I joined Google+ this past week — the new social media mashup of something like Facebook and Twitter. Unlike Google’s earlier social media attempts, such as Buzz, Google+ is the real deal and gives Facebook something to ponder as it potentially slips into the MySpace zone.
But, aside from Google+’s features and functions which are compelling even as it is still in beta, I think the whole “plus” idea as a branding element is ill-conceived. It presents too many marketing challenges considering how social media memes are often integrated into the lives and conversations of users. Google needs a new social dialect with terminology that easily sets them apart.
The minuses on the plus:
- The plus sign is harder to type. Facebook is often abbreviated FB. G+ requires more finger contortions.
- The plus sign is an iconic cue for adding items (in fact, you’ll see it used on Google+ as a prefix, such as “+ Add more people” when you’re sharing a post). Peppering the interface with plus signs — which is your logo if you’re Google+ — may be confusing.
- Like something? Google+ gives you a “+1” button. People won’t say “I plus-one’d it on Google Plus”, will they? That seems clunky. If anything, they’ll say, “I ‘plussed’ it.” (Google+ may eventually have to simplify their version of the Like button with just a simple plus sign dropping the “1”). Using your logo element here would be akin to Facebook, instead of its thumbs-up Like icon, using an “F” button. Imagine if people F’d this or F’d that. That would be pretty F’d up. People like Like and I suspect +1 is going to be hard to adopt.
- Compared to the very colloquial “Facebook me”, “friend me”, “Google it”, “tweet”, etc., what’s the Google+ verb?
- The girl at the bar who asks, “Google me” — is she suggesting a background check via the Google search engine or is that a “friend” request on Google+? What about some other Google+ themes? “Circle me” conjures images of prey. However, “huddle with me” is awesome, especially if she’s cute.
- Because of this, we can expect people to muddle terms from other service brands (e.g., “I ‘Liked’ it on Google+” or perhaps even “I sent a tweet on Google+”). Unfortunately, this dilutes its brand identity.
On the plus side, I give Google+ an A for taking away Facebook market share. But the ‘+’ adds up to a big G-minus for marketing.