Yep…Google Plus Is Still A Social Networking Site And Still A Failure

English: stamp with the words "Fail"...

Guess who was out selling a sucky product yesterday?

Google’s vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra is trying desperately to make Google Plus a success, at least to the media. He desperately wants to change the negative public perception of Google Plus by trying to shove the product down our throats until it catches on.

After the Wall Street Journal called Google Plus a “virtual ghost town” because of the dismal user engagement on the social networking site – Mr. Gundotra has been speaking to the media denying that it’s a ghost town. Google believes that Google Plus is a success and they measure that success by “every metric [Google] care about”

Vic Gundotra spoke at a SXSW event yesterday where he tried to explain why he thinks Google Plus is doing well. Yet again, Mr. Gundotra made the claim that Google Plus sees 100 million active users every month. They don’t strictly base this calculation on how many people actually use their social networking site. If you have a Google Plus account and you never actually engage with Google’s social networking site but you use Gmail, YouTube, the search engine, or any other “Google Plus –enhanced” product then Google will count this as engagement on Google Plus too.

They actually use the numbers from other Google owned websites to give Google Plus a boost. They have no problem notifying the media about engagement numbers for YouTube by sharing how many videos are uploaded every day to the site – but when it comes to their social networking site you have to measure its success based on the success of other Google sites. Ha!

Mr. Gundotra even compared their entire social networking site, Google Plus, to a “like” button.  I kid you not! He argues that measuring the success of Google Plus based on those who directly sign in to the social networking site and engage with it fully, is akin to measuring the success of a “like” button. The “like” button is just a bonus tool that gives you more to do but it isn’t a standalone product– well, apparently, Google Plus is just a site that gives you more to do on Google as whole but isn’t a standalone site.

Google is fighting against comparisons to Facebook because they know that if becomes a competition against two social networking sites, Google will inevitably lose. So Google’s strategy is to not even compete with Facebook – at least not overtly. This is why Google doesn’t even like calling Google Plus a social networking site, they prefer instead to call it a “social layer”. Again, this is Google trying to claim that Google Plus isn’t a standalone site, but one where you can use a social tool to enhance your Google experience as a whole.

When Google Plus was compared to Facebook, a Google engineering director whose team built Google Plus responded by saying this:

“I disagree. When you say, ‘It offers the same functionality as Facebook’…what It are you referring to? See Facebook has Facebook Music. What is our music feature called? Oh yes…Google Music. Facebook has messaging. Ours is Gmail. Facebook has chat. Ours: Google Talk. See the difference is that we think ‘Google’ is the ‘it’. All of Google. Every part. You think it’s just ‘plus.google.com’. That is the difference.”

So, by this way of looking at it, I guess what Google is trying to say is that Google itself is the entire social networking site. You share videos on YouTube, you share messages on Gmail, you look for stuff on the search engine, etc. These are all things Facebook has in equivalence somewhere on their site too. Therefore, what Google Plus really becomes for Google is a way for Google to retrieve your legal name (they force you to use your legal name), your address, your contacts, your photographs, and other sensitive data about you. This way, Google can fulfill its mission to combat against “the faceless web” and start selling your personal data to advertisers for bigger profits.  Google Plus isn’t about getting more social -it’s about making it easier to monetize your personal data.

This is why Google Plus fails – it doesn’t focus on social interaction and engagement. As long as Google has key personal data about you, they couldn’t care less if you engage with Google Plus for hours or three seconds. As long as they know your personal information, who your friends are, and what you’re “liking” (or “+1-ing“) all over the web – then it’s all good.  This is what Mr. Gundotra said,

“You can think of Google+ as Google 2.0. In the new version of Google, we know your name, we know your circles and we make (our) services better… Everything is being upgraded. We already have users. We’re now upgrading them to what we consider Google 2.0”

The more Google knows about you the better it is for Google. This is why Google is so envious of Facebook. Unlike Google, Facebook has a treasure trove of personal data which advertisers love. Google wants a slice of that coveted data and they are willing to say and do anything to get it.

Google will deny and lie to change public perception. The truth is that Google Plus is a social networking website – they can call it a “social layer” till the cows come home, but we all know the truth. The truth is that Google Plus is indeed a virtual ghost town. Even the man interviewing Mr. Gundotra at the SXSW event, who’s a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and fan of Google Plus, admitted that Google Plus is basically dead inside. Mr. Gundotra countered by saying

“Make sure you’re using it correctly”

Perhaps, instead of blaming the users, Google should have made sure to build it correctly. If people are not using Google Plus correctly it’s because you didn’t build it correctly. Google Plus is an utter failure and Google’s true motives are plain as day.

For more information:

All Things Digital, “Google’s Vic Gundotra on Why Plus Isn’t a Minus” – click here

Mashable, “Google+ Executive to Critic: ‘Make Sure You’re Using It Correctly’” – click here

googleexposed, “Google Fails To Convince The Public That Google Plus Isn’t A Failure” – click here

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