Google+ is making moves. Many are saying that it’s not the ghost town that it was believed to be less than a year ago. It’s technically bigger than Twitter. Communities were a nice addition (if you turn the notifications off) that seem to be taking off. The future looks brighter than ever for Google’s 547th attempt at getting into social media.
They have one major flaw that they still consider a strength. By keeping their API access limited, they’ve been able to keep most of the automation, some of the spam, and all of the posting problems that Facebook has to deal with on a regular basis due to their integration with just about everybody. You can post to Facebook using literally thousands of different apps, websites, and methods. On Google+, you can only post through the tiny array of approved tools like Hootsuite and Viral Heat. It keeps them safe and protected, giving them a limited number of entries to monitor as they grow the service.
It also holds them back tremendously.
Facebook may be too open when it comes to posting. Still, Google+ is definitely too closed, at least from the perspective of growth and content. By not integrating with popular sites and services like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, they are limiting the ways through which people can post. Facebook allows these and so many other services to post directly on Facebook, to share content posted elsewhere, and to share the Facebook posts themselves on other networks. Google+ does not.
Take Pinterest, for example. With a click of a button, pins can be posted on Facebook and Twitter while they’re going live on Pinterest itself. It’s a great way to promote Pinterest posts and keep the content flowing on Twitter and Facebook. Without Google+ integration, there is very little chance of exposure there. Google+ cannot help expose your pins and Pinterest cannot help to put interesting content on Google+.
They know this. It’s part of their plan, and while I’m not in a position to make recommendations to Google, this is one that seems to stand out in glaring fashion. Will they ever start integrating? Probably. Are they ready to do it now? Absolutely. In fact, they were ready a year ago. They seem to be creating a “premium” social network in many ways. Elitist. It’s working from certain perspectives, but at some point the idea of having “the cool kids on G+” will wear off. It has to. The spread is rapid, but not as rapid as Facebook’s despite them being much larger at this point.
If Google takes the measured step of slipping in integration with other apps, they will be able to hit the tipping point of adoption that has still evaded them despite their growth. They are service is only big when you look at the right numbers, and even the “right” numbers are misleading. People are spending a great deal of time on Facebook every day, more than they’re spending on Google+ in a week, even a month. They have the users. They just don’t have the integration or interest level to make them more mainstream.
Google+ will succeed. Their direction is pretty solid, but it’s flawed. They’re doing well, but they could do much better to open up, even if only a little at a time.