Why Google+ is losing the battle with Facebook: It’s simple

Facebook vs. Google+

If you’re using a Mac (and you probably are if you visit this website), one reason you do is probably because it’s simple to use and maintain. If you’re a designer in the advertising business you know that the simpler the ad, the better the results.

Simple is always better. Simple-to-use always beats feature-rich-but-complicated. If you believe that, then you know why Facebook is beating the digital pants off Google+ in the social media arena.

Facebook is a fairly simple service:

  1. You sign up
  2. You search for friends or companies you want to follow
  3. You click a “Like” button on their page
  4. You get a feed of everything they post (text and photos)

There’s very little thinking or learning-curve involved with using Facebook. Finding new friends is dead simple using Facebook, as is finding brands you wish to follow, and sharing photos and video. There is very little in the way of techy lingo used on the site, and outside of the privacy controls, the entire site is easy for even the most non-geek user to navigate and use. Now let’s look at Google+.

This past week, I had cause to re-visit my account on Google+, as well as help someone else set-up an account. Now I don’t consider myself a tech/social media genius, but I think I’m a fairly smart guy in tech matters. It’s rare that I feel completely stumped by a service or piece of software, but Google+ has me (and virtually everyone I talk to about it) completely confused and left wondering why and how anyone would use it.

After setting up your Google+ account, you’re immediately met with the first problem: trying to find friends or companies to follow. There simply aren’t a lot of “normal people” using it. This is a speed-bump on the Google+ highway that isn’t really Google’s fault. But the brick wall you run into as soon as you get on the road is. As soon as you find enough people and brands to follow on Google+, you have to place them in Circles.

Google+ makes you think, really hard, before you can use it. Even if you can figure out what a Circle is, how to use them, or even why you would want them, you’re then presented with the problem of deciding what Circles can see the posts you create. If you’re like many average consumers, you’re probably creating one Circle with everyone in it, then sharing everything publicly – because it’s easier.

Once you get past Circles – which I suspect many people never do – you’ll have a lot of lingo to learn. Hangouts and Ripples will be the first things you see that you have no clue about. What the hell is a “Ripple?” I still have no idea, nor do I wish to expend the energy to find out. How does one send a message to someone?

And if you can get past all the complexities presented with the use of Google+, you run into yet another brick wall. If you want to use Google+ on your smartphone, you’re stuck with Google’s official G+ app. There are no third-party apps like TweetBot, Twitterrific, or the dozens of popular Twitter clients available for Twitter, which helped popularize the Twitter service itself. And unlike Facebook, every app and service on the planet doesn’t integrate with Google+.

Google+ looks beautiful, and the layout of the site is actually simple. But using the service for the average person is anything but. And that’s why even with massive amounts of publicity from Google, and them pushing it on every Google product user, it will most likely remain a distant second to Facebook for average consumers considering the use of social media.