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Google+ television ads are pointing people in the wrong direction

Google Plus Circles

Google Plus Circles

When I heard that Google had put out their first Google+ television commercial, I was both impressed and a little excited. “Finally,” I thought, “they’re going to make a push to bring Google+ into mainstream consciousness.”

FacepalmI watched the commercial and immediately facepalmed.

Despite clear indications from users and bloggers that Google+ Circles is a nice feature but not the thing that would separate it from Facebook, Google continues to highlight it as something special.

“Sharing but like real life.” That’s the message. It’s very Applesque in styling and concept. It’s even delivered in much the same way that Apple delivers their messages at the end of commercials. In this case, it misses the mark, creates more questions, establishes an expectation that potential new users will not understand, and does very little to create actual interest.

Here is the ad that was first aired during the Thanksgiving Day NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions:

The timing was good. Thanksgiving is when many families get together, so having a commercial in front of a large national audience when the conversation could be sparked was brilliant for what they wanted to accomplish. The hope was that a group of friends and/or relatives would be sitting together, eating turkey, watching the game, and they would see the commercial. Someone would ask, “Has anyone tried that yet?”

Google hoped that someone in each group had, in which case they would then immediately recommend to their friends and relatives that they should put down their pecan pie and join Google+ right there and then. That was the goal, but they fell short.

The timing was right. The opportunity was impeccable. The message was wrong.

Rather than highlighting an obscure, ethereal message surrounding a decent feature of the product, they should have gone boldly forward. They needed a message that would stick, one that could have truly sparked the Thanksgiving family room conversation.

“Is everyone you know on Google+? If not, they will be… soon.”

Statements like that can become self-fulfilling predictions. Nobody likes to be excluded in today’s social-media-driven world. It doesn’t matter that the message is far from reality today. They hope it won’t be in the future and stating it would have helped the cause.

The concept of tying Circles into real-life is asinine. People don’t want their social networks to be like real life. They want them to be an ideal representation of life. Highlighting the concept of sharing different things with different groups of friends and family is going against the grain. Today, people fall into one of four categories:

  • Social media users who don’t care that all of their friends and even the general public can see what they post on Facebook
  • Social media users who want all of their friends and the general public to see what they post on Facebook
  • Social media users who have figured out how to make their posts private and share selectively
  • Non-social media users

Unfortunately for Google+, their message isn’t appealing to any of them other than possibly the 3rd group, and even then they’re asking people to learn a new way to share selectively.

Facebook is too big. Too many of everyone’s friends, family, and acquaintances are already on it. Having better features is not enough if they want a chunk of that business. Focusing on the better features is not the best way to get people to try it. Google needs to understand what they’re truly up against. It’s not Facebook. It’s complacency. Many people who don’t even like Facebook use it every day because it’s the easiest way to keep up with everyone they know and have known. There is no other single venue where someone can see what their close friends are doing, check on the activity of a junior high buddy, and post their thoughts about the movie they just watched within a 2 minute time span.

Google+ isn’t going to win people over by being better. They’re going to win people over by winning more people over. They need to bulk up to make themselves relevant and useful. Ads such as the one they just ran aren’t going to do it.

Go bold or go away. Those are your only options, Google.

Update: It’s not that Google doesn’t know how to do it. The video below was rated by Ace Metrix as the most effective ad of the year so far. More of this would go a long way for promoting Google+. (H/T: Urgo)

What do you think?

Avatar of JD Rucker

Written by JD Rucker

JD Rucker is Editor at Soshable, a Social Media Marketing Blog. He is a Christian, a husband, a father, and founder of both Judeo Christian Church and Dealer Authority. He drinks a lot of coffee, usually in the form of a 5-shot espresso over ice. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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