The Google+ Reality
CNBC Senior Stocks Commentator
The Wall Street Journal's piece today on G+, suggesting Google's stab at social media has created a ghost town, should have been no surprise to anybody who uses G+, Facebook and Twitter — as do I.
With 925,000 followers on G+, compared with a mere 25,200 on Twitter and 12,600 (and rapidly rising) on Facebook, I believe I'm in an unusually good position to have a first-hand look the TRUE reach and interaction on G+ .
It really boils down to this: For financial news and commentary, G+ does not resonate.
How do I know? Because when I post the same thing across all three platforms, items that can cause quite a stir and reaction on Facebook and Twitter, I get much less in the form of quality of comments on G+. (With many comments coming from all parts of the world, often they amount to little more than "nice!")
Given the number of followers I have (if you can believe this — I rank #62 in the world!) that leads me to believe that my true reach on G+ is relatively insignificant — at least to followers of financial news.
And that, it appears, is what the G+ loyalists want. (You have to understand: The G+ loyalists treat G+ like a club they don't want anybody else to join UNLESS they play by a certain set of rules.)
Consider this comment from tech blogger Robert Scoble, in a blog item last July:
"Google+ is for the passionate users of tech. If you just want to sit back and have the system do all the work (which means it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for most people) then Facebook is gonna be where you stay, especially since your friends are gonna lock you in for quite some time. But if you want to really be able to choose who you listen to, then Google+ is much better."
This is why engineers and techies love G+; everybody else is still trying to figure out why it's worth using — and even how to use it.
Today, I never use it for news dissemination, the way I do Twitter. Early in my G+ days, when I posted everything I did on G+, Scoble and others accosted me — saying G+ isn't for the Twitter-like posts. (As if I can't post what I want to post?!)
As a result, I pulled back on my G+ postings. Yet I found there was little duplication among my followers on G+, Twitter and Facebook. And many G+ followers told me they wanted to see everything I did.
But clearly — my kind of Twitter-like postings were not welcome on G+. The loyalists liked it the way it was; they wanted it to be a certain way...and damn everybody else.
Which gets us to where we are today: G+ may have tons of users, but for all but technology-related items the true reach (which is what advertisers ultimately want) appears to be negligible.
Does this mean I'll stop using G+ or use it less? To the contrary. I embraced it early because it's a legitimate and powerful form of communicating with (and building) viewers and readers. As long as they're using G+, so will I.
P.S.: One of the things Scoble and other loyalists cite among the things they love about G+ is the "hangout," which allows you to do a video conference with 10 friends. Unfortunately, like so much at Google, the hangout is still in beta. I tried one here at CNBC and it was nothing short of a technological disaster. The hangout may be a great idea, but it's definitely NOT ready for prime time. Sorry, Google: Way too clunky.
Questions? Comments? Write to HerbOnTheStreet@cnbc.com