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The Google + resistance

Google + initially hummed with the sound of social networking when it launched to much fanfare in July. That initial hum, however, has since grown quieter as mixed reviews question whether the platform has a place among social media giants.

In a recent Forbes article, media reporter Jeff Bercovici expressed his disappointment in the platform and its lack of growth. “It’s looking more and more like you’re [Google +] never going to be a viable alternative to Facebook,” he wrote.

Many PR pros have articulated a similar sentiment when it comes to using Google + to connect with journalists. Rina Shah, president and founder of political consulting firm Rilax Strategies LLC, said Google + has been nearly useless. For Tracy Bagatelle-Black, account manager at RLM PR, Facebook is still the best place for her to connect with reporters. “I have a few media contacts on LinkedIn as well, but Google + has been the least. Many reporters that I have looked up I couldn’t even find there,” she said.

But not everyone is pessimistic about the newest social media platform’s future. “As a professional in the PR field, I have not yet found Google + to be beneficial when it comes to connection with people as its userbase is simply not large or receptive to connecting with new people as other platforms, namely Twitter and LinkedIn,” said Marcus Taylor, social media executive with UK-based search engine marketing agency SEOptimise Limited. “However I do believe that over time as Google + and the Google + 1 button gain adoption and collect more user data, this trend will begin to change.”

Although Sara Gonzalez, a media relations specialist for San Diego’s Daum Weigle, has found little use for the platform, she too believes there is potential. “I think this platform needs more time. There are so many media platforms available to us that I got the general feeling that with the introduction of Google +, everyone just kind of went ‘another one?’” she said.

More time is exactly what Jason Falls, founder of Social Media Explorer, believes Google + needs to establish itself. “The benefits always outweigh the resistance eventually,” he said. “There’s always going to be resistance to change.”

While others claim to still favor Facebook, Falls said that he actually prefers Google + and believes it can serve as a great tool for PR folk. For instance, Google + is organized in a way that a user can put certain groups of people in a “circle.” PR pros can use this tool to share contacts and resources with a specific circle of journalists. “The technology becomes a supplement that actually helps you do your job better,” he said. The same can be said for journalists, who can better filter sources using the platform. But users won’t see a good use for Google + until friends and contacts are spending time on the platform, said Falls. At least for right now, Google + remains ad-free, offering a cleaner environment for early adopters, he said.

While Falls believes Google + will eventually catch on, he noted that it is hard for people to maintain more than a couple of social networks. “Generally, people maintain two and ignore one,” he said. “What Google + does is it gives us another option to consider and another channel to say which of the four major [Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google +] ones am I going to focus on – or am I going to focus on any or all of them. It’s challenging for business because they have to be able to read their audience and what platform they’re on.”

Ultimately, Google + is just another platform for people to connect, and it will be interesting to watch as social media lovers adopt it or deny it from entering the mainstream. Either way, another media tool has been born.

–Katrina M. Mendolera


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