Google+ Is Sooooooooo NOT Dead!


Yesterday over at the Slate, Farhad Manjoo wrote a post called “Google+ is Dead.”

In it he writes “The real test of Google’s social network is what people do after they join. As far as anyone can tell, they aren’t doing a whole lot.” He says he is “surprised” at how dreary it has become.


Farhad doesn’t seem to have spent much time on Google+ recently. His last post about baby products was on August 22nd.

My experience has been the *EXACT* opposite. My experience (as an active daily user) is that Google+ is not only NOT dead, it is alive and thriving! It is the most exciting social network I’ve ever been a part of.

In response to Farhad’s article, I wanted to highlight some of my own personal experiences to point out what I’d call a raging social success for me.

Note that much of my experience revolves around the photography space on Google+. I’m a photographer and so that’s where my interest is. I can’t vouch for the baby product crowd (although Farood did get 45 comments on his baby product post which sort of feels like alot).

Let’s start with circles. Farhad says that Google has failed at keeping people returning to the site. Here was my last posting of my kick ass photographers circle on Google+. I had to publish it in two parts because there were soooooo many. Here are 1,000 active photographers, many posting to Google+ every single day. These photographers are posting *KICK ASS* photos constantly and getting tons of engagement. If Google+ is dead, somebody sure forgot to tell these folks.

There are wayyyyy more than these folks in the photography community though — in fact I feel bad about my circles because I’ve overlooked so many other kick ass photographers that are just as active on the site. There’s so many great phototgraphers posting it’s hard to keep up!

Photography is THRIVING on Google+ right now, moreso than any place else on the web — more than Flickr, more than Facebook, more than Twitter — absolutely thriving.

Now how about debate and engagement? The other day my friend +Trey Ratcliff posted a post about why he doesn’t use watermarks on his photos. That post got over 1,800 +1s, 588 reshares, and as of this post 443 comments. 443 COMMENTS! That’s even more comments than Farhad got on a major news site like Slate writing an inflamatory article with the title “Google+ is Dead.”

How is it that a raging debate about watermarking 443 comments long is taking place on a dead site? Hell, even +Maria Bartiromo +1’d that sexy thing.

Just today I’m currently having a debate with the focus police on one of my photos (alot of people don’t like my out of focus stuff) that is moving by the minute.

Forget about the big picture stuff though, what about the little more personal and private stuff. I spent a few years on Flickr interacting with tons of people — but with many of them I never got to really meet or talk to them face to face, until Google Hangouts that is.

Now I’m having video chat conversations with friends all over the world, a bunch of people jumping into a room on any given night and talking about things like shaving sheep or photography or photo safari trips, or censorship, or any number of things, they’re great!

Did I mention a group of us are going to Death Valley? That’s right. So far 45 photographers are planning to take over the town of Beatty IN REAL LIFE! People are coming in from all over the U.S., hell in +Ricardo Liberato’s case all over the world, to get together and make amazing art in one of the most dramatic and beautiful settings in the world. How is this happening, yep, all on the dead ol’ place Google+.

And while my account on Google+ is a popular one, this does not explain why it is so vibrant and alive to so many others. I keep seeing post after post after post from photographers (many less popular than me) who are posting less and less at places like Flickr and Facebook and more and more at Google+. It’s a huge groundswell of a movement.

So do I think Google+ is dead? No. Far from it. To the contrary Google+ is alive and thriving and growing and getting better and better and better every day.

At the same time I’m confident in Google’s ability to continue pushing the successful site forward. The money that Google is spending on Google+, the rapid innovation, the interaction with the community by Googlers themselves, the ability to cross promote Google+ to other successful properties (just imagine when they turn the promotion machine on with YouTube!), the ability to integrate Google+ into search and the importance it will play for anyone who cares about SEO, there are so many reasons why Google+ will be successful in the long run.

In the meantime, for those of us who are there today, it is an engaging dynamic playground and it’s where some of the best emerging artists on the internet are choosing to publish their best work.

