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We all know of Google’s dubbed “Facebook killer” called Google+ that has, in fact, failed to kill Facebook. We also know that the success of Google+ is also highly debated. Sure, it sports over 40 million users, but only a fraction of those users actually remain active. In contrast, as of last September, Facebook has over 800 million active users worldwide.
So, what went wrong for Google+?
From the outset of its beta, the primary selling point of the service was its almost too simple way of organizing your friends into Circles so you can share specifically and privately with only certain people. Circles was meant to be a means of one-upping Facebook’s lackluster and underused Lists feature.
However, Circles is by no means perfect, and the way it’s intended to be used is somewhat laborious. Using Circles is a manual process and requires you to drag and drop your friends in a variety of friend categories that you’ve created.
The problem is that friendships aren’t one or the other, and are constantly changing. Google+ can’t keep up with your life outside of your interactions on Google+, and thus requires you to continually evaluate your friendships and manually change them on the service.
If you think about it, most people wouldn’t bother spending the time to organize their friends into super specific categories, let alone keeping the Circles organized and up to date. This, basically, then renders Circles useless.
Shortly after Google+’s release, Facebook announced Smart Lists, a feature capable of automatically grouping some of your friends. For example, it creates Smart Lists for people you are related to, places you work, and for where you are currently living.
What’s more, and what is the most important part of Smart Lists in terms of updating relationship and organizing friends on a social network, is its ability to dynamically update. If a work friend leaves for a new job, he is automatically removed from that List once he updates his employment. Facebook is showing that developing better ways to categorize your friends without you having to think about it is important for its users.
Therefore, rather than Google+ requiring its users to manually update their Circles, Google should start to give Circles some artificial intelligence capable of evaluating and updating for you. While there’s not a way that I’m aware of for Google to know every detail of your life, there must be a way to analyze your behavior and interactions across the site to do this. I don’t know what that is, but I’ll leave it to the developers to figure out.
What do you think about Google+’s Circles? Do you use them? Do you constantly update them? Please share your opinion.