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. Soo much of this post is very true! You have to be a thought leader, social media advocate or a really big tech head to have a desire for Google +. As an Internet Marketing graduate from Full Sail, I have totally come to realize that one of the keys to social media is being able to have this passion to check everything hot and new out before it becomes “hot and new” to the average users, who will be more likely to follow their friends instead of following “the leaders” as we trailblaze. 

  2. *cough* as someone who’s children are probably close to your age, I don’t know if I should feel horrified by your presumptions or honored that I’m a geeky old chick…suffice it to say that, while I will agree that not all Mommas will be video chatting via Google+, not all thirty and forty somethings will be either. I am constantly amazed how many “younger” people have absolutely no idea as to the power of social media. This is not a generational issue so much as it is a passion issue. I know WAY more about social media than my college educated, professional children. And, while the jury is still out, I am loving Google+ so far ;-)

  3. You’ve highlighted a feature of all social media, actually, that it is always about the devs picking their friends to be in the beta test, people who are likeminded with them, and leaving everyone else out. It’s not a really authentic test, because they don’t take the first sign-ups or random sign-ups, but let people in on the principle of their own personal social graph, doling out invitations to each one, then saying they can invite 6 of their own friends, etc. And that’s why these platforms always feel too wonky and claustrophobic, they are run by geeks and packed by geeks who then don’t like mass culture and don’t like ease of use because they want to keep the club to themselves. It’s funny to see you admit frankly that you’d just as soon have a small club of geeks to talk to, Scoble, how could a project like this ever succeed unless it’s for everybody?!

  4. The cool new things facebook unveiled is basically the same thing as the hangout… XD

  5. Hey, really cool page, but I am missing the +1 button to rate your article ;)

    btw invite me too to Google+

  6. Hey, really cool page, but I am missing the +1 button to rate your article ;)

    btw invite me too to Google+

  7. right now Facebook at least lets you keep your personal info private… Google has no intention of allowing that to happen…

  8. right now Facebook at least lets you keep your personal info private… Google has no intention of allowing that to happen…

  9. the thing that i still don’t get is.. why the all out push for no privacy anymore? i’m sure i’m not the only person on the planet who loves tech, but has very real reasons not to use a real name…

  10. Anybody care to sent an invite to ralph dot kazemier at gmail dot com? Thanks a bunch if you do…

  11. hahaha SO true!! lol If told I HAD to sit in front of the TV for 4 straight hours and I had to do so using a conventional broadcast, I’d easily start building databases of the broadcast and syncing it up to Google Calendar.

  12. I totally agree with you and I was doing wrong! :PI love the d-n-d clip thing they do when you select more contacts at once…
    I love when you onmouseovering through your albums and see your photos faning out…
    I love how it is smooth…
    I love being such a Google fan boy!

  13. This is one of my favorite posts on Google+. I’ve spent the last hour reading technical reviews of what it will do and not do and yours hits in the most important one for me. I love technology and the social aspect of sharing relevant information sprinkled with some personal candy. I hope that you are right – but I don’t see how google can be successful only populated by such a small group as us. Too bad.

  14. The Topic at hand is Mom’s adopting  Google+… I help “ordinary” mom adap a and adopt  technology and they are actually  very good at separating their contacts and keeping “list” they’re also  way ahead of most on who gets what info…  it’s been the problem with  Facebook… Too public… I can’t let the “ladies at  work see this side of me”… it’s their number one complaint, why they do not use FB… so they use it for friends or for business not for both!  Frankly the only thing Keeping moms from this is the Invite system!

    Most techies have no  INTERACTION whatsoever outside their moms or family (and even withing that group many  do not  interact via technology)   with “normals” they design  for themselves or early adoptor then wonder why the products do not get  “adopted”

  15. You calling me a geek bro? Seriously though. I believe G+ can snatch 1/2 of FB’s market in 3 years. At it’ll be better because it would be, as this article pointed out, without your mom and the Beiber drones. Geekier, more intelligent, grown up conversations, clever comedic posts. I think I’d like that a lot more.

    Now just fix my picasa tags/faces and we’ll be okay…

    1. In a few years, the non-geek, non-techies will be on Google+ just like they are on FB right now.  We’ll never to able to escape them.  Even worse, in a few decades most of us will BE one of them.