I don’t think Farhad has given Google+ a fair chance. I also don’t think he’s playing in the same playground that I’m playing in right now, because for me (and thousands of other active daily photographers) Google+ is very much vibrant, alive and thriving.

If you are not already on Google+ don’t listen to naysayers like Farhad — come on over, the water’s warm, the beer is cold, and they have the best damn oysters on the half shell that you’ve ever had in your life!

You can find me on Google+ here.

Update: Another interesting take by the New York Times titled “Google+ Isn’t Going Away,” talks about how important Google+ is to Google as simply another layer to integrate into their search service.

“Detractors don’t realize one very important point: Google does not see Google+ as a separate product; to the company, Google+ is the product.

Sure, Google hopes to build a social network that competes with Facebook, Twitter and other social services, but that is not the main reason the company has put so many resources behind Google+. Instead, Google+ is a social layer that has always been intended to sit on top of the company’s flagship product: search.”

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  1. Well said Thomas, I totally agree. Google Plus has really hit the mark where photographers are concerned. I’m also a martial artist and web designer, which both have very active communities online, but on G+, the photographic side of things has stood head and shoulders above the rest.

    I think it’s perhaps due to the fantastic lightbox that it has, as well as the ease of resharing photos.

    +1 from me too.

  2. Tim Arrick says:

    Thomas, I agree from a photography professional/amateur standpoint. My problem is that while it is great from the standpoint of connecting with photographers, there are not a lot of clients here for my business yet so . . . . . I have to try to keep up with Twitter, Facebook, and G+ now and from not only a personal standpoint but a professional standpoint. Oh yeah and my full time job and my family. Unfortunately G+ is the one that suffers the neglect. That being said, it is a long way from dead but we really need to get some more “normal” ie non photogs there 😉

  3. Jason Bossley says:

    Hear Hear Thomas.

    I completely agree. I’ve been an avid Flickr user/fan for over 6 years and I just about stopped posting to my beloved site due to lack of feedback and frankly, lack of contacts comments. In less than one month use of Google +, I have gotten as much feedback from people I never met before than a whole year of well-known contacts from Flickr. I still love that site, I always will. I will continue following my favorite photogs there, and may even post something once in a while, but I can tell you for sure, My social media platform has moved to a new town, Google-town that is. Good-bye Yahoo, Never liked you anyway.
    Link to my G+:

  4. Danny says:

    hello mate

  5. Eric Brown says:

    I agree with the others G+ is an incredible site for for those of us wanting to participate in a community of people with similar interests but I don’t see a lot of personal stuff going on like you do on FB and Twitter. Of course that could be happening privately and we wouldn’t see it. Also G+ is still quite young I believe that given time it will become more of a social site. I feel one of the major issues with G+ is that it is very difficult to find people according to their High School, College, workplace, etc… you can’t really use it to connect with long lost friends like you could with FB and Myspace.
    That being said Google + rocks!!!

  6. justsaying says:

    trying to make an argument by only using personal anecdotes to someone talking about universal usage doesn’t prove anything at all. this is the weakest argument I have ever heard….sorry, Slate wins.

  7. Albert says:

    A good response to a Negative post Thomas. As per the expectation I’m getting more and more engagement in Google+ than Facebook. In Facebook my friends are afraid of liking my fun stuff, but here at Google Plus, they active like ants.

  8. Thomas Hawk says:

    anonymous “just saying.” I’d hardly talk about “personal anecdotes” take a look at the photographers and on a widescale basis, the group is quite active, irrespective of my own personal experience.

  9. justsaying says:

    lolwut? in your opening argument

    “MY experience has been the *EXACT* opposite. MY experience (as an active daily user) is that Google+ is not only NOT dead, it is alive and thriving! It is the most exciting social network I’ve ever been a part of.”

    how many times do you mention yourself? oh wait, in every point….

