My Google+ Anecdote: Engagement Gone Missing

Google+Google+ launched nearly a year ago, and I remember it vividly. It seemed like such a cool concept: an answer to all the annoyances that were found throughout Facebook. I got in on the action early, before the wider unveiling. And I found myself meeting new people and engaging in fascinating conversations.

The Google+ crowd was savvy and smart. Granted, much of the conversation initially was pretty meta. We were using a new tool to discuss how cool it was to be using a new tool to discuss how we were using it… that sort of thing.

But I could ask questions like “do you tip when you order takeout / to-go orders?” or “what’s the best way you’ve found to discover new music you like?” and end up with dozens of solid responses. And it wasn’t just questions that made for good conversations. People on Google+ were genuinely more interested in dialogue and engaged sharing than people on Twitter or Facebook.

So what’s changed in the last year? I’m not sure exactly. Perhaps the magic wore off. Another prevailing theory is that the atmosphere somehow changed once the unwashed masses joined the party (as compared to the techie early birds). The irony is that while my follower count has steadily increased to over 15,000, it has been inversely correlated to the rate of engagement.

Nowadays Facebook is where most of my online engagement takes place even though I tend to cross-post most everything I share onto Google+ as well. As it turns out, high Google+ engagement was an anomaly while Facebook engagement has always been pretty steady.

Facebook, with all its annoyances, is more effective than ever at engaging and connecting me. With all its flaws, it feels closer to how human interaction happens in the offline world insomuch as I’ve met personally almost every one of my 400+ friends.

And perhaps that’s the way it should be.

*Update* Two days later and Fast Company has quite the article on the same topic: Exclusive: New Google+ Study Reveals Minimal Social Activity, Weak User Engagement