Is it Still a Party if the DJ is Dead?

November 10, 2011

It had all the potential to be rad – the secret roll-out invites, the mystery door prizes, the super popular host, the lure of a seriously awesome band. Billed as a game-changer, the launch of Google+ was the metephorical equivilent of Lindsay Lohan’s 18th birthday party for the social media world. You weren’t sure what to expect- but you were pretty sure that it was going to be fucking epic.

With enough tweets, buzz and build-up to give the “Fail Whale” days of screentime, the launch of Google+ was really theirs to fuck up. So how exactly do you blow the most anticipated launch of the year backed by a theoretically cool product and hosted by one of the most recognizable names in technology?

Good question.

I think of the Google+ launch like those open bar parties you’re lured in to while vacationing in Cabo. At first the crowd seems cool, the drinks are flowing, theoretically everyone is having a good time, but then all of a sudden the mood changes. The lights flick on, someone kills the music and you realize that you’re stuck in yet another timeshare presentation.

Granted, my slightly sarcastic and overly dramatic viewpoint of things is generated by the fact that I am a true Facebook baby. The “original” social network launched while I was in my prime technology adoption years and we’ve “grown up” together so to speak. I think of Facebook as a fond, slightly stalkerish friend that I talk to frequently but love to deny I know. We’ve been through ups and downs together – through relationship status changes, lost “friendships”, inappropriate tagged pictures and a sea of wall posts. On countless slow Friday – I mean – Saturday afternoons (I’m working tirelessly on Friday afternoons Howie, I promise) Facebook has entertained me with tidbits of detail about people– things that I didn’t know I was interested in until I found myself clicking on the profile of that one chick in my science class from Freshman year. Do I really give a shit what Suzie is studying in grad school? Is it THAT fascinating the Bob and Betty broke up for the 15th time and have finally settled on an obvious “it’s complicated” status? Hell no. What is important is that Suzie, Bob, Betty and everyone else you know is there. They’ve bought in. Given their most intimate details to a site that blasts them to the entire world- in essence whispered their secrets to the Judas of all technology. And they’re cool with it. Let’s be real – we’re all cool with it. We’re gaining attention these days for things that never would have elicited a response before. We are the anti-privacy era. I will literally share what I ate for dinner on any given night if I think it’ll bring forth a frenzy of “likes”. Which brings me to another question – if the entire world is so into sharing every detail of their lives on any possible platform, why aren’t we sharing on Google+?

While attending the BlogWorld and Social Media Expo this past weekend (basically like one long college lecture but Facebooking, Tweeting and in general making things sound cooler than they actually were was highly encouraged) a lot of the talk circled back to Google+ and their shaky future. There were confliciting opinions, but one quote stood out above the rest:

“Google+ is to Facebook what Macintosh is to Windows.” – Guy Kawasaki

I’ve heard this Kawasaki character is one pretty smart dude, which led me to seriously ponder his statement over the last few days. Is Google+ the indie darling to the mass-adopted Facebook? Are all the cool kids “going Google” and I haven’t yet been clued in to the latest trend? Somewhere in the vast expanse of the Internet are there hip creative types posting their innermost thoughts to their “circles”? This remains to be seen, however it does lead one to wonder what the next Google+ step will be. With their newly released “business pages” (a very Facebook-esque space where companies can mingle with the few early-adopters of the Google platform) it seems that Google has moved from their user-recruitment phase to the much more lucrative business angle.

No doubt social media managers in offices around the globe scurried to get their own pages up yesterday after the announcement – eager to be one of the first brands represented (I can hate on the social media crew –I’m one of them) but what’s the point of building and maintaining yet another social media space if there aren’t any users to engage?

In my opinion Google+ has all the right elements to create a big disruption in the Facebook-centric world of social media, they just haven’t yet figured out how to keep the metaphorical music up. Back to party-speak, they’re throwing a seriously epic celebration but someone has shot the DJ. A media rave that started out with bumping beats and dubstep (it’s cool now, I’ve heard) has been silenced to the whisper of a few advocates. The Google Kool-Aid bowl is drying up, leaving even the most proactive of users wondering what’s next for the “jolly G giant”. They have the crowd, the name, the location and a rapt audience, but is it still a party if the DJ is dead?

-Ashley

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