10 Obstacles Google+ Must Overcome

Can Google compete in social?

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10 Obstacles Google+ Must Overcome
[ Social Media]

Google has a pretty large task in creating a successful social network. This isn’t the first time the company has tried to do this either, but early buzz about Google+ has been fairly positive, though there is certainly some negative out there too.

Google has its work cut out for it competing with the monster that is Facebook in the social networking space, even though Google says it’s not really a Facebook competitor. Right.

Google has plenty of obstacles to overcome if this is going to be a huge success. Here are some of them.

1. Most people don’t want to leave Facebook.

Sure there are plenty of people out there looking for a good alternative to Facebook. Some of them have found it with Twitter. Some want something better. That said, it is highly doubtful that the majority of Facebook users are looking for something else. They like Facebook just fine, and aren’t looking for a reason to leave.

Sure, it’s possible to use both, but as long as people still have the majority of their friends on Facebook, and not so many on Google+ this is going to be a hard nut to crack. Not an impossible nut, but a hard one.

2. People are already gravitating more toward Twitter.

Speaking of Twitter, it is growing pretty well. It’s also about to be integrated into the hugely popular iOS. Many of the users will also be using Facebook. Google+ is simply another thing to add to the list, and could be deemed an added burden.

3. Google’s previous attempts at social

Google doesn’t have the best track record or reputation when it comes to social. Some of this is simply perception, because YouTube is social and it’s obviously a huge success, but it was acquired by Google – not created by Google, and one could argue that it’s not the social aspect of YouTube that is its main driving force, but the simple fact that it has tons and tons of stuff to watch.

4. Google’s reputation for privacy

When Google launched Google Buzz, it was a huge privacy fiasco, and one that is still in the news. Google greatly damaged its reputation in the area of privacy with this. It’s not hard to find commentary throughout the web indicating growing distrust of the company in general, whether justified or not. Reputation can go a long way.

5. People largely still think about Google as search

One of Google’s biggest challenges is its existing success. Google has become synonymous with search. Google is a verb, that means to search for something on Google. People don’t think to go to Google to share things necessarily. They think to go to Google to search.

Yes, Google has many products that do many different things outside of the realm of search, but first and foremost to most people, Google is still search, and Facebook is friends. That’s another hard nut to crack.

6. The Like Button

Speaking of Facebook being friends, that “like” button that is everywhere on the Internet, has been quite powerful, and is the premier way that people share content now, I believe. Google has the +1 Button. Not so much. At this point (disregarding the Buzz button for a moment, which doesn’t have much to do with Google+ at the moment), publishers are asking people to either “like” this and share with your friends, or “+1″ this so that other people that you may or may not know may be able to find it in search results for some query that may or may not be searched for. Which one is going to get clicked more?

7. The Retweet button

See numbers 2 and 6.

8. Bing

Back to number 5 for a moment. Google is synonymous with search, but it is still the key ingredient to keeping people using Google+. Meanwhile, Bing is just going to continue to gain market share. The more people using Bing as their default search engine, means the less people using Google, which will likely mean less using Google+.

Realistically, Bing currently doesn’t come close to Google in market share at this point. Whether it ever will remains to be seen, but so far it’s been growing fairly steadily, and now Google faces FTC scrutiny over its competitive practices. When Microsoft was in a similar situation, it greatly set the company back in innovation for years, many people say. Depending on the outcome of that, it’s hard to say what Google’s future will hold.

9. Yahoo

Yahoo still makes up another significant segment of search market share, and maybe even more importantly, It still has a very strong presence in other key areas like email,finance, news, etc.

Part of the Google+ strategy is that it extends across Google products. Some of these products compete directly with some of Yahoo’s strong points. Let’s not forget that Yahoo is also in the connected TV space, where Google is still trying to gain more significant market share.

10. Complexity

The sheer complexity of Google+ may also work against it, particularly when you pair it with number one. You’re trying to get people to use your service instead of Facebook’s, while trying to sell an overly-complicated concept (mainly with Circles. Read this explanation of the feature.).

In the end, it might not really be as complex as it seems, but again, perception goes a long way. If it even seems complicated at a glance, and all of your friends are already doing just fine on Facebook, how big is the incentive?

To be clear, I’m not saying any of these things mean that Google+ won’t succeed. It’s entirely possible that it could become a huge hit. It wouldn’t even have to dethrone Facebook to be a big hit. I think we can consider Twitter a hit, and it doesn’t even come close to Facebook in terms of users.

