We’re now several weeks into Google+ and folks seem to be getting a handle on how they might use (or not use) the service. In addition to the usual tech early adopters, photographers have flocked to Google+ in droves. A few prominent photographers with strong online followings (such as Thomas Hawk and Trey Ratcliff) have championed the service as a great way to share photos and interact with the photography community. For these purposes, it works well.
On the other hand, the lack of an API, search functions, and/or robust mobile apps is preventing Google+ from being the answer in one big use case: events. Smart event attendees use Twitter to connect with other attendees, speakers, and staff. A hashtag is usually created for the event; anyone can follow along by using a search for the tag. These searches can be saved, and some applications allow for a search (or a list) to be used in lieu of the timeline view so that one can easily see the incoming items for the tag.
Given that my usage of Google+ shows that I could see it replacing Twitter, this is a roadblock.
Google+ simply won’t work at events right now for two reasons:
- Lack of search – Without search, any sort of #hashtag is useless. One can’t even search for the event name. As noted above, this is likely the killer feature for Twitter at events.
- No single-circle view on mobile apps – even if someone manually created a circle for the event, the mobile apps only show a combined “stream” view – there isn’t (at this point) a way to view only posts from a single circle.
I know many folks who were skeptical about the usefulness of Twitter until they used it at an event – it truly was one of the key use cases that helped the service gain traction. I hope that Google+ implements features soon allowing it to be used in a similar fashion. As it stands now, I’ll be heading to WordCamp San Francisco next week with around 1,000 other folks. Google+ won’t be of much use… back to Twitter we go.
I’d really like Google+ to succeed. I really don’t think I can continue to devote a lot of time to it unless it gets past some limitations quickly.