  16. Of course the folks at Google “haven’t yet proven that they can convince your mom to use it” – It’s three days old!!! I don’t yet feel the need to throw predictions of Google+’s (or Facebook’s) future. I’m just enjoying the ride so far…

  17. Google + isn’t geeky at all. If you think formatting text is geeky, then 90% of computer users are elite hacker types. Dude, watch me increase the font size and center it in Microsoft Word. BAM! I heard about this dude from Finland who figured out how to add images! he’s like a super genius!

  18.  I think we are looking for the wrong social network to replace. Google+ has more things in common with Twitter than facebook, and I’m pretty sure twitter has decrease the usage in the last couple of days.
     The big (huge?) difference between facebook and twitter/google+ it’s the fact that on facebook you need to allow another person to read you, on twitter, anyone can add you. For example, I know personally, almost everyone on my facebook account, and I speak with at least half of them, once a week. out of my followers on twitter, I may know 10%, and that goes down to 5% of the people I’m following. I know none one of the people in my circles in google + (and I’m not in any circle so far)
     If you think about it, you’ll see google+ won’t take users from facebook, but mostly from twitter, I didn’t play a lot will google plus, but so far, I didn’t find groups, or pages (and I’m not going to talk about games).
     These are my two cents, I agree google + is just for geeks right now (I couldn’t convide neither my wife, sister or brother to even look at google +), but I think google + it’s going to hurt more twitter than facebook, at least in the short term

    1. not able to convince your family?? awesome! that would mean you probably still have some of the invitations left! could you please send me one, at nikhilwalia87atgmaildotcom?

  19. I am Mohammad Jobaed Adnan. I am not from Google+ R&D
    team and I never was. But I used to handle local brands in ad agency and now
    work for web development. I have a great love for latest technology which makes
    me tech savvy.

    Here I am sharing some of my thoughts. You do not have to
    agree with me but I do believe this is the right time for thinking about
    tomorrow’s social network.

    I think Google has much better chance than the Facebook. In
    our hearts, the word “Google” is always top of the mind because – in every
    aspect of our life we need Google more than we need Facebook:

    For searching – we need Google

    For mailing – we need Google

    And many of other web services  (YouTube, Picasa, News, Maps, and Shopping
    etc.) – we need Google too.

    Again Google came a very long time ago than the Facebook and
    this is another vital issue that the word “google” is inside our hearts.

    I did not get the invitation from Google+ yet but I heard
    all rumors and read the articles here and there on the web.

    I know brand communication always believes in a thought of
    being 360 degree. Why not making Google+ a 360 degree medium for next
    generation social network:

    Right now in Social websites one important part
    is sharing thoughts/things. The either way we call it sharing a “status”. Now
    we can share various things (via uploading or sharing links) like text, images,
    video, and audio. And we can set an option called “like/dislike”. In real life
    do we only share our emotion through only “like” and “dislike”? Of course we do
    not. We can smile, we can cry, we can do many other things. So why not adding
    such “emotion” inside social sharing?

    We can also add “audio and video comments”
    directly from our phone or via microphone rather than only uploading from web
    links/computer. Uploading kills time and real time audio/video posting means
    real time talking.

    These days many of us (corporates/individuals)
    do create Fan Page/Group. Google+ should add a real time “live video/audio”
    streaming feature so that users can easily stream their live events from their
    phone/laptop/web cam to their audience.

    Say you are a hair salon service provider, now
    you can show what is happing inside your salon to your customer. So that
    customer can see if you are free or not.

    Another thing, someone posted a video/test
    status about something. But you do not agree with it. You can then send a hand
    drawn idea and post it directly without being a “photoshop guy” or having a
    scanner. You can do it with your mobile camera or web cam with live capturing

    Poke with animated cartoon is more emotional.

    Adding “sponsored status” can even help users to
    earn money. Sharing your status with a sponsored label/graphics which can draw
    attention to public. This will add a new way to implement google ad sense. Who
    hates earning money? So more people will come and earn…

    Well, it is already enough talk. Time will say what will be
    inside the Google+. We will wait to see fall/rise of Google’s initiative
    Google+. Best of luck.

    1. There are alternatives to Google for searching, organizing, mailing, etc. I use Google but I also use its competitors services too. Google doesn’t have a monopoly on the Internet . . . yet.

  20. Yes, I much like your idea, and I’ve seen that in Twitter as well in the beginning, which got cluttered by ‘normal’ people later on.
    And, importantly, without these ‘normal’, I don’t think Google+ has stamina to hold more than a year!

