Not too long ago, I was sitting in a room full of social media geeks like me, listening to a panel of speakers serve up the typical social media geekery. One of the panelists uttered the words "Google+." The entire room erupted in snarky laughter. The snark was all over Twitter too.
We just can't seem to take Google seriously when it comes to social. And let's face it: Compelling reasons why abound. After all, Google+ is not the search giant's first foray into social networking
. And all of those other forays pretty much blew out like whoopee cushions. When it comes to social networking, Google is the company that cried wolf.
But are we shortchanging Google+? Is it possible that Google+ is the cunning beast, biding its time, waiting to pounce and devour other social networks while we all continue to point and laugh at its creator?
One report suggests it is.
GlobalWebIndex now ranks Google+ as the second most popular social network, with 343 million active users.
To be fair, there's a lot to like about Google+. Its attention to privacy is reassuring. Hangouts is a very handy and fun communication tool. "Communities" are also very fun to use, especially when you can decide just how open you want your community to be.
But here's where the snark — or rather, the healthy skepticism — comes back. Google+ is heavily integrated into other very popular Google services. As the ZDNet article linked above points out, just because someone signed up for the service, doesn't mean they actually use it.
Many predicted Google+'s numbers would soar as it intertwined more seamlessly into Google's product set. But is it all a front? Is Google+ still a ghost town fiercely supported by a company defensive about its past social failings? Or is it time we truly gave this social network a fair shake?