Aug 22 AT 1:42 PM Alberto Vildosola 26 Comments

Roughly two months after its release, Google+ has become a serious competitor in the social space. Google’s version of what a social network should be reached 25 million unique visitors in just over a month, making it the fastest growing social networking service ever. As far as social products made by Google go, Google+ certainly seems to be on the right track to success.

The service, even in its beta phase, shows a lot of potential. If Google+ was publicly released today, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone complaining about huge bugs or privacy leaks. That said, Google is taking it slow. They’re not in a rush. In fact, they have all the time in the world. They’d rather get Google+ right from the get go than face another Buzz-like privacy nightmare.

Meanwhile, the company has more than 25 million people going through Google+ every day, digging out every little bug and privacy leak they can find. These people can’t rightfully complain about Google+, because they freely decided to sign up for a service that’s still in field trial. It’s a win-win situation for Google, who will soon have a social network as polished and airtight as it gets.

However, most of those 25 million people are interested in technology, social media or both. They’re not what we call the average consumer. They’re the early adopters. The influencers. The ones who tell their friends and family which phone, email service, antivirus and computer they should use. And while 25 million users is still a pretty respectable number, even for Google, it’s not “average consumer” big. That’s more like 750 million (the number of users Facebook has).

Despite Google telling us otherwise, Google+ is aimed directly at the heart of rivals like Facebook and Twitter. Googlers might tell you Google+ is all about making Google better (which is true), but the real target here is reaching that 750 million unique visitors mark. In order to do that, Google+ needs to appeal to the average Joe–not just us tech-savvy people. Here’s how they’ll do just that.

Google+ everywhere you look is currently the most popular website in the world with more than 1 billion visits a day. As a result, everything you put on is going to catch a lot of eyeballs. Google has already used its search engine to promote other products. (Like when it launched the Nexus S, the Nexus One and Chrome OS). However, these “promotions” often consist of just a small sentence with a link underneath the Google search bar. Not really what you’d call eye-catching. What’s more, they only appear for a few days before Google pulls them out.

That won’t be the case with Google+, which will be heavily promoted on–probably forever. How will Google do that? They already showed us. The company will place a +You tab right next to the Search tab on the universal navigation bar. However, if you’re logged in with your Google Account, you’ll see your name instead.

I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing that catches my attention more than my name. In fact, the first time I visited Google after signing up for Google+ my eyes went directly to the +Alberto tab. It was like my brain noticed my name was somewhere on the page and told my eyes to look for it. And just like that, everyone with a Google Account will automatically sign up for Google+. People just won’t be able to resist clicking on a link that has their name on it. It’s as simple as that.

Then there are other Google products like Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Android and Chrome. All of them are powerful channels through which Google will push its social network. And all of them, except Chrome for now, require a Google Account to use them. And as I said, every person with a Google Account will eventually have a Google+ account. That’s hundreds of million of people.

Celebrity Hangouts

Celebrities on Google+. Yuck, I know. But hear me out for a second. People love celebrities. Whether it’s Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Oprah or Kobe Bryant. Most of us have a person that we’d love to “hangout” with. For us Android enthusiasts it might not be a Hollywood celebrity. But maybe you’d kill to be able to talk endlessly with Andy Rubin, Vic Gundotra or Steve Kondik about Android. You see? We all have celebrities.

However, most of us Android fans already use Google+ — celebrities or not. But that’s not the case with most people. For the average person to join Google+, there has to be a strong incentive for them to do so. And what’s a stronger incentive for a Bieber fan than the chance to talk face to face with their beloved idol?

It’s all a matter of convincing celebrities (paying them) to schedule Hangouts with their Google+ fans. As soon as word gets out that Bieber is Hanging out on Google+, Google’s servers will be put through their worst nightmare as millions of female tweens rush to sign up for Google+. Those tweens will then tell their friends and family to join Google+. And before you know it, the average adult person is signing up for Google+ because their little niece or daughter is now using it. Which brings us to…

The domino effect

Why do millions of people sign up for Facebook every month? Is it because they heard about it on TV? Maybe. Is it because of the addictive Flash games? Could be. Is it because they’ve heard great things about the service? Not likely. The main reason people sign up for Facebook is because somebody they’re interested in is already using it. Be it the hot girl they keep stalking, the daughter who never calls or those old friends they’d like to see again one day.

Initially, college kids signed up for Facebook because it was the easiest way to meet hot girls and guys and because most of them despised MySpace. Coming back to the “strong incentive” issue I mentioned, there’s no stronger incentive than sex. Naturally, “cool” teenagers signed up because the older college kids were using it. The rest of the teenagers followed the “cool” ones. The parents followed the kids, and now even grandma is on it because how else will she able to see photos of her grandson? That’s the domino effect for you.

Meanwhile, MySpace was abandoned overnight. Mainly because most people don’t have the time to manage two social networks. That’s why Facebook is so scared of Google+. If enough people sign up for Google+, the rest will follow. And Facebook could very well become the next MySpace.

Will the same domino effect happen with Google+? I truly think so. It’s probably already happening. In fact, I’d say Google+ feels very much like the early days of Facebook. The social network has a strong and loyal user base that won’t leave because they believe that the alternative (now Facebook, then MySpace) is deeply flawed. As a result, you have a small, but hugely influential group of people using a service, while the masses are using another. Which group do you think will win this tug of war?

