Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are seemingly similar social networks. You share updates, links, and photos with people you know in some capacity. You follow their updates. You like stuff and reply to various things that you see posted there.
In practice however, I’ve found the three communities to be quite different.
Facebook is family and friends, and people I used to know in a previous chapter of my life. A few industry contacts make the cut, but it’s mostly friends and acquaintances, past and present. Oh, and brands I like. My Facebook feed, like most people’s, is full of junk and stuff I rarely care about.
Twitter is primarily about industry contacts, interesting people, celebrities, etc. My Twitter feed is teaming with interesting but random thoughts, links, and pictures.
Google+ centers around tech people in my industry. At least at this stage, and for how I use it. Some might consider it a tech ghetto comprised of early adopters at this point, but I must say the stream it produces for me it’s extremely interesting. All sort of quality links, tech news, and insightful commentary.
Given the nature of these three social networks, I would expect myself to favor Google+. Instead, I find myself using it far less than the other two and even forgetting about it at times.
The reason is very simple.
I don’t spend much of my time checking Facebook and Twitter, but I will double check on how my updates on these sites are doing. When people like/fave, share/retweet, reply/comment, I usually get email notifications about them as well, which means I’m more likely to return to said sites and engage further.
The real issue is that I post on Google+ much less than I do on Facebook and Twitter, despite predominantly posting about tech topics, where, interestingly, Google+ would be a natural fit.
I post less because Google made one of the most stupid choices I’ve ever seen made in the tech industry: they did not provide a full write API for their service. So it’s not integrated with anything else out there.
When I use tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, TweetDeck and the like, Google+ is not an available option. It’s seamless to post the same link to Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn with a single click in my browser, feed reader, or a random application on my iPad and iPhone.
With Google+, in most cases, I have to go out of my way to copy the URL. Go to the site. Log in to Google if I wasn’t. “Wait, I have 2-step authentication, so let me grab the generated code first”. And so on. Even in the smoothest of workflows, this lack of integration creates an unnecessary friction I don’t have with other social networks.
As a result, I post fewer things on Google+, and consequently read, comment, and +1 a whole lot less on it, too. Google+ becomes something that exists out there in the vastness of the web, and which, occasionally, I remember and devote a little time to.
Yet, they have failed spectacularly to capture a great portion of users on the basis of not providing a proper write API functionality. It’s a huge tactical mistake, and one that, if you ask me, they should correct soon if they’re to stand a chance against social giants like Facebook and Twitter.
Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and Technical Evangelist at IBM. He authored 'Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers' by Wrox (2009) and 'Technical Blogging' by The Pragmatic Bookshelf (2012). You can follow him on Twitter.