Beta Lambs Knew Not: The Case Against the Early Adopters

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of testing stuff out for nuthin’.  I no longer wish to serve as just another unpaid and unknown member of some broadly-selected focus group for another internet giant that has more power than God (or Steve Jobs), but which said internet giant will not even offer me so much as a free sample of travel-sized toothpaste in return for my, not insignificant, time investment using and (probably more importantly) promoting its latest stab at conquering the public consciousness.

Despite the untold number of tweets I have regenerated respecting Google+ (hey, people are interested–why do you think I’m writing about Google+ right now), I have not completed my profile.  Neither am I in any rush to do so.  Neither have I sent out more than three invitations to the platform (though I have 8+).  Neither have I promoted myself as someone with invites to send out, like I’m some kind of online crack dealer.  And, neither should you.  (Besides, I don’t want Google knowing any more about me than they already do.  They’re already reading my emails and my shared documents, and they know when I have appointments and where.  This is all awfully Nineteen Eighty-Four-ish to me . . . Did you ever think that maybe there is no person named Emmanuel Goldstein out there in the ether, running a covert resistance; maybe “Emmanuel Goldstein” is only just a creation of Big Brother, meant to ferret out the infidels.  . . . Ooohhh.  GMail says socks are on sale at J. Crew.  Niiice.)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got better things to do than Google+, like buying socks on sale, and spending my time serving clients.  Sure, I’ll eventually (if I’m smart) probably have to create a Google+ profile, and use it; but, I don’t have to do it during the very public private beta period.  There are one of two outcomes awaiting Google+, on the other side: It’s a successful platform, or it’s not.  If it’s a successful platform, then I’ll jump in with the rest of (the majority of) the world, fill out my profile and start leveraging the network for marketing LOMAP.  (See how I did that.)  If it’s an unsuccessful program, I’ve not wasted my own time, and I can sit back and laugh at everyone who poured significant effort into getting the most out of Google+, which would then become the equivalent of having retrofitted a saddle for a triceratops.  Remember Google Buzz and Google Wave?  Yeah.  False starts, they be; and, if you started fast with both of those, you’re probably Google’s targeted superconsumer; but, you also ended up wasting your own time trying out and marketing platforms that died on the vine, as sacrifices to the purplish altar of Google+.

. . .

“But, Google+ has, like, a billion users!!  You’re crazy and stupid, Jared!!”

Well, not quite.  And, the aforementioned Google Buzz ‘n’ Wave (which now sounds a lot like it could be a salon at a waterpark) were supposed to be the next big things, too–although, admittedly, Google+ has had a much better opening, and is far more promising a product.  And, of course, Google+ may ride this cresting momentum, and still become a success = the elusive, true Facebook competitor.  But, even if you don’t register until after the private beta ends, or at some other late hour, you’re not at all in danger of spoiling the party for yourself.  Facebook had been around for nigh on five+ years before people started figuring out that they could use social networking for a business purposes.  Some company that has set up a Facebook page in the last six months could certainly leverage that platform in a more effective way than some Harvard alum who’s had a profile since 2004.  You see, it’s not about first access; it’s about timing, and a commitment to effective use.

If you could get an invite, here’s what you’d find on Google+: Legal consultants, writing about things like this, trying to sell you their services, i.e.–not your clients.  Circles that you create that are made up, largely, of: (1) people you already know; and, (2) people trying to sell you hair replacement creams (maybe that’s just me; but, in any event . . .), i.e.–not your clients, or, already your clients.  Oh, and games.  Google+ is next competing with Facebook on games.  That should tell you something about the initial direction of the service.  All of these things (and lack of things: Google+ does not even have business pages yet, and you can’t use pseudonyms) lead to the inevitable conclusion that Google+ does not have the usership or tools to be a business-ready application at this juncture.  Unless you love Farmville, and are stoked to be able to play it on another site, it’s safe to wait for Google + to mature into business-ready uses, before you use it.  If it has legs, it’ll still be around when you’re prepared to dive in.

