Three psychological reasons why Google Plus is not working as well as it could

Google is full of engineers – computer geeks, code-writers and mathematicians all live happily inside the Google buildings around the world. To them, some of the aspects of using Google that we find complex, they think are really easy. I sometimes wonder if they think people around the world are really quite dumb. After all, who in their right mind would fail to use the advanced search tools within Google and the “Boolean” language it contains to perform a simple search? For the Google geeks, boolean searching is second-nature – but for my mum it’s  a case of “booly who?”.

Google Plus is less successfulA month ago the engineers at Google released it’s latest social network system Google Plus. Prior to this, the social system was open only to invited guests. But clearly Google thought it was ready for the world and so they let us all in on the secret. And boy, oh boy, did we respond…! Google Plus became the fastest growing social service online ever, period. The growth curve went almost straight up. But according to new research from Chitika, the usage of Google Plus has plummeted faster than it grew. We went, we saw, we departed, it seems.

Obviously, some of the rise is just curiosity; inevitably there would be some downfall. But the numbers of people now using Google Plus is lower than before they went public, according to this new study.

Lack of novelty
One of the principal psychological drivers we focus on is novelty. If something is new, we are interested. But we only maintain our interest if it truly is new. Humans are primed to seek out novelty; it is what kept us alive when we were hunter-gatherers. New food was the freshest food and the healthiest, least likely to poison us. So our brains developed the desire to seek out new things. When they are not as new, we get bored. Google Plus is not new – it offers almost the same as Facebook and Twitter, with only a little twist, such as “hangouts”.

Lack of simplicity
Human beings also need to operate their brains at the simplest level. It is a survival mechanism because our brains actually consume a major slice of our daily calorie intake. To preserve calories for the rest of our body, our brains are geared to finding the simplest solution to things. Google Plus is not simple. It is built by engineers for engineers, it seems. You almost need a PhD to truly work out how to use hangouts. Is it any wonder that the bulk of users of Google Plus are young men in the technology sector?

Lack of focus
Human beings like to know what ONE thing they can achieve with something. A car gets us from A to B. A plane takes us on long distances easily. Amazon gets us the books we want. Google Plus? Well it kind of does some of the things that Facebook does, but also the things that Twitter does, with a smattering of Skype as well. In other words, we do not really know the ONE thing which Google Plus provides.

The result is that Google Plus appears a hotchpotch of things, only serving to confuse us. It is neither new, nor simple, nor focused. Result? People walk away.

And that would not be a first for Google in the social networking arena. Most people walked away from Google Buzz and Google Wave – two previous social ideas from Google. And what was their problem? You guessed it, lack of simplicity, lack of novelty and lack of focus. You would think for a company full of highly intelligent people, Google would have worked that out. Or is it too simple and straightforward for geeky engineers?

For another five reasons why Google Plus isn’t getting much recommendation see the excellent blog post “5 reasons why I don’t recommend Google+” from Mark Lee.

Three psychological reasons why Google Plus is not working as well as it could 1

2 thoughts on “Three psychological reasons why Google Plus is not working as well as it could”

  1. Thank heavens for that Graham – I thought it was me – I just can't be bothered to get into it and I have millions of people I don't know putting me in circles.

    It lacks the compulsion of facebook twitter and of course our old mate eek

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