    Trey Ratcliff, who you used as one of your points of G+’s success, has 327,711 people following him. Even if all these people used G+ every day (which im sure at least half that number is dead accounts, just based on the statistics of G+ usage), 327,711/40,000,000 isn’t even a percent, its a meaningless sample-size, and if you want to use that sort of argument, look at the slate article, 2,000 shares on facebook 200 on google plus, what does that tell you?

    just because G+ is working for your tiny microcosm of very active users, doesn’t mean it’s a viable product for the macro. Just ask the guys who liked BetaTapes and LaserDiscs.

    If google+ can tweak itself to appeal to the masses maybe it can be something that is long lasting, but if it can’t, even if 1,000,000 people used G+ every day, its not going to be worth google’s time.

  10. Thomas Hawk says:

    anonymous “just saying,” while I talk about my own experience, I also talk about the experience of the 1,000 other photographers in my photographers circle. Beyond that even, photographers more generally speaking on Google+.

    In terms of the slate article, I’d say if Trey can get better engagement on a personal Google+ account with an article about watermarking than a major news site can get using an inflammatory piece titled “Google+ is Dead” that this speaks to the success of G+ as a channel.

    BTW in comparison to Trey’s 327k followers, says Slate gets 3.4 million monthly uniques. Farhad is one of their mot popular writers on the site and his article appeared on the homepage. It was also featured prominently on Techmeme and other places around the web. And yet still Trey’s personal post garnered more comments. Engagement at Google+ is high, especially amongst photographers.

    Q. Do you work for facebook or for a PR agency hired by Facebook?

  11. @justsaying
    One of Thomas’ main points was that nay-sayers don’t even use Google + enough, or at least “play in the same playground” to make an accurate judgement on the matter. The community of photographers and techies that I am a part of is “thriving” as Thomas pointed out. Perhaps the “playground” that Farhad plays in IS boring and “dreary” I would beg to differ, as would 100% of my “playmates”

  12. Gary Denness says:

    Thomas, I think Google+ is great. It’s slick and the mobile app for Android beats the Facebook app out of the field. And, in my honest opinion, Google+ is dead. As a social network, anyway. You’ve spelled out, to a certain degree, why that is in this post. Even if you did so inadvertently.

    Google+ could, if married to Picasa right, and if Picasa is seriously upgraded, become a top photo hosting site. I hope so. But it may well have already lost the battle to be a Facebook competitor, let alone a Facebook killer. I would argue that I’m a far better barometer as to whether Google+ will be a success than yourself. I’m an average Joe with plenty of tech and shiny new thing enthusiam. I’m the user Google+ needs to win over. It isn’t working. The power users like yourself are incidental. It’s the long tail that’ll make or break a social network.

    You have to ask the question, assuming the above is correct…is Google happy for Google+ to evolve into a more niche product than it intended? Or will it join Buzz, Wave et al?

  13. justsaying says:

    you are missing my point. I’m talking about this from a business perspective, not the fanboy “I am creating personal identity in G+” stance you two are taking. I’m really glad its working for you, kudos. I’m not going to bother auguring with you anymore, as you two just keep pulling strawmen to defend your precious baby.

    Here’s the fact, you pick a microcosm of a tiny 300,000 people to gauge the overall success of a site (which is NOTHING when you compare numbers to twitter and Facebook). If google’s goal was to be a niché photography site then yeah, they would be doing good, but they are trying to create a social media contender to the big dogs (twitter and facebook) in that aspect, the site is a complete failure at this point, and unless google can come up with a strategy to get more user-ship, its dead in the water

    Furthermore, saying “people are using the site wrong” is stupid, a successful website cannot be used “wrong” and a user should not have to WORK to get the most out of a website. If people go to there g+ page and find it boring, thats google’s fault, not the user. It’s googles job to provide the user with interesting content if they want them to use their service.

    If you are going to continue to try and argue me by using your personal microcosm, don’t bother. If you feel like getting your head out of the sand, looking at the bigger picture, and stop being terrified of me tearing away your personal identity that you are finding in G+, please, provide me with an argument that g+ is being successful at the macro-level, because i don’t think you can.