Suffice it to say, Google has its work cut out for it.

Read 39 Things You Should Know About Google+ here.

10 Obstacles Google+ Must Overcome
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  • Bob

    I’ll be damned and goto hell and back! Is that the Chris Crum we grew to love here? I think The Script Kiddies hacked not only Foxnews’s Twitter account but Chris’ WPN account too! That can’t be Chris. Chris is a die-hard, Duracell type of Google fanboi. :-)

    Push harder guys! Chris is almost there! He is turning on Google! I never thought I’d see this day. I’ll be damned.

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  • http://causesofstroke.blogspot.com/ causes of stroke

    looks like a tough competetor to facebook. But we have to wait for atleast 2 quarters to compare results of both facebook and google plus.

  • http://www.webdesigncapetown.co.za Mark

    The first point you brought up is a valid one. Alot of my mates are not tech savy and already have a facebook app on their phone, so they dont want to even go and try Google +. Which is quite a shame because i think Google + has alot to offer. If all of my friends are still on Facebook, will i still use Google +, probably not.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/white-hat-link-building Nick Stamoulis

    I think point number 3 might be the biggest uphill battle for Google. People don’t expect Google+ to succeed because they have seen Google fail at social time and time again. That kind of prejudice is hard to overcome.

  • http://interactive-arts.com Chip

    Can Google compete in social? I don’t think they can, but I also don’t think that this will impact Google’s bottom line that much.

    People are always going to have a desire to search for information online. Sure, you can get some information from friends and others through social networking, but do your friends have all the answers? No… this is where search comes into play.

    With search you can:
    1) Find the best price on specific products
    2) Find out what’s showing at the local theater
    3) Search for news about companies, people, etc..
    4) Search for how-to information
    5) etc., etc.

    Google can’t be all things to all people, I don’t see the need for them to become the leader in the social network space. They have their place and should continue to provide the best search results for information that people are looking for.

  • http://www.platinumlynx.net Chas

    Point #4; since when did Facebook gain a stellar reputation for privacy? I’d say they’re on the same playing field, as Google, there. Point #9; for all intents and purposes, Yahoo’s search engine is Bing. Thankfully, I still have Lycos to choose from as well(I know, the red-headed step-child of Yahoo/Bing). I don’t see Google+ as an alternative to Facebook; just more of the same, and that’s where they missed the mark.

  • http://www.theinsurancequotes.org/ Zatari

    To my knowledge, I say that Google + will go beyond these obstacles will take the lead in the social networking world of Facebook

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    Google might have difficulty with extra curricular activity because they don’t have an obvious link or way to get to those external sites from their home page. Yahoo’s page has everything that’s important to them right on their page. It’s amazing to me that the king of search doesn’t realize that they need to have people see it if they want them to click it!

  • http://www.webmarketingtips4u.com/ TPJaveton

    In a recent comment I said that the success or failure of Google+ may depend on how much <blockquote cite"…time, devotion, and other resources required to launch a sure winner on the Social Network scene…" is invested in the new project. My comment was based on the fact that the company Google is involved in so many other “businesses” (or areas, if you like).

    After posting my comment I came across this TechCrunch article on the Seeking Alpha website which provided a more researched perspective of other “fronts” the search engine is having to deal with due to “attacks” from some very worthy opponents.

    With all this activity going on all around it, Google will prove to be unbeatable under any circumstances “IF” the company can emerge from these battles relatively unscathed.


  • Jon

    The thing I really dont like with +1 is the way that Google Adwords users have been opted in by default. This means that friends of Fred are invited to click on the same Adwords that Fred has clicked on.

    This made me very angry – I would not mind we were not “opted in by default” – to make matters worse the obscurely signposted “opt out” page was not working properly when I came to use it.

    I resent Google deciding how I spend my money on Adwords.

    I have very carefully targetted my audience and it is very geo-sensitive – I do not want Freds friends all clicking on my ads and costing me money – if Freds friends dont live in my geo location then they are not of interest to me. I was content with the filter mechanisms provided by Google up until that point – I opted for Search engine results only for specific key phrases and tight geo location. I feel Google have decided how I should spend my money and opted me into a scheme by default with a buggy opt out mechanism.

