The first of two problems preventing widespread adoption of Google Plus is the complete misunderstanding that Google Plus is actually a social network. Well it kind of is, but not in the way that Facebook is. And when you start to compare Google+ to Facebook, your comparing apples to oranges, and you’re going to lose in that comparison. As a closed network destination, Facebook has a lot more to offer than Google Plus. It’s easy to make the comparison because G+ has a way for users to post status updates and and a news stream to see what all their friends have posted. But that is not the true point of Google Plus. The true point, and biggest strength about Google Plus is that unlike Facebook, G+ is not a closed, self-contained system. G+ is not one location you go to. G+ is everywhere, all throughout the most popular sites around the internet. Unlike Facebook, you don’t have to go to a single destination to use it. Search Google and you’re using G+. Watch videos on YouTube and you’re using G+. Upload photos to Picasa and you’re using G+. Some have keenly described Google Plus as a “social layer” to the websites you’re already using. When you consider that Google Plus actually includes all of Google’s vast web empire, G+ is actually much larger than Facebook.
The other problem with Google+ is one that I haven’t seen anybody else write much about. It’s a problem that is easy for Google to fix instantly if they actually wanted to. The problem is their highly deceptive “suggestions” for people to connect to (add to their circles).
Everybody I know has at first mistakenly thought that those suggestions were people who were already on G+. I did this too. People see people they know as suggestions to their circles and don’t realize that those are all the people in their Gmail contacts list. They continue on to spam friends, family, and even business acquaintances who were not on Google Plus – never even heard of it before, and are then utterly confused. I for one will not connect to any new people on Google Plus anymore because I don’t want to spam my friends like that. And I’m definitely not alone. A lot of people I’ve spoken with about this are also refuse to add new people to their G+ circles anymore because they’ve been burned before by it. This may sound like a minor issue but Google needs more people to sign up for Google Plus and for those people to add other people to their circles. If everybody is afraid to add their friends and family to their circles then it completely kills the viral adoption of their service, draining the social aspect out of their social “network”.
If only Google would limit their circle suggestions to only contacts who were already on Google Plus, I (and others) would start using it again!