The Over Promise, Under Delivery Of Google’s G+ Signup Nagging & What it Means

Google is on a mission. If you have been in Siberia studying methane emissions from tundra ponds, you might not have noticed. Otherwise their incredibly aggressive nagging to get you to get a G+ account may have seemed like an ever present specter in your daily Google jaunt.

This nag, brought to my attention by Mike Ramsey, seemed particularly lame. Here’s the pitch with the benefits as to why you should join.

(Click to view larger)

The delivery?

Could Google have delivered any less on their promise of benefits?

Why this persistent (and often lame) nagging? What is Google’s agenda? Is it just another ham handed way to get you to use Google+ so that they have enough content to provide social search results and compete with Facebook?

No. They are not trying to convince you to use G+. That is not the “plot” here. A campaign to get you to post on G+ would look dramatically different. At this point, at least, they don’t really care if you never post on +.

If it isn’t obvious they are trying to get you to get a G+ login account. What’s the difference you ask? Google’s mission is to get full embrace of their single login logic, system wide social backbone. For the moment, that is a much more valuable “commodity” to them than 200 word Plus post here and there.

The benefits to Google (and to a lesser extent their users) of this plan are many.
– This will dramatically reduce the friction between their many products.
– Reduced friction will mean increased use across all of their product
– This increased use will in and of itself allow Google to better personalize your results and will provide increased search signals
– Google will be better able to manage and limit the impact of folks that violate their rules.

I am not saying they will never push users to G+, its just that isn’t what we are seeing now. Google wants to improve the stickiness of their site, reduce abandonment and increase pleasure. They are trading the short term pain of all the nagging for the hope that once they have 400 or 500 (or 800) million users securely logging in that cross product usage will increase, that spam will be decreased and users will be happier and more likely to use their product.

A regular user of Docs will now be able to leave a review without the annoying problem of having the additional step of getting a nickname. The regular user of reviews will now be able to more easily share that review on G+ plus. The regular user of YouTube might explore gmail more willingly. Lower friction means less abandonment, higher usage, more page views and greater user satisfaction (oh and more opportunity to show ad inventory).

There is a management side as well. Google doesn’t like spam. They don’t like fake 1+s nor do they like fake reviews. They just haven’t been able to do much about it, up to now. In the review environs Google was forced to remove the multiple reviews of an aggressive spammer, review by review. Google also doesn’t like the tedium of hand labor. With a G+ account, the reviewer can now be banned with the ease that in the past, only one review could be taken down. Their many reviews come down in one fell swoop and the user will need to build authority from the ground up. Over time that deficit will make a difference in Google’s ability to improve results for others.

This is not to say that they won’t some day try to “force” you to use the G+ social network. They may very well decide to do so. It just isn’t today. Today they just want you to get a G+ account.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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13 thoughts on “The Over Promise, Under Delivery Of Google’s G+ Signup Nagging & What it Means”

  1. Thanks Mike, great post as always. I agree completely with your statement that “they are trying to get you to get a G+ login.” I’m seeing this with small business owenrs I work with who have signed-up for Google+ and now having done so, their clients must get a G+ log-in in order to leave a review.

    If that were the end of the story, it would be one thing that Google is sort-of sneakily attempting to get to that magic number of users (800 million?) to rival Facebook and become a viable social option.

    However, the issue with reviews on what used to be Places, now Google Local+ is going to have the exact opposite effect it would seem. When customers leave a review on G+ for a business, the reviews are not being published publicly, and this is having a negative effect on Google’s reputation with business owners and customers alike.

    Any advice for businesses who are experiencing the “incredible missing reviews” problem (old Places reviews show up, but new reviews left after switching to G+ do not)? I’m looking through your blog for a post on this – can you point me to a link or share your thoughts?

  2. @Caroline
    I would need to see some specific examples of reviews not showing up. I know that all of my reviews now show post G+local rollout. So it could be that they have done a Yelp and are now more rigorous in judging that first review? Or perhaps more discerning as to the source of the review?

    Were the reviews given on a review station on site? Had the reviewers previously left reviews? Are there other conditions that might have precipitated the spam filter?

  3. Mike,

    Insightful as usual… Unfortunately I don’t see any evidence of G+ cleaning up the review gaming business that Google’s lax enforcement of their TOU created. It took less than 24 hrs for some of the companies that boost reviews to start creating profiles. I’ve started collecting the suspicious profiles in a circle and it is comical to watch these profiles review the same businesses, always perfect scores, always in quick succession.
    If I can figure out how to do this as a novice G+ user, I simply can’t believe that Google can’t see the same patterns and purge the content. I’ve reported several profiles in the circle but none have been removed as of yet.

