Notes on Google+

Is Google+ the second-largest social networking site? If so, who cares?


This is a rant: it is not aimed at a person or persons, and it does not dispute the findings, but it directs my ire at the general noise and heat that this piece of news has emitted. There are people who should care, such as Google employees and business consultants and strategists, but why should most ‘users’ care?

While I don’t post publicly on my Google+ profile stream, I’m an active user of Google+. For the past couple of days, I have been seeing a lot of posts, on Google+ and elsewhere, about how Google+ has become the second most used social networking site after Facebook, on the measures of active monthly users. The numbers are impressive, but what the numbers do not tell is the depth or frequency of use. Consider questions such as: how many times do they post, how much time do they spend, and how often do they use it? Someone just doing something on his or her Google+ profile once a month is an equally active monthly user, as someone who tweets the minutiae of his or her life, hours on end. Surely the qualitative, and quantitative, engagement of the latter, the incessant tweeter, is different from the former, someone who just did something once on Google+ in the past month?

Given how strongly Google has been pushing Google+ to the user bases of various Google products, I am not surprised by the number of active monthly users, however I am not convinced this number is reflected in the amount of engagement. Above all, what I don’t get is why people get so excited about it, and taking things really personally. There appears to be blind followers of the doctrines of Google infallibility and invincibility, who seem to think that the supposed glory of a social networking site they use will be reflected on their insignificant, miserable, sodden existence. Some Google+ users look down on Facebook users, in the same way as some Apple users look down on users of other products: no, using something doesn’t make someone superior, but it’s a matter of choice, and – in some cases – whether one can afford it or not. The social networking site I use is bigger and better than yours: it epitomizes how imbecile and infantile some people seem to be.

Frankly, I don’t care if Google+ is the second-largest social networking site in the world or not. I’m not Google who needs to demonstrate that Google+ is alive and well, and I don’t have an interest in having a conversation with hundreds of millions. What matters is that I find value in the product, engage with others, open my eyes to new discoveries on Google+. And it does provide great value to me. I like the product, and I like many people who use Google+. But it doesn’t mean I’m a better person for using Google+ instead of other social networking sites. Others will find value in other platforms, be it Facebook or Twitter.

There will be many chancers who will jump on the bandwagon, having miraculously become experts overnight in all matters Google+, flogging off their thinnest veneer of expertise to the unwary and the credulous, repeating the mantra that Google+ is the second-largest social networking site, and telling the marks that they cannot afford not to be on Google+. It is probably time for me to be more selective, in terms of with whom to engage on Google+, and what kind of places within the Google+ landscape to frequent, for the sake of my sanity.