by Michael O'Neill
November 21st, 2012

It might be.  Why?  Because no-one goes there. Oh, people pass through.  Kind of like that old, steel-plated diner off the interstate that draws truckers, wary vacation travelers and the occasional weary salesman.  The all-day breakfast is okay, but it’s not a destination for dining and you might want to be sure you’ve got a roll of antacid tablets if you do pop in for a quick meal.

That’s kind of where Google+ is at these days.

Media Bistro recently published a post about social sharing that contained this nugget about Google+:

“And because Google isn’t exactly forthcoming with key data [on Google+], like actual usage statistics, or session length, it all feels a little duplicitous. Sneaky, even.  So what do we know? Back in February, independent data suggested that users spent just 3.3 minutes on Google+ in January, compared to 7.5 hours for Facebook.”

Ouch.

That may not, in fact, be time enough to order the greasy plate special.

Google+ has a registered user base of 170 million users.  I’m one of them.  In fact, I was one of those people who wanted to like Google+ and hoped it would succeed.  But I’ve stopped using it, except for the shameless practice of link baiting my blog posts there.  But otherwise, I’d never visit.

And I’m not alone.  I work with a lot of brands and I’ve not had a single client, prospect or marketing colleague ask about Google+ in more than 12 months.  It is a non-factor in social and digital marketing.  I get tons of inquiries about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other online video services, but nil about Google+.

Oh, there are Google+ diehards.  But there were diehards for other failed social networks as well (remember how many social media pundits swore up and down that FriendFeed was the network to bet on?).

Even Google seems to be tiring of Google+.  Google wants all of us to please stop calling Google+ a social network.  I’m not kidding.  Here’s a recent posting on Mashable:

“It’s not engagement or the lack of a clear way to monetize itself. It’s not those sometimes-unwieldy friend-organising circles, or even the perception that no one other than nerds uses the service. The problem, its creators believe, is that many people keep comparing it to Facebook — or, more broadly, social networks. While social interaction is a key part of Google+, the project is much more ambitious. Google+ is nothing short of a wholesale upgrade to all of Google‘s products and services, but with the identity of the user incorporated.”

Did you get that?  Google+ is an upgrade to Google Search, Gmail and every other Google product.  It’s not a social network.

To prove a point, I went to my Google+ account and asked a simple question to my meager 127 followers:

“Is there anyone out there?  I’m looking for Google+ users.  Why do you like it?  What is it about Google+ that has you coming back for more?”

The only reply was from a colleague.  He wrote:

“Me, a few tumbleweeds. It’s where I go to think, uninterrupted.  Fear of not having a chair when the music stops at Facebook.”

What do you think?  Are you on Google+?  Are you using it?  What do you think of this social network Google upgrade?

George F. Snell III is senior vice-president, digital & social communications, at Weber Shandwick Boston. This article first appeared on his blog High Talk

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