    Appreciate your work as always,
    Ryan

  4. @Mike
    Thank you for the quick response – now THAT’s great customer service! ;-)

    It is very possible that the problem is all new reviews that have been left after the G+ local rollout are by customers who either A) never left a Google review before or B) did not have a Google+ account before – or C) both.

    Before Google+ local (so, with Google Places), it’s likely that the reviewers had never left a review previously either — but what you’re saying is that with Google+ local it’s possible that G is being more aggressive and this is triggering the spam filter – resulting in the reviews not posting?

    All of the reviews were left via Google+ (i.e., following a link from the client’s website or e-mail to their Google+ local page, customer signs up for G+ account and then leaves the review).

    So – I’m gathering that the answer is my client needs to get a review from a customer who also happens to be a savvy Google user who has left reviews in the past in order for the reviews to show up?

    I’m trying to follow Google’s logic here … and this would seem like it would encourage more gaming of the review system … i.e., getting reviews from savvy Google users vs. real customers who have something great to say but just aren’t Google savvy (yet)?

  5. @Ryan
    I am not saying that they have implemented an automated program of limiting sock puppets. I am saying that it will be easier to do so manually. Have you tried reporting the G+ profile for abuse? Do so and let me know what happens after say 2 weeks.

    @Caroline

    I do not yet know what is happening in your case. If the reviews are being buried AND the clients are doing everything correctly then a possible explanation is a tightening of their spam algo. It is a hypothesis only. More facts are needed.

  6. No. They are not trying to convince you to use G+. That is not the “plot” here. A campaign to get you to post on G+ would look dramatically different. At this point, at least, they don’t really care if you never post on +.

    If it isn’t obvious they are trying to get you to get a G+ login account. What’s the difference you ask? At this point, Google’s mission is to get full embrace of their single login logic, system wide social backbone. For the moment, that is a much more valuable “commodity” to them than 200 word Plus post here and there.

    I agree that they don’t care much right now if you’re actively using Plus (as one does Facebook), but the point is to make you feel like a better user experience requires that you sign up and stay signed in, which is the only thing that will ever make Google+ work (and why Google Buzz failed). Basically they’re making sure they keep their horse in front of the cart this time by building a user base (hundreds of millions of accounts) and then they’ll roll out their strategy for destroying FB. (Not saying they’ll win that one, just that’s what seems to be happening, versus how they rolled out Buzz.)

  7. Hi Mike

    Do you think it matters if they have a domain based login or a gmail login for the G+ account?

    With the problems of hacking, I am concerned about businesses having all their eggs in one basket with one login – Webmaster Tools, Analytics, Adwords, Places – ideally, surely, we should be trying to keep some of those important properties separate from our every day social media accounts like YouTube?

  8. Mike:

    I’m interested in Ryan’s commentary. He is a specialist in reviews. A short while ago I forwarded to you a body of reviews for an SMB that I’m 99% sure was totally created by a marketing firm. Its too perfect and the body of reviews is too different from what you’d see on competitors sites from real people.

    I can’t trace the reviewers –all of whom posted before the change to google+local.

    I’m sure though dedicated review businesses will create emails and google contacts and continue to penetrate the review market. I’m wondering how many. Google’s new system, after all is not Fort Knox.

    @Ryan: Interested in your feedback after you’ve had some time to track fakes. :D

  9. @Randy

    I would agree with you that the only way for G+ to succeed long haul is to have significant user traction from a significant number of users account. Their actions, while not directly focused on G+ at the moment, do give it a much better long term chance of success. But from their vantage point G+ is but one of a suite of products that they want to succeed.

  10. I don’t disagree that it’s part of a larger suite of products, but I think it’s worth noting that it’s tied in to what one might call their “big 3″ – Organic search (+1 buttons, socially influenced results by default for logged in users), paid search (+1 next to Adwords ads, again social influencing), and of course the transformation of Places (a local directory) in to +Local (a local directory within a social network).

    I guess one could easily argue though that the endgame is of course advertising revenue on all fronts. The more they track what we do (as more of us stay logged in) the more they can show us relevant ads, which we’re more apt to click.

  11. @Jo
    As to whether it is better to have a gmail or domain, not sure. In the end, Google will need to trust both so I am not sure it matters.

    I had never really thought about the security issue quite the way you have framed it. Certainly there are concerns.. Google would say thats why they went to HTTPS and double login, so the users would feel secure. If someone used all of Google’s tools, your question is still valid.

  12. Once we’re all signed into Google, and using all the Google products, and have everything tied in via one username and address, the we’ll see who really has all the power.

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