Friday, August 12, 2011

Come Join the Google Plus Party, or Not

I have been participating in Google Plus for several weeks now and find it to be quite compelling in terms of user interface, content and overall experience. I have met a number of interesting new people like Sarah Hill from KOMU TV in Missouri. I've also connected with family, friends and business associates, and even crossed paths with the likes of Michael Dell, Jason Pollock (Director) and Dave Girouard (Google). Yes, Paris Hilton is here too, but I didn't put her in any of my circles.

This new social network site took off reaching 25 million participants in record time. The "invitation only" method of accepting people used in the past with GMail and Google Voice worked once again to create an aura of exclusivity and drove demand, albeit at a controlled pace. The early rush prompted many to forecast Google Plus would reach astronomical proportions in no time and crush all other social networks. Of course, in my view  this pure hyperbole and I expressed a more reasonable and rational view in an earlier column..

Now I am reading a few articles like this one reporting on the poor take-up of  special new invitations all of us early participants were recently granted. Google posted a custom link which entitles all current subscribers  (including me) to offer up to up to 150 of our friends and neighbors an invitation to join. So, I decided to run my own test and see how many people take advantage of my stash. Here is my button:

You Can Join Google Plus by Clicking Here

Let's assume 20% of the 25 million will take the time to extend their 150 invitations to their network. Typically you would see a 2% to 3% response. Based on these assumptions the program would add about 22 million new subscribers. Do the math. Once those invitations are exercised this model suggests the number of subscribers would nearly double.

But I have a theory that suggests there are enough natural connections among the groups of people who were early adopters to make this approach ineffective. This campaign is like handing out free show tickets to the crowd of people who are already in the theater.

New growth will come, of course, when Google Plus allows business participation, promised to be here soon. But to attract more individuals Google will have to more broadly publicize the availability of new invites, or decide the time is right to simply open the floodgates and allow anyone who wants to join to sign up ... using their real name, of course.

Will any of my loyal readers click on the link above? I'll report back on the numbers  in a few weeks.

Captain Joe

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