Periodically I host the Dallas Plussers Network Breakfast for Google+ user in the Dallas, Texas area to join me for a casual chat about how we use Google+. This month I turned the talk into a panel discussion on issues which are holding Google+ users back from being more interactive.
The discussion was not a scientific test or set up for any kind of marketing research study. It was four men and one women, and myself, in a large corner booth having a casual, and very frank, discussion. These Plussers interests in G+ ranged from two of them only on the Google social platform for the Social to the remaining three attempting to learn more on how G+ can effectively promote their business. All of them were somewhat savvy to how G+mechanics and how the features work. Surprisingly, the group was very forthcoming with addressing the issues they, and others, have with G+. They were also very good at articulating their frustrations and admirations with the Google+ platform.
Here are the three issues that are keeping them and other Plussers from using Google+ more.
It was rather easy to get the discussion start since right after I thanked the group for RSVPing to Dallas Plussers Network Breakfast G+ Event the first issue these Plussers said the majority of Plussers they know have with G+ has to do with Notifications. All chimed in with telling me I was lucky they saw the Notification for the Event in the long list of G+ Notifications they get throughout the day.
The uncontrollable large volumes of unwanted notifications was the group’s consensus as the issue keeping so many people from making a comment or interacting with others. All knew of the settings in the set-up but felt having to take the time to turn the settings OFF..instead of On…was what was keeping more people from using Google+. Having to modify the settings on Gmail to keep from getting Notifications also was sighted as a major announce.
Secondarily, and just as aggravating, was the bombardment of rapid fire notifications received after making a comment to someone’s post who has a lot of interaction. Nearly everyone said they were reluctant to comment on, or even +1 a post for, a person who has hundreds of thousands of people who have placed that person in their Circles. The panel agreed that over 90% of many of the comments they receive are from people just wanting attention in the thread of conversation and has nothing to do with providing value to the post.
All agreed that the addition of the Ringing Red Bell was a good move towards letting Plussers know they have a notification. However, the mechanics of reveiwing the Notification from the Pull-Down window just provided for more aggravation when most of the Notification in the list were from ‘Thrill Seekers’ who run through G+ hitting the +1 Button thinking it is improving their SEO.
Having to MUTE a conversation due to the large volumes of notifications received for each comment made to the original thread seemed to the panel very unproductive and a huge time bandit.
When the group was asked what they felt Google needed to do to effectively provide notice of someone making a comment to a post the solutions were few since all realized the limitations of the current set-up of the G+ platform.
It was suggested Google should consider constructing a Tab for Notifications like the Videos where the post most recently commented on would list first. This would allow Plussers to go to that tab and view all the posts they have made that have comments and the posts they comment on that have more comments posted.
Another suggestion was for Google+ to post a quick summary list instead of sending a Notification for Each Comment. Even this suggestion cracked after further discussion making the Notification Issue Google+ has the first issue Google needs to overhaul if they are wanting more people to use and interact on Google+.
For this group of Plussers, the Circles feature, and not being able to control who places them in a Circle, turned out to be a very touchy issue. A few of the plussers were not keen with who could see their content. They only wanted people, places and things of their choosing to see the content. Though they all agreed that attracting new audiences and Plussers they do not know would broaden their influence they all also agreed that having people they do not know sharing their posts was at best troublesome.
Not being able to control who can place them into a Circle and then share that circle publicly was also mentioned being a huge concern. All had stories where someone placed them in their Circle and then Shared that Circle to the public where a group of Spammers picked it and started attempting to get them to place them in their Circles so they could bombard their Circles with Spam.
One of the panelist told of how she accepted a Shared Circle from someone she knew very well only. Immediately after placed the Shared Circle in their Circle they started getting unwanted product promotions posts and comments. They reported after spending hours un-circling people they just Uncircled the entire Shared Circle making the entire effort worthless.
One of the other concerns the panel had was related to the large volume of profiles without Human Headshot photos. All agreed they learned quickly that most people who are not posting their face online tend to be hiding something. All said they will not place in a Circle or having anything to do with anyone..even people they know..if they are not serious enough to place a headshot of themselves in their Profile photo.
Seems the consensus of the panel was more people would use G+ if they had control on who can place them in their circle..similar to how LinkedIn controls.
The panel felt Google needs to put more effort in who they allow to use the G+ platform. Verifying who someone is would encourage more interaction with strangers.
I wrapped up my breakfast with what I suspected to be the most emotional issue these Plussers would voice and they did not let me down.
The issue plussers say most people they know have with Google+ has to do with .gif animated files and the Google + Autoawesomes flooding the profile stream. This resulted in the most liveliest part of the discussions held during this hour and half chat.
A half dozen war stories were shared on how the battle of the never ending photographic digitally enhanced animated loops were resulting in a lot of wasted time. The sheer numbers of animated posts had many of the Plussers rethinking why they were using Google+.
The Plussers who used Google+ to promote their business were the most turned off with the ,gifs. They sighted most of the inappropriate content being converted into .gif animated files was posted for the soul purpose of gaining attention to whoever posted the file. Even the Plussers who were using G+ for just the Social commented that the volumes of Autoawesomes was many times ‘not a pretty sight’.
One panelist said…“Having an entire monitor screen of moving images discounted the value of Google+ and muddied up what use to be a very clean interface.
I found out during this discussion that most of the Plussers who came to the breakfast did so to discuss with me what can be done to eliminate or block the files from being posted to their streams. All reported they have sent feedback forms to Google but quiet sending them since they feel Google is not doing anything with the,
All reported that the people they have placed in their circle who are posting .gifs and autoawesome also post some very compelling text content. This makes it hard to un-circle them for posting a few .gifs from time to time.
A few on the panel reported having talked to a few of these people who post large numbers of animated graphics to ask why they posted them and found they only did so out of thinking it was fun but quickly mentioned they saw where their interaction went down from posting .gifs.
One of the business Plussers mentioned as part of their marketing strategy started asking their customers if they used G+. Over 85% who said they use to being on G+ but stopped using or interacting on G+ due to there being too many animated posts in their stream.
Of course all of the panelist reported hearing from their friends who have limited data plans, weak CPU Processors and low bandwidth all giving up using Google+ because of the .gifs locking up their devices.
All agreed they enjoy some of the .gifs, but see that Google should offer users a Start and Stop button. This would be the simplest of the solutions to this issue.
Another suggestion was to place all .gifs in a Tab like they did for Games so when Google eventually finds out only a small portion of plussersphere enjoy the .gifs they can gracefully pull the plug like the did for Games.
Breakfast of Champions
Overall the discussion on the issues G+ users have with the platform made for an interesting and confirming experience. Now if only someone at Google would listen to the users of their platform and address these issues.
Other than that…my scrambled egg breakfast was enhanced knowing others are also having the same issues with the Google+ and still are loving G+. I am very humbled with people taking me up on my sign-off tagline…
Let me know how I can help.