Google+, playing the generational waiting game?

It’s rare I find myself in these situations, and yet when I do I am slightly taken aback by the enthusiasm, intrigue and sheer excitement held by an individual surrounding the use of Google+.

Don’t get me wrong, I am surrounded in my day to day activities by people who are active users of social media, ‘social media fanatics’ if you please. I myself will freely admit I am partial to the not-so occasional tweet, and snoop… (I mean browse) through Facebook of an evening.

When the behemoth that is Google launched Google+ in 2011 on an invite only basis, there were many discussions within the technology world that Google+ could be “the new Facebook” and even now nearly three years later we are still waiting for that Google+ breakthrough. Interestingly, Google+ now has an active user base of 300 million, with a total of 540 million registered users.

But the question many repeatedly ask is “what makes Google+ different, and why should I use it?”. It’s a double edged sword; Google+ offers some really great functionality. Privacy is at the forefront, hangouts are possibly the most interesting marketing/promotional function I have seen to come out of a social network and yet most of us aren’t actively making use of the platform.


Just a couple of days ago I was sat on a bus travelling back from Chippenham where a child (no older than 13) hopped on the bus with his Nan. Half way into the journey the child turned to his Nan and asked her if she had Google+. They were sat just in front of me, and being the inquisitive person I am – I unashamedly eavesdropped.

Nan’s reaction surprised me, she turned to her Grandson and asked “is that another social network?” Her Grandson confirmed, and she pondered with a somewhat confused expression and said to him “I already have Facebook, why do I need another social network?”.

And then it happened. This approximately 13 year old child explained Google+ to his Nan in what I can only describe as the best description of Google+ I have ever heard – I know a lot about Google+, but when people ask about it I usually fob them off with “its a bit like Facebook but not as good”, purely because I don’t believe they will ever make efficient use of it.

However, this young boy turned to his Nan and ran through the positives of Google+ starting with Circles. His face lit up when talking about Circles, and he carefully explained to Nan how he can have a Circle with his friends, and one with his family that she could later join. That way they could share photos and messages with each other without anyone else looking at them. Whilst Nan was failing to see the attraction the young boy wasn’t going to give up. He continued telling Nan about how Google+ is necessary for YouTube and how if she wants to leave a comment on his YouTube page then she will have to set up a profile anyway!

I was absolutely astounded. Not only did he highlight two of the most important aspects of Google+, the requirement of a Google+ profile to leave comments on YouTube is such a recent addition, and for him to know so much about the subject was impressive, yet alone actually care about it.

The youngster was simply an articulate, intelligent 13 year old who was clearly passionate about Google+ – a platform that many of us much older than 13 have failed to grasp with that same enthusiasm.

To him Facebook is a thing of the past, and Google+ is the place to be. This got me thinking about Google+ and the audience Google are hoping to attract. Should Google+ in fact skip a couple generations and target Generation Z? Is this the generation needed to make Google+ the number one social network?

There are still so many unknowns in regards to Generation Z, but I’d love to hear your experiences with Google+ and the younger audience. My question to you, the reader is should we as marketers be embracing this platform to reach a younger demographic with our advertising efforts?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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