Is Google+ the Third Place of Social Networking?

Can Google+ be the “third place” of social networking? Or is it simply in third place?

Google+, a new social network from Google, has certainly had a lot of- pardon the expression- buzz. As a longtime Gmail user, I must admit feeling a bit offended about not being able to sign up right away for the service. Google’s practice of trickling out invites, thereby stirring up social networking envy, seems to be a good way of generating interest. Or at least keeping technology journalists employed.

I was relieved when one of my trendy friends- Eric Vallo- finally sent me an invitation to join the Google+ Elite. I hastily completed my profile, started arranging my Google friends into circles, and installed the Apple iPhone/iOS app. But I’m not sure that I’m a sold-out Google+ believer.

Starbucks has built a global network of over 17,000 locations in over 50 countries based on the concept of a “third place” to relax and unwind between home and work.

Howard [Schultz (Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer)] traveled to Italy and became captivated with Italian coffee bars and the romance of the coffee experience. He had a vision to bring the Italian coffeehouse tradition back to the United States. A place for conversation and a sense of community. A third place between work and home. [emphasis added]

From Our Heritage on the Starbucks web site.

I use Facebook as my personal social network and both LinkedIn and Twitter for my professional social network. And I’m not alone in this separation of social network “friends”. Can Google+ be the “third place” of social networking, between home (Facebook) and work (LinkedIn)?  Or is it simply in third place?  (See Jamie Oswald’s related SAP Community blog Why Google+’s rapid adoption doesn’t impress me).

Unlike most of the Facebook community that gets offended when the Facebook UI changes, I’m pretty happy with its abilities to keep me in touch with people. Since SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence is just a small portion of the technology world, I rely on Twitter as a news ticker app (and shameless self promotion tool for this blog). And LinkedIn? I appreciate that the fact that your resume is always “out there” may or may not indicate that you’re in the job market. LinkedIn is also helpful for keeping track of technical professionals who, on average, change jobs every 18-24 months. Honestly, I wish LinkedIn was more like Facebook than it currently is. And I still wonder what LinkedIn was thinking when they built the mobile app. But does any of this give Google+ an opportunity to unseat any of the current social networking leaders, similar to the way Facebook sucked the life out of MySpace?

For me, checking Google+ is another item on my social network “to do” list. And after a couple of weeks of usage, it’s still at the bottom of my social network “to do” list. And this, ultimately, may be Google+’s dilemma. Regardless of how good or different it is from existing social networks, is it groundbreaking enough to get a large number of social networkers to stop using one or more of their existing social networks? As of today, the answer for me is “no”.

Excuse me while I go check my Twitter feed

Are you using Google+? Or experiencing social network fatigue?

UPDATE October 9, 2018 – Google shutting down Google+ after exposing data of up to 500,000 users via CNET