    1. Actually, you don’t I’ve gotten people with yahoo.com emails to sign up, and it uses their yahoo address.

  21. My momma doesn’t use Facebook for some of the reasons you mentioned (Bieber fever, Cityville galore and other random stuff you find on your noisy news feed). However, she’s already using Google+ with me and we actually post a lot more than we normally would have on Facebook. When you restrict posts on Facebook, it feels like you’re hiding something. The same process feels much more natural and intuitive on Google+.

  22. I’m very happy to be organizing my thousands of contacts in Google + with out Bieber fans around, but I can’t help but wonder if some one wrote something similar to this about Facebook and Myspace years ago.

  23. I really hope that Google+ will not go the way of the Wave, when everyone wanted to join and there was a lot of hype around it, google kept it closed. Then they opened Wave to everyone, but hype was gone, people forgot what that Wave was about and it just died. So I hope Google will not keep G+ closed for very long or people will just forget why they wanted to join the first place (while all these articles on Reuters, CNN and BBC are still fresh).
    Google should allow people to pre-register, may be fill-in their profile and then ask them to wait a bit.

  24. If they don’t have it, they should figure out a way to import Facebook Friends and other data. Then maybe Momma would try it. Meanwhile, I await my G+ invite. Guess my social graph isn’t awesome enough.

  25. That’s kinda an odd post. So much enthusiam for a product Scoble likes….did he not get that he actually just explained that it will fail for pretty much the same reason Wave and Buzz did? 

  26. I’m a 51-year-old momma and I’ve been on G+ since Tuesday, you sexist, ageist whippersnapper.

      1. Some day, if you are lucky and don’t die young, you, too, holy_crap_this_is_boring will become an old person.  

  27. A few things…

    1. I think Google+ is awesome.

    2. Facebook people have been compiling their hundreds, thousands of aquaintances, fake friends and real friends for years now. People are not going to want to just get up and leave it all to start new someplace unfamiliar and strange.

    3. Most people are not techy or computer saavy. They turn it on, check their email, check their facebook and thats it. Some dont bother with the computer and just do this from their phone. I know a few people who know even own a traditional computer.

    This is going to take some time before the average Joe is on G+ yukking it up. Thats fine with me, most people from high school are lame and id prefer they stay on FB for a long while. Im all about the now and whats ahead of me, G+ is all that.

    1. Not so. Soon, all those lame friends from high school are going to go onto Google+ just like they went onto Facebook. It is just a matter of time . . .

  28. Yo momma won’t *walk*, either. Standing up outta the grass and walking and exposing yourself is for geeks. The average person lies crawls in the dirt and burps and farts.

    Geeks tend to be elitist.

  29. My mother started a software company before you kids were born.  Please stop with the sexist & agist language, and implication.  If you want to say “non-technical people” do not say “your mother,” say “non-technical people.”  

    For Google+, between video chat and the ease of organizing who will see what, I expect it to have some traction with my friends and family.  For now, my circle is about 40% female (and of those, about 50% are moms).

  30. G+ plus is just nostalgia for the web-geeks that looks back to the days when Facebook was young and there still was some innovation and creativity on the web. I dont know – the web is increasingly  owned and controlled by Google and they are sucking all the air out of it.

    I have removed myself from Google as much as possible the last years and now people are giving Google my email-adress to send out invitations. I am not amused.

    What would make me jump would be a private, secure and ad-free Facebook (G+ seems just the opposite). As much P2P as possible. Maybe I should build it :-)

  31. G+ plus is just nostalgia for the web-geeks that looks back to the days when Facebook was young and there still was some innovation and creativity on the web. I dont know – the web is increasingly  owned and controlled by Google and they are sucking all the air out of it.

    I have removed myself from Google as much as possible the last years and now people are giving Google my email-adress to send out invitations. I am not amused.

    What would make me jump would be a private, secure and ad-free Facebook (G+ seems just the opposite). As much P2P as possible. Maybe I should build it :-)

  32. alot of Second Market investors are feeling a little queazy
    after this week.. I love it.. 

  33. My mom just discovered/started using Facebook so I’m not expecting her to really like Google+. Maybe in 5 years time. lol

    However, I’m disappointed that I don’t have and invite because of my social graph? What the hell is social graph??

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