As far as social networks go, Google+ has been lagging behind Twitter and Facebook ever since it’s inception. Because it is from Google and is being more tightly integrated into other Google services, including search, you might think Google would have a strong advantage, but Google+ has failed to catch up to the market leaders. Google has been continually adding new things to Google+ but with little effect.
Google+ Communities, the latest addition however, shows the greatest promise of all and could be the thing that gets Google+ off the mat. Communities is simply a way to organize content and people into logical interest groups. There are already hundreds of groups on all manner of topics. Sometimes, instead of focusing on the general stream, it’s more appealing to jump into a specific interest and go deeper. I think interest groups like these engender more engagement. For me, Google+ is already better because of the communities.
The big problem Google has is that Facebook has had Facebook Groups for a long time and they have done well. Also, if you are going to start a community doesn’t it make more sense to start it on the network with ten times more people? Google has that chicken and egg scale problem. They are not big enough to get people to commit energy to and without people committing energy to the platform they will never grow. Facebook has that critical mass of users and that’s a nearly impossible nut to crack. As nice as Google+ communities are they are after all just a copycat of Facebook groups and that’s not going to be enough juice to cause a breakthrough. Google thought hangouts would be the killer feature that would get people over to Google+ but not even that works. My daughter and her friends use Skype when they want to video chat and don’t see hangouts as useful at all.
I hold out hope for Google+ and would like it to do well if for no other reason than to keep Facebook and Twitter honest. Good competition is the best thing for consumers and the market in general. And what about this as a parting shot. You see nearly everywhere today Twitter and Facebook icons and references in marketing materials and even on TV shows. When was the last time you saw a Google+ reference?