Don’t be one of the sheeple: don’t waste your time jumping on the Google+ bandwagon until it’s a solider bet.  Sometimes, focus groups can go horribly wrong.

And, remember that Dante organized hell in circles, too.

. . .

But, since I’ll never actually be able to convince you not to use Google+ until it’s ripe, just promise me that, if you do start using it (if you can get an invite from Justin Beiber or somebody else awesome like that), that you don’t spend a full week lost in the program, instead of billing your clients.  If you start using Google+ (or (what the hell) any other private/public beta social networking program, for that matter), you should make that usage, at least initially, only a very small part of your overall marketing efforts, until such time as you can relate to the program a viable return on investment for your efforts.

Oh, Who am I kidding?  I’ll have my Google+ profile completed by the time this is published.

11 Responses to “Beta Lambs Knew Not: The Case Against the Early Adopters”

  1. Love this post, but I think we may be in minority on this, Jared. Just this morning, in response to a Facebook Page update by Entrepreneur magazine re: Chris Brogan’s article on how business can get started on Google+, I commented, “The piece is about personal accounts. Can’t we simply wait until Google Plus actually allows business profiles, for crying out loud?”. Well, I was quickly and sufficiently chastised and a bunch of respondents joined in by liking her comment. I received none. I’ll live. I’m on Google Plus, but it’ll be a slow, deliberate adoption. This scramble to be the first is amusing, but I’m not complaining since I’ll benefit from their experience 🙂

  2. Thanks, Tim! And, yes, I think we are in a distinct minority here. But, better to be an iconoclast than an icon, I always say. I hope that you will only find love, re: your comments, in this space. Your measured approach respecting Google+, and in most things, is, I believe, as well, the correct one.

  3. Thanks, Tim! And, yes, I think we are in a distinct minority here. But, better to be an iconoclast than an icon, I always say. I hope that you will only find love, re: your comments, in this space. Your measured approach respecting Google+, and in most other things, as well, is, I believe, the correct one.

  4. @TimBaran Considering the flops of Buzz and Wave, you’d think people would be a little more cautious about Google+, but apparently not. It’s kind of like an a Steve Jobs Keynote: doesn’t matter what he says, people will show up in droves, talk it up and stare in awe.

    jaredcorreia The Dante reference, priceless!

  5. @econwriter5 My promise to the Small Firm Innovation readers: At least 1 to 2 literary references each post.

  6. While I am dabbling on G+ and enjoying the better content (IMO) I- this is a good article and I love your quote “You see, it’s not about first access; it’s about timing, and a commitment to effective use.” – Well said! — but I wanted to +1 your post and couldn’t find the button (kidding). Thanks!

  7. @mark_homer Thanks, Mark! haha–Where the hell IS that +1 button . . . It’s interesting that you think there is better content on G+. Do you think that’s because the attorneys on it are viewing it as a business information sharing portal, to start, when Facebook began as, obviously, solely a social networking site? I think it’s sort of interesting that G+ could grow up as “business Facebook”, at least in some segments. That could be an intriguing development to watch.

  8. I think the only place to get “public” info is pretty much twitter right now. So G+ gives me twitter like following ability but with a much nicer / robust interface to browse and create. Also, the early adopters I think are more content rich type peeps. I also like browsing by circles depending on what I am focusing on (separating legal oriented from social media talk, or friends, from networking, etc.). Kind of like using TweetDeck, again with better interface. BUT – The biggest issue is the number of people actively using it. As that grows it will be interesting if the posts reduce down to a bunch of re-sharing or “TGIF – I need Coffee” Facebook style posts. Agree though it will be good to watch, just trying to get in there and start managing my circles now as hindsight was a pain in the ass on twitter… I like your idea of the term a ‘business Facebook’ – I will borrow that in future conversations if you don’t mind 🙂

  9. @mark_homer All good points. Damn, I should always think to copyright witty things before I say them . . .

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