  14. Sly Vegas says:

    Speaking from the standpoint of a highly social person, who works from home, and who’s social life is somewhat crippled by my occupation, i will firstly say that Google+ has not only changed the possibilities of how we can interact with one another, but has revolutionized it !

    I have ran the gambit on social media networks since day one of myspace, both on a social and business level. Never before have i encountered such a genuine sense of community.

    Being a musician, photographer, extreme sports enthusiast, personal business owner, and as mentioned, a highly social individual, even in its beta testing phase Google+ delivered a richer social media networking experience than anything I’ve tried yet, and its just improving everyday.

    “DEAD” i beg to differ. Google+ is a baby monster feeding on the life-blood of its competitors. When its all grown up, there will be little to nothing left of said competition.

  15. Sly Vegas says:

    PS: +1 !

  16. I’m not an internet celebrity like Thomas is, but I still have over 8000 followers on Google+. I can post a photo or a comment, with in less than a minute the photo starts getting attention from other users.

    The level of interaction on G+ is amazing. There is so much going on, I really don’t get how anyone can say it’s dead. Maybe they don’t realize to get something out of Google+, you have to put something into it. Some people seem to think they can just show up and everyone will flock to them without any effort on their part. It doesn’t work that way, nor should it.

    Google’s been making it easier and easier to +1, comment, etc., with each new update. They really “get” what’s going on with their network. There are plenty of communities — photographers, artists, writers, etc. Do a little looking, and you’ll likely find it in spades. Public circles, theme days, group/as lists, and so on.

  17. chris says:

    i gawddamn love g+ and being blown away daily by photographers i never would have known about otherwise. photographers brought to my attention by other photographers through circle sharing and post sharing.

    also, haha@focus police.

  18. allan says:

    People who said Google+ is dead, because:
    1. Their Google+ profile have no or very few people in circles
    2. They don’t like strangers, so they don’t take the effort to find and circle them for the same reason that they see Google+ as a clone of Facebook
    3. Given the point at #2, Google+ is a ghost town
    4. They don’t read stuff like “Google+ for Beginners”
    5. They want to circle their “Facebook” friends

    Please add.

  19. Disneytaxi says:

    Farhad is abs right … as any Google product +1 is dead after birth )))

  20. Hey, TH — have you seen what the G+ photography community is doing for Sly Vegas? They’re donating money so he can replace his camera. So very cool.

    So much for G+ being dead.

  21. Sly Vegas says:

    right Celene ?? if google+ was dead, then a bunch of dead people, most of whom ive never even had the pleasure to meet, all pitched in and bought me an $1800 camera in just over a 24 hour period ! ! ! i have yet to see anything like it.

    that never could have happened on facebook…

  22. How much did people raise for you, Sly? So have you ordered or bought the camera yet? I feel a bit like it’s Christmas for you. 🙂

  23. Jake says:

    “Q. Do you work for facebook or for a PR agency hired by Facebook?”

    Yeah TH, Facebook is hiring people to visit your blog and leave comments that will not doubt be read by perhaps dozens of people.

  24. Thomas Hawk says:

    Jake you obviously missed the story where Facebook secretly hired Burson-Marsteller to pitch anti-Google stories to blogs with less traffic than mine:

    You think they’d hire a PR firm to pitch small blogs stories but wouldn’t leave comments on blogs?

    This blog post here was linked both over in the comments at the Slate where the original story appeared as well as one of less than six or so other blogs tied to the story on Techmeme, certainly one of the most influential and important places on the web for people to get technology news.

  25. If Google+ was dead I would not be seeing the difference in just a couple of weeks in traffic to my site.

    I have been blown away with the response I have been getting to my work. Everyone has been truly wonderful and supportive.

    I think alot of people don’t like change. I’ve been trying to get friends over from FB. It’s a slow process.

    Very well written blog Thomas.

  26. A big thank you for your article post.Thanks Again. Much obliged.