Either Google has a long way to go before its servers can handle the demands placed on them by their Google+ social networking service, or they’re employing a very deliberate tactic of exclusivity in wheeling out invites to their latest attempt to challenge Facebook’s dominance in the social media space. Given that it’s Google we’re talking about here, and not some green behind the ears startup, it’s likely to be the latter.
Although Google’s decision to suspend invites to Google+ mere hours after it was launched due to what they termed “insane demand” is virtually guaranteed to be a marketing ploy, it seems to be working. The Internet has been awash with fevered pleas for invites, with some even resorting to buying invites on eBay.
Even seasoned tech journalists have resorted to writing grovelling open-letters to the search engine giant, in a vain effort to avoid being left out in the cold.
Google has played this one masterfully. Just two days ago, all the talk online was how much of a fool’s errand Google’s latest foray in social media represented. Now, the golden ticket metaphor has been bandied about to such a degree that Willy Wonka is bound to have been trending at some stage.
Facebook must feel like an algae-covered, bathtub-sized swimming pool, abandoned for the summer as all the neighbourhood children flock to the Jones’ new pool, replete with fun slide and jacuzzi. Now people are suddenly wondering if Google can “myspace” Facebook.
That remains highly unlikely, but the events of the past couple of days do show how fickle our digital influencers can be, and Facebook will need to stay on top of their game if the wish to remain at the head of the pack, as there is clearly no loyalty in the world of social networks, although this is something that Mark Zuckerberg is no doubt aware of.
The real loser in all of this is likely to be diaspora. About a year ago, the privacy-centric social network which allowed users to create “aspects” to control which of their contacts they shared content with, announced its imminent arrival amid much hype. While Google are certainly likely to be more cavalier with users’ personal details than diaspora*, they have nonetheless stolen a march on them by launching while diaspora* remains in alpha. For those who have been looking to jump ship from Facebook, and there are many, Google+ looks set to be their first port of call.
Whether enough leave to make Google+ the predominant social network remains to be seen, but for now one Google+ invite is carrying about as much social weight as 1,000 Facebook friends, and that’s not a bad start.