Some people who responded to the story here and by email accused me of flame-baiting (because of the "Is Google+ Down For The Count?" headline) or being too quick to judge, since Google+ only recently was made widely available to the public.
As for the former, a "Google+ Is Dead" headline would have been flame-baiting. "Is Google+ Down For The Count?" is more along the lines of provocative, in my opinion.
In terms of the latter, yes, Google+ is new and has only recently moved from invitation-only to wide public beta, but I don't think Google has the luxury of spinning Google+ out in such a meandering way--not when it is dragging its feet on key components such as business profiles, and not if Google wants to engage users already well-entrenched and -invested in Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
[Social media is a powerful tool to connect with customers, but it can create big problems for your company if it's not done right. Learn more at 10 Social Networking Don'ts.]
The "beta" model has worked for Google in the past, but mostly in situations where an alternative--or at least a good alternative--was not available. Case in point: When Gmail came along, its huge storage capacity and awesome search features looked great compared with the likes of, say, Hotmail. That's not the case with social networks. There are plenty of them out there, including a few gorillas that are well over 600 pounds at this point. I also think that the "beta" label has totally lost its original meaning. If a product or service is available, people will use it and assume a certain level of "done-ness." I think where Google has gone a bit off the tracks is in making an undercooked version of Google+ available in the first place.
For the record, I'm not writing Google+ off--literally or figuratively. I'm just asking the questions and seeking the insight of the people and organizations that actually do have the fate of Google+ in their hands in terms of whether they do--or don't--make use of the platform.
It's at times like these that writers say things like, "Only time will tell if Google+ can capture and keep critical mass." I'm just not sure if that kind of time is on Google's side.
Am I off-base? Wait, don't answer that, but do tell me whether and how you are using Google+. Please comment below, or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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