to people who do not like Facebook or like Google’s design sense and tools/infrastructure more? Maybe. But if that’s the case, is there really a user base large enough when you remove anyone using Facebook? And if not, won’t that keep Google+ niche? And if it’s niche, doesn’t that sort of destroy the purpose of a social networking site? And also, would Google+ really appeal to someone who dislikes Facebook when, at its core, it offers most of the same features and functionality?
- Is Plus an experiment? Maybe. But there sure are a lot of talented people working on it. Then again, I’m sure the Wave team was loaded with smart people. And if it’s an experiment, what is it trying to test? Whether or not people want a different social network? And also, if the experiment proves people do want an alternative, is Google+ the best one? Will that guarantee its success?
I don’t know the answer to any of these. I know Google+ is mostly well designed. I know it has a few interesting features (circles and hangouts) and a few problems (incoming is basically easy spam). I know I have 189 people in my circles and that 1,494 have me in theirs. But I’m not sure what this all means.
What it boils down to for me is this: When I go to post a photo, where do I put it? Flickr, of course, because that’s where I put photos. But then there are lots of people (family, old co-workers, et cetera) who don’t have Flickr accounts. And I want them to see these photos. So I put them where everyone is. These days, that’s Facebook. But should I also put them on Google+? And where does this end? They’re on my blog, too. Do I draw the line and say, hey, thanks for following me on Google+, but you should really just subscribe to my Facebook account or check out my website or hit my Flickr stream? Do I really want yet another place of content I have to manage? Is Google+ ever going to beat Facebook in the sense that most of my friends and loved ones will use that service instead? And if not, is there a point to putting anything there at all?
I’m not sure.