Up next: Games, Google’s pace, and user-friendly strategy

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Alberto is a college student living somewhere between Miami, Sarasota and the World Wide Web. Although a former iPhone owner, Alberto is now a proud Android enthusiast. You can follow Alberto on Twitter and Google+ for his thoughts unworthy of an article.

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    I also think so.. But it will be with time.. Change is not something we as a species like doing.. PLus the newly released Sims on FB is AWESOME!! LOL

    • BiGMERF

      really i get negatives just for saying Sims is awesome on FB? why so sensitive, it is what it is..

    • BiGMERF

      I love g+…if i could merge both, I would. But like whine…G+ will get better and better with time/age

      • Geraldo


  • Mark

    Maybe it’s just me but I like, love and enjoy G+ the way it is. Please, keep the following people off G+ Lady Gag-gag, Justin Weiner and his army of rabid, teen fan-girls, Lil Wayne etc. I don’t need my social network to reach 750 – 900 million users for me to appreciate it.

  • Trey

    Until they start allowing profiles on Google Apps accounts my parents won’t be using Google+. They need a second email address like I need another hole in my head.

  • geophf

    I tried to open Google accounts for my grandparents so that they can sign up for G+. Apparently you need an existing email address to sign up for Google. This is their first email. They’ve never had one before. I don’t want to have to open a Yahoo account for them just to open a Google account. Since when did this start??

    • Rosjer

      It has always been so, they only need an existing one so they can send a reset link for retreavel of lost passwords and such, and that can be anyone they knows adress that they trust, like yours i.e. ;)

  • marc

    good read thanks for writing this up! i certainly hope a lot of people flock to google+

  • Derek

    I wish more people would sign up for Google +. I have hundreds of facebook friends and only 5 or 6 of them are on google +. I would love nothing more than to be able to ditch facebook permanently! Mark Zuckerberg is the biggest tool ever. What a colossal douchebag.

    • subrandom

      That’s kind of my problem, i have a lot of friends on Google + but many more on Facebook and they haven’t taken the leap yet. I’m not sure the majority of people need the features Google + offers yet. When they eventually integrate all of the Google services in then it’ll be great and people might make the trip.

      Google has said their aim is to open Facebook up, not create the best social network ever, but make a network that puts pressure on Facebook. Hopefully they can accomplish that goal and in the process just become a better network.

  • teecruz

    I Love Google+!
    & I think anybody in their right mind who complains about celebrities or anybody else, being the site should be hit by traffic.
    If you know anything about Social sites, you know Twitter is the preferred site for celebrities.
    it always will be, at least for now. (Backplane by GAGA & Schmidt might change that.)
    that is why I love twitter as well. never liked facebook.
    that is why when I heard of Google+ I came rushing. soon, people will too at their own pace.
    It’s for the better of the social site we’ve grown to love.

    Honestly, I say: if you’re First Generation G+ user, don’t complain. Be happy! You can call yourself such. Google+’s aim is only to grow. & in doing so, they’re gladly taking down Facebook for us. Thank God!

    Man, do I Love Google.

  • Mil

    However, those with Google Apps accounts still do not have access to Google+. Google are still not allowing a huge percentage of people to use their service. Most Google Apps users pay Google but they fail to get the same access as those who use their free service. Google really need to pull their finger out and make this happen.

  • Richard Yarrell

    Google plus is definitely a great place much different than facebook. I enjoy both so as the future moves forward people better get aboard the Google boat it’s definitely a great ride…

  • Futureboy

    My mom will use Google+ because my mom’s IT department (me) has decided that Mom, Inc. is migrating to G+.

  • Cwalden21

    Google+ will take over…especially after November 5th!! hahaha

  • Kevin

    I hope not because i hate having family creeping up on me over Social Networks. .

    • Shiran

      that is why you have circles and limit what they can see! Which is just pure genious. Its easier to do than in FB.

  • luiek20

    I’m ready just like I ditched my iPhone when the mytouch 3g was released cause I felt like this android OS seems new and fresh compared to my iPhone then bam! Android exploded and I was one of the lucky ones that could say I’ve been here since close to the beginning and all of you are now hopping on the android bandwagon. So just like we all praised our little cupcake filled device with love way before the eclair froyo or gingerbread was announced I’m gonna be the one to say I was on Google+ years b4 Facebook died. PS.sorry for the paragraph long run on sentence lol

  • Shiran

    I love Google+ but its not easier to use in some instances and can be hard to figure out at first. But what I love about it is that it iterates fast and fixes issues quickly. What I don’t like is there is no such thing as a wall like in facebook. It makes one on one conversation a little harder to figure out and also you can’t revisit something (like a comment) a couple of days later since it works on real time and that conversation is lost in the stream. At least on facebook you can see everyting you’ve done on your wall/. But im sure Google will fix this sometime and make it much much better

  • Sam G

    Don’t mean to be fussy but its more similar to the network effect, not the domino effect.

  • Charla

    You have the monopoly on useful inofmariton—aren’t monopolies illegal? ;)

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