Google+ launched to much fanfare in June and there were all sorts of people proclaiming either its superiority to Facebook or what an utter failure it would be. Since June, the social networking platform has added 25 million users, but there isn't a whole lot of buzz about it and using it still feels like an afterthought.
Several people I've spoken with tell me that they often forget to use it. I've thought on a few occasions that if I had something important to post -- a link to a blog post on the Houston Press, for example -- I would immediately go to Twitter and Facebook, but think, "Oh, right, I guess I should add it to Google+ too?"
There is a lot to like about Google+ as well. The video conferencing, group chat and ease of use in creating and managing circles are impressive. But, setting "buzz" aside for a moment, there are still some legitimate issues that leave me concerned about its future and wondering why I should even bother continuing to mess with it at all. Some of them could be fixed. Others are a little trickier. Here are five hurdles Google+ faces in the battle for the hearts and minds of social networkers.
5. Familiarity One of the biggest problems Google+ will continue to face is the simple issue of users not being in the habit of using it to post updates or look for updates from friends. Facebook and Twitter, for many who use various social networking platforms, are automatic. Branching out, YouTube, Flickr and FourSquare are all widely used. Google+ would seem to have a pretty big mountain to climb to become a habit for online social networkers.
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4. Open Windows This is more a minor annoyance than a real issue, but when is Google going to stop forcing a new window or tab to be opened with virtually every click of a mouse? Just because I'm in Gmail at the moment and click on Google+ doesn't mean I want a new window to open. Let me decide how I want to navigate pages. That's why God invented the right-click.
3. The Name Game It's been widely reported that Google+ recently kicked large numbers of people off of the network because of odd or suspicious names, accusing many of them of masquerading as a business. User names and monikers are so common on the Web, it seems antiquated to not allow people to use them, but if there is a real concern that the site will be populated by businesses, create fan pages like Facebook did and circumvent the problem.
2. Google Apps All Linked One of the biggest and most substantial issues, at least for me, facing Google is that your Google+ account is linked to every other Google app including Gmail. When you do want to delete your Google+ profile, as was explained to me by a friend who did it, you have two choices: 1) delete your Google+ profile and 2) delete your entire Google account. Also, when you do have multiple Gmail accounts -- many of us do -- trying to make sure you are in the right one and managing multiple logins is a pain.
1. I Don't Want Everyone Following Me Since I got on Google+ about six weeks ago, I've added lots of familiar faces and names to the list of people I follow and others have done the same with me, but there has also been an influx of people adding me who I don't know at all. Many of them appear to be people in social networking or technology and their streams, which I see if I look at the feed of everyone who is sharing with me, are filled with links to tech stories, many of which seem like subtle marketing efforts. One of my favorite things about Facebook is that it must be mutual to be friends. I shouldn't have to block every person who wants to follow me if I don't want them seeing my feed.