Why Don’t I ‘Get’ Google+?

I’m a social kinda guy. I like to share things, sometimes too much in fact. Heck, I told the world I was going to be a father by posting a photo of our first scan yesterday, and it was awesome!

I posted the picture to Twitter. I posted it to Facebook. As an afterthought I decided to post it to Google+, too. Why not? It’s a social network, and I have an account that is in a few people’s circles.

I sat back and watched as my iPhone promptly tried to vibrate itself off the desk with people offering their congratulations, and again, it was awesome.

But I noticed a pattern, and it’s a pattern that in all honesty, wasn’t really all that surprising.

All those alerts, all those vibrations, were coming from the old stalwarts of Twitter and Facebook. Within minutes both timelines were filled with messages of congratulations, and it was, well, awesome.

But why wasn’t I getting a ton of vibrations from Google+? Was it because the boffins at Google still haven’t managed to make their iOS app handle notifications properly? Well, yes, but that’s not the full story.

Upon firing up the ‘designed-in-crayon’ interface I was met with my notifications. All three of them, and one of those seemed to have gone missing by the time I went to read what it said!

Now it may have just taken me seven paragraphs to get to a question, but bare with me for just another moment.

I’ve been a big fan of what Google has done with Plus (or +) since I first got in on the beta not long after it launched. The way it seemed to take the best parts of Facebook and Twitter while also adding a touch of magic appealed to me. The way it handles threads, or conversations is without a doubt infinitely better than Twitter, and definitely less creepy than Facebook. But, something’s missing.

That thing? People.

A cursory glace at my profiles for both Twitter and Google+ – I’m going to leave Facebook out of this, I’m still not convinced it’s useful as something other than a personal, family-oriented network – shows that the vast majority of my engagement is going to come from Twitter, with nearly four times as many people reading what I have to rant about. Granted, you’re going to say that plenty of my near-2,000 followers on Twitter are SPAM, and that may be true. I’m also not convinced that all those people that have me in circles on Google+ are real, either, so we’ll call it a draw.

What it all boils down to is this: if people aren’t reading what you have to say, then they won’t respond, and people responding is what makes social media, well, social. If starting a conversation is hard work, people will not do it, and if nobody replies, they will simply stop.

Google has been spouting numbers of late, claiming this and that about sign-ups and the number of messages posted to Plus (or +), but I’m really not seeing it. Maybe I’m just too entrenched in the way of the Twitters, but I’ve tried, I really have.

Even just reading my Google+ stream has become tiresome. Looking through it now I’m faced with what appears to be a glorified RSS stream, complete with lots of images and a few opening paragraphs of each post. It’s a mess, and it doesn’t make me want to scroll. At least if people post links on Twitter, you can ignore them. Links in Facebook are larger, but look different to normal content, making them easier to distinguish. Google+ seems intent on throwing half the destination’s content at you before you can run away.

What’s more, and again this may be the people I follow, but Plus does not seem to receive much in the way of ‘normal’ messages. Everything seems to have a link. Why is nobody just talking about the football game, or asking why their computer won’t work? It’s almost like it’s there to throw link at people, rather than actually be a place where people chat. A community.

Perhaps I just have the wrong people in my circles. I did make the mistake of following Robert Scoble at first, though I soon learned my lesson.

So, after all those paragraphs, and what amounts to a long-form whinge, I’m going to leave you with a long-form question:

What is it about Google+ that I’m missing? Why do I just not ‘get it?’

I would, hand on heart, seriously like to know where I am going wrong. Answers on a postcard, or preferably you can let me know in this specially created, you guessed it, Google+ thread right about….here.

I’d love to hear from you. At least then I’ll have something to read on Google+…

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