Why yo momma won’t use Google+ (and why that thrills me to no end)

OK, I’ve been putting many hours into Google+. In just the few days that it’s been released I’ve followed 2,723 people, written many dozens of posts there, and have thoroughly used the product. I’ve also tried to get some normal users into the product, starting with my wife (we argued for 45 minutes about it) and I’ve come to some conclusions. Here’s the biggie:

Your mom won’t use Google+.

How can I state that so clearly? Easy. Most “average users” are locked into Facebook and aren’t willing to consider a new social tool until they hear about it from their friends. Since most of the people who are on Google+ so far are geeks, insiders, social media stars, journalists, and other people (Google admitted tonight they are only accepting people who have strong social graphs so that they can both make sure everyone has a good first experience as well as test out some of the technology before opening it up to a wider audience) the chances normal people (metaphorically speaking, your mom) won’t hear about Google+ from normal users for quite a while.

By then I’m sure Facebook will react (ie, copy) Google+’s best features (Facebook already has called a press conference for next week where they are going to announce something “awesome”). This will mean that normal users, who aren’t really going to get involved at this point in Google+’s life, won’t feel the need to switch.

So, what is Google+ for then?

It’s for us!

Come on now, we geeks and early adopters and social media gurus need a place to talk free of folks who think Justin Bieber is the second coming of Christ. That’s what we have in Google+ right now. Do we really want to mess that up?

Plus, let’s just be honest here. There are pieces of Google+ that are mighty geeky.

Let’s start with how to bold and italicize text. Do you have a pretty editing window like, say, exists on Quora? No way.

To bold text you surround that text with asterisks. *Like this* GEEKY ALERT! Italicize? Put underscores around the text. Strikeout? Put hyphens around it.

And that’s just the little thing. Let’s talk about the big thing. Circles. Now, heavy and passionate users of social media, like myself, really love things like lists and groups. Why? Because we want to spend hundreds of hours making sure our social graphs are really organized.

Normal people do NOT do this. They just want to friend their 20 real-life friends and 30 family folks and be done with it. Average/normal users want the system just to bring them fun stuff without doing any work.

See, if you put the average Silicon Valley geek in front of a TV and tell him to sit on the couch and watch TV for four hours they won’t know what to do. They will start building databases of their favorite shows, start figuring out how to optimize their DVRs so they can fast-forward through commercials faster, and stuff like that.

Normal/average users? They just want to watch TV and drink beer.

So, you getting where I’m going with this? Google+ is for the passionate users of tech. If you just want to sit back and have the system do all the work (which means it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for most people) then Facebook is gonna be where you stay, especially since your friends are gonna lock you in for quite some time. But if you want to really be able to choose who you listen to, then Google+ is much better.

Oh, and that’s not even considering the new “Hangout” videochat feature. Damn that thing is cool. You can have 10 people call into a room and it lets you all talk to each other. I haven’t used Skype since that shipped.

Anyway, it’s clear Google has turned a corner. They have now proven to everyone that they can do social and get on the playing field.

But they haven’t yet proven that they can convince your mom to use it and that’s just fine with me.

That all is a long way of saying that I really love Google+ and I don’t care what the average user thinks of it. I’m getting a ton of utility out of it and I am having a blast with it. Hope to see you there soon, but please leave yo momma over on Facebook, OK?

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

338 thoughts on “Why yo momma won’t use Google+ (and why that thrills me to no end)

  1. “….we geeks and early adopters and social media gurus need a place to talk
    free of folks who think Justin Bieber is the second coming of Christ”  THIS IS HILARIOUS!!!!!

  2. My early though is that Facebook will add (or steal if you prefer although looking at G+ its basic design is an obvious FB rip ) many of the features that make G+ attractive, and therefore make it irrelevant. Unlike Twitter, G+ and FB are more alike than they are different. If you add the asynchronous circle concept to FB, I would probably not ever use G+, and I am the “techiest” person I know (was on Gmail, Wave, Buzz, Docs, Reader, and Calendar beta). The video conference thing I would never use, photo sharing sucks compared to Facebook, +1′s is poorly implemented with no filtering, and the permissions model is more limited… With all that said, I am optimistic that they will add some “must have” features to make this service truly relevant, but just a tad bit.

  3. good take on “google+”.  i invited my “mom” to google+, and i think she’ll like it… only because she’s NOT already on FB though… time will tell.  now my Grandma on the other hand… ;-)

  4. To all the people who say that Facebook offers the same features as Google +, you are right, but Facebook hasn’t marketed it big enough like Google has. For example, Google pushes you to create circles and organize your contacts. It’s super simple and the interface makes it not boring. On Facebook, “Groups” are HORRID to use. The interface is horrible, and not that many people use Groups. Skype on Facebook will be big, but Hangouts are even better because you can talk to ALL of your family at once. That was a dealbreaker for me, because my cousins live 6 hours away from me, I can’t see them everyday, but I want to be a part of their lives. G+ just makes more sense to use

  5. It’s ironic that early adopters of Google Plus are trying to get away from their moms, outsiders, non-techie types, but in a few years we will BE one of those types that we are trying so hard to get away from . . . 

  6. I am sure with time, our parents, spouses, and other non-techie, outsiders, non-social savvy types will get on Google+ and it will become like FB in that respect. They won’t be content to be on FB when the rest of us are on Google+.  Just with due time . . . so in a sense we are doomed to have to deal with their inane postings on Google+ just as FB is doomed to become the next has-been Myspace/Friendster, etc.

    Then along will come another social network, and everyone will leave Google+ to go to that new network to try to escape their moms, outsiders, the general public, etc. and it will start all over again . . .

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