This week Google enabled Google+ users to start sharing their circles with other users. Many folks, like me, who were included in circles by folks like Robert Scoble, Thomas Hawk, and Jason Calacanis saw their follower numbers jump. Hugely. Many users, like Fraser Smith found that their number of followers on Google+ eclipsed their number of followers on Twitter. Which confirms what many of us have been thinking—It isn’t Facebook Google is gunning for first, it’s Twitter.
You can poo-poo this tactic by Google and suggest that it’s just another flash (in the traffic) pan on G+ (especially since the traffic jump after Google opened up Google Plus to everyone), but Google Plus is slowly by surely growing in dominance as a social network in its own right. So much so that I think that Twitter needs to up its game to keep from being eclipsed in the next year.
Psst Twitter, see that red light flashing in the corner of your eye…
Right now the gap between the number of people who follow me on Twitter versus Google Plus is a meager 1400 people. That’s it 1400. If the pace of people adding me on Google Plus keeps up (I don’t expect it to realistically) I make up the 1400 gap in a day, maybe less. Why does this matter? Because it’s all about attention and reach. When Google launches brand pages on Google Plus, don’t you think brands are going to want to know how it stacks up against Twitter and Facebook? I wondered that, and posed the question last night on G+. I got more than 20 comments on that question last night and a few more today. Could I have had a similar response on Twitter? Sure, but I’d be hard pressed to give you a link to the entire conversation. This is where G+ is going to eat Twitter’s lunch. Twitter is great from sharing links and breaking news, conversations? Something that can easily be archived and shared later? Not so much. Twitter needs to figure out how it is going to adapt to a social media world where G+ isn’t just an upstart but now an upstager.
And figure it out fast.
Not that there aren’t criticisms about Google Plus…
Just for geeks? Maybe that’s okay.
Right now, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Google+ isn’t close to mainstream attention or use—yet. I think that’s okay, probably even for the best. Most of (maybe all) of the innovations we take for granted on Twitter (@ replies and hashtags are the best known) came into being during the time when Twitter was predominately a geek tool. We geeks don’t really like to hit boundaries or walls when using something. If we don’t like the way something is, we try to tweak, tune, rebuild or just generally futz with it until we do like it. Right now Google needs us geeks to push the boundaries create the kludgey hacks and all the things needed to make G+ awesome.
Trying to push Facebook out of the way, isn’t a task that Google (or any single company) is up for. Facebook is a huge marketing and traffic empire, but Facebook too will have to adapt to the Google Plus world. Maybe Facebook will become (essentially) the virtual clubhouse and social spot and Google Plus the information exchange (the library versus the student center). You need both, but some folks are always going to prefer one over the other.
That’s okay with me too. I always kinda liked the library.
Originally posted on the Future Shop Tech Blog.