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article imageOp-Ed: How can Google+ make it if management isn't engaged?

By Leigh Goessl     Oct 17, 2011 in Internet
For a long time now Google has been desperately trying to break into the social market and gain a competitive standing. Over the past several months Google has put a lot of stock in its new brainchild, Google+.
With Google+ it seemed the company was banking on the old 'third time is the charm' philosophy. Once the network was unveiled back in June, it caught a lot of interest and quickly gained 20 million members within three weeks.
Since the summer the fanfare has died down a bit, however in mid-September the technology giant opened up membership to all, meaning users no longer had to wait for an invite to get in on the Google+ action.
Reportedly Google+ now has 40 million members, but the actual activity on the network is rumored to have declined; Google declined to comment.
Just a few days ago a Google employee submitted a long detailed post intended for internal eyes to Google on Google+. Unfortunately the post was accidentally made public for all to see. The employee subsequently posted an apology and deleted his post. However the post can still be viewed, with permission of its author, in another Google+ member's post.
Many interesting statements and evaluations made in this post. While many comments were vibrant in nature, these two stood out:
“Google+ is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership (hi Larry, Sergey, Eric, Vic, howdy howdy) down to the very lowest leaf workers (hey yo). We all don't get it."
"The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought.”
Overall it seems perhaps management appears to be not engaged enough with their new brainchild.
Michael Degusta, theunderstatement.com, posted an article on Oct. 4 with graphics that outlined how Google management barely even uses Google+. According to Degusta, CEO Larry Page hadn't been posting much in the network since its launch. Through August, the CEO only made seven posts (although by the looks of Page's Google+ profile, he's stepped it up somewhat in recent weeks showing some activity).
Degusta points out, "Turns out that’s still 7 more posts than Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has ever made," adding, "apparently [Schmidt] couldn’t find time to even join Google+. He’s nowhere to be found in the search results, and one can only assume he’s using his real name."
Google+ has a strong policy that users must use their real names to use the network.
Perhaps at the time of Degusta's statement Schmidt didn't have an account, but he's got one now, having posted on Oct. 12.
Reportedly only a handful of Google's management team even joined the network, and the ones that did, only use it sparingly. This is interesting because with the big push and media coverage Google+ initially received, it would seem the management would be actively standing behind the product, and using it in order to promote. After all, even Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly on his network, all the time.
The question begs asking, if Google management doesn't appear interested in a product, how does this give users a reason to believe Google+ is a viable and worthwhile product?
While Steve Yegge's rant was definitely not intended for public viewing, perhaps good will come of this and his sentiments will ignite some positive movement. If Google+ wants to make it in the social market, a lot of strategizing needs doing, and if management actually engages and uses the product, they'll likely get a much clearer vision of what it is users want. Although using Google+ would be just a start.
As Yegge points out, Facebook 'gets' it, and if Google+ is to compete against Facebook, Google management will need to 'get it' too. In the social media market, its no longer about simply developing a good product, its definitely a larger scope. Facebook is actively becoming Internet Infrastructure, revolutionizing how people use the web.
Phil Haigh said in response to Yegge's sentiments on Google+, "I understand this was an accidental share but kudos for even writing it for internal sharing - I hope it isn't your Jerry Maguire moment. This post should be engraved onto big brass plates and erected in the boardroom of every company big enough to have a boardroom."
Chances are many others may feel the same.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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