    Sure Google are losing ground to Facebook and the react as any commercial entity will do – they fight back but the adwords tie in has been mis-managed and will be looked upon very cynically by those who resent losing the level of control they currently have over their Adwords accounts. Always Always offer new schemes to paying customers as an opt-in opportunity – dont automatically opt them in.

  • http://www.studioartistx.nl Alexander

    I think the biggest mistake Google makes, for years now, is to try to copy it’s competitors, while they are not even direct competitors. Twitter and Facebook are no search engines at all. However, they do have a huge crowd hanging there all day and night long,.. so, Google wants them rather to hang on Google networks. Perhaps Google should think out of the box and start socialising in real sense, without wishing to beat the competitors. The real question is, do u want to build something because u’re afraid of competition, or because u really have a great idea + plan?!

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  • http://www.seowebexpert.co.uk Dave Jenkins

    Just look Google are the dominating force in the search market, Facebook is at the top of the social networking tree and most people don’t like change.

  • http://www.kmhkreations.net Duncan Harmsworth

    Having tried the Google+, and tried the hangouts, which was a video chat like in futuristic movies (10 people at once), I would say that Google+ is going to stick around. You can add all your profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to your account, which to me says that Google may not replace Facebook or Twitter, but become a complete nexus of social media networks, with enhanced features.

    Eventually though, who knows….

  • http://www.iprimus.com.au A Mathew

    Google can make it happen using their resources and technology. Google can out ride Facebook if it offers exciting features in a simple way which Facebook doesn’t offer. People are looking for new avenues and willing to try it.

  • http://www.onlinedigitalmarketing.com.au/ Umyra

    Well, yes branding plays an important role in this scene.

    People already got vicious in Facebook and migrate will not be easy. They must be pushed by enthusiasts. At my mind, Google brand looks so serious and technical that it might scare some users.

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  • http://www.mohanarun.com Mohan Arun

    “+1″ this so that other people that you may or may not know may be able to find it in search results for some query that may or may not be searched for.” I think this ‘positioning’ could have been better, on the same lines of facebook /twitter – like if you click +1 on a page then people following you in their ‘following’ circle will see that you +1’d this page. There doesnt seem to be an easy way to see how to get +1’d updates from people you have in your ‘following’ circle, in google plus.

  • http://www.StGeorgeHomeScene.com Annette

    I like the Google + circles. Being able to comment freely within different groups makes a lot of sense to me. Haven’t been able to explore it all yet, but we will see.

  • http://www.foxsearch.co.uk Aaron McCluskey

    Looking at it from my perspective the only people I see excited about the + 1 button are web developers and those involved with SEO as a means to increase SERP’s.

    I’ll certainly give it a go, it’s Google after all and something new to try!

  • http://guitarandblues.blogspot.com/ gregory

    New ideas are always interesting.Such a giant like Google take into account the errors of others and the Google + will be the best.

  • http://www.website-consultancy.com/seo-cornwall/ Website Consultancy Penzance

    I can’t really see the point of Google+, I wish they’d stick to what they’re good at – search, and let other companies dominate other sectors. But I suppose it is all about money and where you can slot in some more advertising.

  • http://www.hugopickering.com Hugo Pickering

    Come on Chris. Was this article written late at night or something? It’s not up to your usual standards and almost smacks of someone else’s uninformed writing.

    Google+ can certainly compete in social, but even Google wouldn’t have the audacity to think that they are launching the Facebook killer, hoping that all Facebook users will instantly migrate to the newbie. Rather it has aspirations to use Circles, Huddles and other interesting features in innovative ways that open up new avenues of thought about how we interact online.

    You also place Twitter on a level with Facebook when people use them for very different purposes and reasons – people don’t migrate from Facebook to Twitter to do the same things, you know.

    Circles is hardly going to be difficult to master – a visual interface is all that’s required to give users control of privacy, which is likely to be the way Google goes about this. Remember they learnt a lot from Buzz and that will be factored in to the development as well as the marketing.

    Give it time and don’t speculate too much – let Google Plus have its day and we will all see what happens.

    BTW, if I come across as supporting the project it’s only because I want to see competition rather than monopolies or even oligopolies: Open-minded thinking!>/i>

  • http://www.gikmedia.com/ GIK

    I have no doubt google are doing it to get more info after all that’s what googles all about really buying and selling advertising data. I also personally believe Facebook on the decline because as the movie says is it “Cool” any more Twitter seems to be the big thing. I think google+ will become big as many users already have a relationship with google. Most people I know have google set as their homepage and some have a google email account. I use analytics. If google really wants to push it and become the biggest they probably can.

