Is Google+ Dead?

Is Google+ dead?  Dan Reimold certainly thinks so. In a post entitled “Google+: Social Media Upstart ‘Worse Than a Ghost Town‘” he suggest that Google+ may “simply [be ] a social media step too far” and is now “worse than a ghost town“.  In his conclusions he reflects on his personal experiences as a Google+ user:

As it stands, my Circles are sparse. The stream of updates has basically run dry — reduced to one buddy who regularly writes. My initial excitement about signing on and inviting people to join me has waned. Nowadays, I apparently get tired just thinking about it. 

A similar discussion about the relevance – and perhaps sustainability – took place amongst some of my Twitter followers recently. It seems that some feel Google+ is irrelevant and others are pleased with what they claim is a failed Google service and are waiting for the Diaspora service to be launched. However, as I said in the Twitter discussion, I am not convinced by this argument.

Why Google+ May be a Slow-Burner

Lessons from Growth of Twitter

In January 2011 in a post on Evidence of Personal Usage Of Social Web Services I described how use of the Tweetstats service provided me with evidence of growth of my Twitter usage which contradicted the understanding I had at the time. I had thought that I was an early adopter of Twitter and had used if fairly consistently since my first tweet in January 2007. But the Tweetstats graph (illustrated) shows little use in 2007. It wasn’t until early 2008 that I started to use Twitter on a regular basis.  The gaps in graph in the early part of 12008 puzzled me initially until I came across a blog post in which I described how I had made intensive use of Twitter whilst attending the Museums and the Web 2008 conference.  It seems that, perhaps due to a glitch in Twitter or Tweetstats, no usage had been detected for a period of a couple of months, which included the time when I first start to use Twitter on a regular basis.

Looking back it seems that attending a conference abroad made me aware of the benefits which Twitter can provide during a conference and that I soon became aware of the additional benefits which can be gained by developing links with one’s professional network.

A few days ago Aaron Tay pointed out that:

Some technology rewards getting in early e.g Twitter (early accs get more followers) & some don’t e.g qrcode

The post he cited (on the Seth Godin blog) made the observation that:

Worth considering: The difference between a technology where getting in early pays dividends, and those that don’t. For example, having a website or a blog or a Twitter account early can help, because each day you add new users and fans.

QR codes, on the other hand, don’t reward those that get in the ground floor. You can always start tomorrow.

Seth pointed out a important advantage that early adopters of social networks can have – the ease of gaining the critical mass which may be needed in order for the service to provide value.  There is a danger that this may be construed as a suggestion that the numbers of followers alone is a key factor in having an effective social networking service – and seeking new followers simply to enhance one’s Klout or Peerindex ranking is an example of misunderstanding of the relevance of a critical mass. Rather than simply indiscriminately seeking to grow large numbers of followers it you are looking to use a social network for professional purposes there is a need for to be reach the critical mass across one’s peers.

I recently installed the Social Bros application which provides evidence of personal use of Twitter.  I used this recently to investigate the number of followers the people I follow on Twitter have.  As can be seem most of the people I follow have 100-500 followers, with significant numbers having 1,000-5,000 and 500-1,000 followers. In order to develop a community of this size it can be useful to be an early adopter so that one can stake a claim. The following influx of users will have to search for contacts, and, having spotted and made contact with you, you will be able to reciprocate, if  you so choose.

As described in a Wikipedia entry on the Network Effectsites like Twitter and Facebook [become] more useful the more users join“. But as well as users needing a critical mass and an understanding of the benefits of the service, there will also be a need for east-to-use tools. Initially I used the Twitter Web site but as I discovered from reading my early posts about Twitter,  I was using the Twhirl client around the time my Twitter use became embedded in my daily work routine.  The Tweetstats service I mentioned earlier also provides me with statistics on the Twitter clients I have used.  As can be seen Tweetdeck is now my preferred tool, with the usage statistics of the Web client primarily either reflecting, I suspect, my early use of the Web or use in Internet cafes.

Implications for My Use of Google+

What lessons might we learn from these reflections on how Twitter developed from claiming an id but making little use to finding valuable (and unexpected)  use cases which lead to the service being embedded in my professional life which can be applied to Google+?

Like, I suspect, many others of my peers I have claimed a Google+ account and have established contacts with people I know from both real world and online interactions (there are currently 116 people in my circles and 385 people who have included me in their circle).

Yesterday I found that Google+ accounts are now freely available to everyone, so the comment I have heard that Google+ is exclusive to the early adopters is not longer the case.

I also heard yesterday that Google+ have released APIs which should help in developing a richer environment of tools and services based around Google+ (in this case, use of Huddle) which, I feel, was valuable in Twitter becoming mainstream.

The Google+ service itself is becoming richer in functionality, with recent tweets from Aaron Tay alerting me to articles which describe how “Google+ Hangouts Go Mobile & Get More Collaborative” and explain “Why Google Plus Hangouts is the Killer App: Docs“.

It seems to me that it is now timely to explore ways in which Google+ may deliver benefits and also to gain an understanding of best practices including personal work flow processes.  Earlier this year I set up a daily blog which I used to keep notes and ideas.  I spotted using it after six months, partly because I felt I was getting little new from using a second WordPress blog.  However I’ve now made a decision to use Google+ as a middle ground between the (sometimes, as in this case, long) posts I publish on this blog and the conversations and  announcements which take place on Twitter.

Anyone else planning to make greater use of Google+? Or, like Dan Reimold, do you feel it’s a ghost town and is unlike to have a significant role to play?