Watching the launch of Google+ from my relatively remote vantage point (something big always happens when I go on holiday), it seemed like an absolute masterstroke. The initially limited user base and subtly sporadic invite system got people clamouring for inclusion in the new social network platform.
The result was that it flipped the whole concept of a social media platform launch on its head – rather than begging potential users to get involved, potential users were begging for an invite. There was even talk of invites selling on EBay for up to $75. The process appealed to people’s desire for exclusivity - to be part of the ‘in-crowd’. However, with the hindsight of one month passing since the launch, I can see that the process was flawed, or at least lacked a vital ingredient. Much has been written about the initial user base of Google+, with FindPeopleOnPlus publishing figures segmenting the occupations and gender of people that have signed up. The consensus from these stats is that it is the geeky 21 to 40-year-old professionals that were tempted to the honey by the clever invite system. They needed to be the first to take a look to recognise an opportunity for their business or personal brand. However, a simple analysis of the timeline of the success of Facebook will illustrate that it is the filtering down from the 16 to 24-year-olds (the coolest demographic around) to the rest of society that brought it success -not geeky professionals. The launch of Google+, for all its brilliance, has so far lacked real mainstream appeal. The ordinary 16 to 24-year-old wasn’t really interested. The invite system didn’t appeal to their sense of being part of the ‘in-crowd,’ because none of their cool friends had signed up. And unlike the geeky 21 to 40-year-olds that signed up, there was no sense that they needed to be the first to get a look at something new. In other words, they still need to be begged to get involved. To attract these vital users, Google+ needs to get to the heart of their influencers – one such group being celebrities. Twitter uptake was relatively slow until it became the social media platform of choice for the majority of the ‘Celeberati.’ That Twitter hasn’t managed to convert initial interest into regular use amongst the 18 to 24-year-old demographic is a different issue, but it has definitely been celebrities that have tempted them to at least have a look. It would be quite easy to tempt celebrities to Google+. Payment is an obvious option, but its functionality is also perfect for the heightened sense of privacy of the celebrity. On Google+, they can choose which of their circles can see what, so publicity blunders won’t be as common. Get celebrities involved and interest will be stirred amongst the 18 to 24-year-old demographic, leaving Facebook with a more serious contender to its throne. What are your thoughts after the first month? [email protected]