The Reasons Google+ Is Still a Ghost Town

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The Wall Street Journal has boiled down the failure of Google+ to make a dent in the social network dominance of Facebook, which we have noted for months to two simple stats: users spend about three minutes per month on Google+ compared to six to seven hours a month on Facebook. After all the hype and hope of being the next "It" social network, what happened?

The Internet wasn't ready for another social network. This theory comes from Brian Solis, an analyst at the social-media advisory firm Altimeter Group, who told Efrati, "Nobody wants another social network right now." Half of that sounds right. The Internet has proved that it could handle other social networks. Since Google+ has flopped, it has embraced both Path and Pinterest. But, what the net did not want is another Facebook. Google+ looked far too much like Facebook, which brings us to the second theory of what happened to G+. 

Google hasn't proven the point of Google+. "Google hasn't communicated what the value of Google+ is," continued Solis. In terms of added value, it doesn't have enough. Unlike Pinterest or Path, which put a spin on Facebook's definition of social network adding something different and interesting, Google+ took the same basic idea of connecting people, added hangouts and circles and called it a day. Originality draws users. 

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Google alienated people with its Internet domination plans. After the Google+ launch, Google got all sketchy, compromising its other beloved services by trying to promote the social network. Attempting to make it a natural part of a Google lifestyle, Google integrated the social network into search, for example. The new social search only surfaced Google+ results, leaving out other, more popular networks, like Facebook and Twitter. Considering those two sites have more value and users than Google+, this felt cheap. Plus, these personalized search results didn't even work that well

Google+ is not a ghost town. The Google+ diehards are still fighting for the social network's relevance. "PEOPLE. Stop comparing Facebook to Google+. And if this is a ghost town why does a new message show up on my street every 15 seconds?," writes Google+ mega-user Robert Scoble on Google+. "Oh, yeah, the mainstream media is threatened by Google+," he continues, bordering on paranoia. His argument is pretty murky, first saying it's not a ghost town. Then doubling back to argue ghost towns are where it's at, and then admitting not even his wife will join him on the site. Others have joined Scoble, with media guru Jeff Jarvis calling the claim "BS" and Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan saying "ghost town" takes it too far. 

The site isn't completely abandoned, and still has time to prove its worth. Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian told The Atlantic Wire he thinks Google+ has some merit, and that he uses it as a news source. As an Internet taste maker, maybe Ohanian is on to something the rest of the Internet doesn't get yet. But for now, the site hasn't done enough. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.