Who Google+ Should Have Invited to the “Field Trial”


Right now Google+ is in what they call the “field trial” phase. As you know, they have sent out invitations to a limited number of people to test out this new social media platform. But while this is a considered a testing period it is also technically a launch. And this launch has to be successful otherwise Google+ will go the way of other ineffective social networking sites like Friendster and Google Orkut.

Google Plus Logos

Almost no information regarding how Google selected invitees has been released, but we do know that Google randomly selected a group of testers, all of which have Gmail accounts. And we can guess that Google looked for accounts that had extensive contact lists. Instead of using a random group of people, Google should have selected a controlled group, specifically a controlled group of college students.

Free Time Changes Everything

To have a social networking site perform well, people have to spend time on it. Google should have taken into account how much time their invitees have for online social interactions. An ordinary adult with a full-time job doesn’t have lots of extra time for social networking. So if their social networking time is limited, they want to focus their social energy on only one site, namely Facebook, where all of their friends already play.

On the other hand, college students have a considerable amount more time to spend online than those with full-time jobs. To say that college students are constantly on social networking sites would be an understatement. As LunaMetrics’ copywriter/social media intern, I’m a college student myself. In my experience there is no time in which college students aren’t using Facebook (this unfortunately includes class). So if they have more time to spare, they are more likely to check out new social networking tools.

Follow Facebook’s Lead

When Facebook first started out it was for college students only and like Google+, by invitation only. Now it is available for anyone to use, but if Facebook had not been originally devoted to college students (a demographic that has an extensive amount of free time and in general, cares a great deal about the social networking) it might not have become the incredibly widespread success that it is today. With lots of free time on their side, the invited college students were able to discover all of Facebook’s cool features. From there, the invitees’ other friends wanted to jump on the Facebook bandwagon as well.

In order to properly compete with Facebook and Twitter, Google should have sent its Google+ invitations solely to college students if they wanted to increase the chance of Google+ becoming a social media success. As a company that has been socially unsuccessful in the past (ex: Google Buzz and Orkut) Google should have taken a cue from Facebook and controlled the demographics that received invitations to Google+.

Talia is a former LunaMetrician and contributor to our blog.

  • Talia-

    A couple of points-

    First, you seem to be assuming that Google+ wants to copy Facebook, rather than present a better alternative. I think that’s a faulty assumption.

    Second, you also seem to be assuming that college kids are the intended target market for Google+. I believe that’s your second faulty assumption.

    Finally, you appear to be writing from the outside looking in. I don’t find “Talia Steif” referenced anywhere within the Google+ community (although you could, of course, be using a different name), and you offer no commentary on what led you to arrive at the above assumptions. So as long as assumptions seem to be the order of the day, I think I’ll assume that you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

    At the end of the day, you’re offering baseless assumptions and judgements about something you apparently have no knowledge of.

    Hardly the way to arrive at the most effective marketing plan for a company, I’m afraid. 😉

  • sprezzatura

    This post is a classic example of Cargo Cult Thinking (imitating how other people do things in the hopes of reaping the same results).

  • Cargo cult… there’s a term I haven’t heard for over forty years! Apt, though!

  • Doug

    My understanding is that they placed Google employees on it and then added a select group of closed beta testers. When they launched they simply allow all the existing people to invite their friends and then limite that process when they needed to add server capacity. In other words you’re assumption is wrong. Essentially people most connected to Google got in first no matter their age or profession. At this point it appears that they’ve opened up the invites system to pretty much anyone. I’d recommend reading the article that wired put out on this and listening to the this week in google podcast before posting about G+ again 🙂

  • Robbin Steif

    OK, everyone. These are great comments. Sometimes, it is important to give new employees and summer people a chance to spread their wings, which is easiest to do when the topic is a matter of opinion (i.e. not GA code!) We’ll be doing some other posts on Plus in the very near future.

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