  • http://www.myJavita.com/conklin John Conklin

    i think this will be a success for people who do networking marketing. I’m always looking for new social networking to improve my business. I can’t wait for it to launch so I can try it out.

  • http://www.macoway.com Macoway

    Google Should stay to Web Search , they might get users confused in time …

  • asdf@asdf.asdf

    only the first 5 problems can be related with G+.
    the other ones are just to fill the article with b……t
    6. G+ is still in beta test and “+1″ came out 2 months ago… how do you expect it already is as popular as “like”
    7. like he says 2 & 6
    8. Even if growing Bing is used by less than 15% of internet users moreover if you use Bing it doesn’t mean you cannot use G+. if you just try you could again start using google as default search engine
    9. same as 8
    10. different does not mean complex, I think here meanings were confused

  • http://www.thumoo.com Daniel

    One thing I have seen from Google from its very beginning is that it is a company that learns from its mistakes. Google Wave may have been a complete flop, but they will learn from this.

    With regard to Facebook, my personal opinion is I cannot wait for an alternative to come out. I use it because I have to – and I have not come across anyone who wouldn’t consider transfering to another social network if it showed signs of being more “in control of the user”.

    On a slight tangent, the “+1″ and “like” buttons have always bothered me. It seems that we are either being forced to not have an opinion or to be positive. I have already seen in search results the “+1″ for sites which I would like to have clicked “-1″ but this is not an opinion apparently!

  • http://www.destinationgraphix.com Gabrielle

    Like it or not Google is positioning it as another “have to” because they intend to use for search ranking. In business, I think of alot of people could care less. It’s an added expense and layer to compete online.

  • http://NewMovementMedia.com Shawn Lyles

    Even though Google has tried to enter into the social networking platform in the past without much success. I believe that the Google + platform will prove to be a competitor againt Twitter and even Facebook. That is my prediction, but we will have to see…

  • http://www.shjawcrusher.com lmcrusher

    Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews

  • JM

    I’ve predicted every single project failure of Google. Google + will go nowhere. Soon you’ll hear nobody talking about it. Give it a few months and Google will axe it. Google is good at nothing. They got lucky with search at a time few people had a computer. The only obstacles they have to overcome is themselves. They don’t have the heart or the patience to succeed at anything. If they don’t buy it, it will rarely succeed. They just throw crap at the wall to see what sticks. They missed their only chance to succeed at social by not buying Myspace.

    I also predict Facebook getting into search within the next 3 years and knocking Google down to second place. Google’s stock will take a big hit just with the news.

    • Anthony

      2001 few people had computers? I even lived in kentucky and my dad made 30k and I still had AOL. Google makes great products. Have fun proving me wrong with that. They have there usages and there all free. Seems like win when apple charges for everything and microsoft just cant program.

  • http://www.miwebilimitada.com.ve/ Andrea – diseño de paginas web

    The truth is very hard to believe that Google can send you a facebook strong competition. People just want to facebook. But you never know already that google is very capable people. I hope google + is good. :)

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  • http://www.askiyogi.com/ jordanstella

    The points you mentioned are perfectly fine but there is one more obstacles to Google+ is google is not a pure social networking site and Facebook is pure social networking site. The trust factor in user is more than the Google+ in Facebook in many reasons like privacy, use of applications, easy use of google+.

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    With regard to Facebook, my personal opinion is I cannot wait for an alternative to come out. I use it because I have to – and I have not come across anyone who wouldn’t consider transfering to another social network if it showed signs of being more “in control of the user”

  • http://pariurisportive24.ro/ pariuri sportive

    I think a serious and powerful company as Google will be able to overcome all this obstacles. Even if people are used with Facebook and Twitter, there is always a place for new and interesting things.

  • http://www.tgl.com.bd/ Clipping Path

    To develop a successful social network could never be done by Google. We saw Buzz a huge flop in the past. So I don’t think, Google may succeed this time also. But its really become a huge challenge for Google to stay on the market as Facebook going forward so fast. If Google can’t succeed in this mission, they will lose the attention towards the users. Facebook replacing all the services one by one which Google offers such as mail service, file transfer and recently added video chat which are becoming popular and handy. Still people prefer to search on Google and if Facebook can hit there, Google will come to face a big lose. So to stay on the long run, Google have to establish this project really fruitful.

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