Google+ 1 me?

If you haven’t already heard, Google is taking yet another foray into social media with the newly release Google+. The concept is interesting (especially the +Circles method of organizing acquaintances) and is something I’m sure many people would like to try. However, there’s the rub. Lot’s of us who hate Facebook (or are simply tech junkies) would love to try Google+ but cannot do so since it is invite only. This is par for the course when it comes to Google projects since it:

  1. Allows them to scale slowly.
  2. Do their A/B testing in waves.
  3. Build anticipation for a full release.

In addition to this, Google is trying to solve the problem of initial population seed with this reasoning:

The inability of Google+ users to instantly import their Facebook connections underlies the biggest immediate challenge to the product: Like all social networks, its value is directly related to the degree that one’s friends and contacts are also participating. Beginning a social network is always a huge risk because of the chicken-and-egg problem — the whole thing doesn’t work unless a user’s friends and contacts are on board. Otherwise the place risks becoming an “Emptytown” where people try it, are unable to connect with anyone and then forget about it.

Google hopes that its slow rollout will encourage a steady momentum, and in the early stages Google+ will provide enough value to keep the early adopters engaged, and that it will motivate them to invite their contacts.


So basically Google is banking on their service to be awesome enough to keep users vested in the product. You know, this reminds me of another cool service that failed… oh yeah. Wave.

I’ll admit that I have a certain affinity for Google products and like to keep tabs on the news services they create. However, what pisses me off about their slow rollout strategy is that I have never gotten an early invite to any of these services. Google Buzz, with its instant turn on for everyone, was the sole exception and guess what? I still use it despite the early privacy problems. Google’s best bet in getting into the social arena is to go all in at the beginning and take advantage of the initial hype. If their platform is really so good that initial users will stay engaged, then having a larger (or unlimited) initial seed will help them build momentum faster and reduce the risk of the population dying out before the next wave of users (pun intended) come in (ex: perhaps rollout by region). All I’m asking for is a bit more info as to when new users can join in on the fun.

I also find it disingenuous to call the select group of initial users “early adopters.” They didn’t adopt anything. They were part of the chosen few. None of the people who saw the blog post on day 1 got to adopt anything. Here is a marketing tip for you Google – if you plan on creating hype and doing this:

Google+ is in limited Field Trial
Right now, we’re testing with a small number of people, but it won’t be long before the Google+ project is ready for everyone. Leave us your email address and we’ll make sure you’re the first to know when we’re ready to invite more people.
Then you should take a page out of Apple’s book and leak bits of information at controlled intervals. Use viral marketing to its fullest (you do own YouTube after all) and “leak” videos about the new service with a vague notion of a release date. Let your initial users take screenshots or desktop videos and post them on YouTube as a way to generate hype and garner instant feedback on what looks good/bad. As for the actual release date, it can be set right around the time when Google+ “is ready for everyone.” Let the hype engine build slowly and then open it up to everyone. Otherwise, all you are doing is pouring gasoline onto a fire without adding any wood. Tons of hype but quick burn out.


P.S. If you want more evidence of kind of negative backlash can be caused by a slow rollout, take Reddit’s recent April Fool’s prank as a case study. For those of us who didn’t get to join in early on, we ended up giving up on Reddit for a day and concluded that the prank had potential but was executed poorly. This is what will happen to Google+.
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