The latest issue of Wired contains an essay arguing that social media isn't social. Oddly, the piece inadvertently nails why I'm skeptical about Google Plus:
The best evidence that social media isn't really about personal connection? Marketers love it. It seems like every business from taco trucks to GE is hoping to use social media to put a personal face on its brand.
Sure, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr are marketing havens now. But none of them started off that way. There was, in fact, real skepticism as to what a brand would do on Twitter for its first few years.
Those services took off precisely as places where interactions were personal, and it was only later, after enough people congregated there and began having conversations and interactions, that brands jumped in. It's the same story of blogging, and the Web itself.
It wasn't until late 2008 that brands were really began to get on board on Twitter, after it had been around for more than two years. Likewise, Facebook ignored and shunned brands in its early years. First, there were conversations, which caused brands to begin listening.
By contrast, Google+ has been a brand magnet from the beginning, which makes me deeply skeptical of it.
The social media services that work best—Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare— are often non-obvious to marketers (be they corporate or personal brand builders) when they launch. Anything that's really game-changing (see also: blogs) is typically so unfamiliar that it's met with corporate and media skepticism if not derision. But in today's more social-media savvy environment, brands hit the ground running on Google Plus. (Especially the media.) They jumped ahead of the conversation.
Despite Google's prohibitions, brand after brand has been creating Google+ profiles—often only to see Google pull them. And with Google being slow to allow corporate accounts, brands have sought other ways to fill the vid. This has led to some hilarious results, like poor Michael Dell wasting his time in a Google+ Hangout, trying to connect with customers.
My boss, Joe Brown, calls Google+ "Work Facebook." (Nevermind that LinkedIn is also Work Facebook.) Google+ feels like work, because everyone is trying so damn hard to work it. It is a deep, dark hole of self-promotion. And that makes it boring.