» The Influencers Verdict: the Google+ example

The Influencers Verdict: the Google+ example

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One of the top challenges of any service launching it to pass the influencers verdict. Look at Dan Reimold’s post (that I am discovering tonight because his post is on Techmeme) about the failure of Google+ “Worse than a Ghost town”.

So, here is the cycle:

-launch your service > if you’re lucky you will get (some) influencers, A list bloggers (not sure Dan is one of them), whatever you call them, write about it. In the case of Google+ EVERYBODY wrote about it, if it’s your startup, it’s more challenging.

-wait a few months > in most cases, the same influencers forgot about you and will never write again until you gain some real traction. In most cases, you never reach enough traction and just keep going as a errr…. ghost and mind you it might even make a very successful service. In some cases, like Google+, you will get obsessed users like Scoble and a few very loyal users, keep going.

-after your initial growth and success, you will generally go through a long, tough, painful no significant growth period, sometimes you will even get negative growth (read: active users declining). That’s when you need to hold tight, that’ the influencers verdict: will go through that moment and grow a loyal user base when all the influencers moved on

-if the influencers still pay attention (unlikely) like they’re doing for Google+ because it’s Google, they will trash you has Dan Reimold just did. And many others did the last two weeks. It’s like becoming fashionable to trash Google+ these days, just to be different, just because it will get eye balls, just because it’s cool to say Google will fail, again, on social.

That’s the “influencers verdict” moment. When the influencers start either not paying attention or trashing you. That’s when you are really testing your service against normal users because you have just completely reached 99.99% of the influencers and they wrote everything they could possibly write about Google+ so all there is left to them is to trash it.

Time will tell if Google+ will succeed, I am still getting incredible traction and interactions in it (thanks) so I don’t believe the influencers verdict, I was waiting for it to start to show up and it of course did.

It’s a great reminder on how to launch a new service: it’s not about the tech bloggers and writers, it’s about normal people and wether they will adopt it or not. Forget the influencers, the history is packed with services that succeeded when the influencers said it would fail and vice-versa.

No, Dan, your opinion doesn’t matter. It’s the other millions of users that matter, you might be right, but only time will tell. You’re trashing Google+ just because it will get you some attention today. update: it looks like you don’t even use Google+.

  • http://scobleizer.com Scobleizer

    Exactly right. Don’t watch what influencers say. Watch what they do. That’s far more insightful.

  • http://edwink.devhd.com Edwin Khodabakchian

    Great post Loic!

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur


  • http://about.me/oracio Oracio Alvarado

    Excellent post and spot on. 

  • http://twitter.com/Luxegen Joan Miller

    Good post.  I agree with you…it is early days.  This ‘non-influencer’ plans to be around for awhile.

    Google+ (and every other social media) is about connection and engagement.  Give, share and engage and there won’t be a ghost town.

  • http://twitter.com/Kraski777 B Kraski

    Dan’s post basically says, “I and my friends are so introverted that we’re uninteresting to ourselves and each other.  If Google plus were a prom, we’d be the wallflowers, too afraid to meet new and interesting people.”

    I tried Google+ because several friends and several influencers suggested it.  Being so different from other social media, there was a learning curve period.  Then I just decided to circle people just because they said something I liked.  I could always uncircle them if the comment wasn’t their usual.  I’ve now met a ton of people who have great thoughts or are just fun to talk to, an even larger group of fantastic photographers who continually blow my mind with the quality of their work.  And I wasn’t planning on following art or photography.  I still follow a couple of influencers.  But, most of the time, it’s the regular folks who make G+ interesting and fun.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bakerbates Jonathan Baker-Bates

    Forgive me if I’m being naive, but when you say “influencers” do you mean “people with big egos”? I ask because I’m unsure whether there’s any evidence that individuals beyond people’s immediate social circle (ie their friends) influence people to do things online. Musicians are a possible exception I suppose.

  • Anonymous

    Funny how.. I started out with a circle of like 4-5 people.  Then I met a few influential people, took a chance to get to know them.. and now, my circles are huge.  Why?  Because I decided to make use of the system rather than just experience it.  Like all things, you get what you give.

    I don’t regret giving Facebook the farewell wave and moving solely to G+. 

  • Technogran -

    I agree with Joan, you have to interact on Google +, comment on others posts, add all those who interest you to your circles, I even add folks who have commented on someone else’s post. Then Google + becomes a rich haven of learning from others such as Photographers, writers, artists etc. Do a search for others using your interests! Interact with every one who’s posts you find interesting to read, don’t just join and then sit back!

  • http://www.betterprojects.net Craig Brown

    Shouldn’t there be a +1 button on this blog post?

  • http://nicole-simon.eu nicolesimon

    on. It might be worth adding that as far as G+ goes there is something
    else to observe: they only have released a minimum of an api; and that
    is probably more of a ‘we have something in the making too!!!” thing.
    F8 will deliver new content and I assume G+ wished they did not call it
    beta start but alpha, because they are not evolving fast enough.

    If this would be any company it would be excusable but not with
    somebody like google. The part which is still hidden and which will
    have a completly different impact for normal people is the interaction
    with search and businesses. Again not ‘influencer stuff’ but as you
    correctly pointed out: Normal people. There is an integration looming
    in the future the normal people will not be able to escape and in this
    is does not matter if people do or do not like g+ for now, they will
    have to use it / be made using it.


  • Anonymous

    Totally agree with this post. Remain me in early days when Jon Postel wrote some RFC, and let users decide what’s the best solution. 

  • http://twitter.com/MegaCrap Megha Mansharamani

    No offence, but you’re no one to ask who is anyone to have an opinion. Everyone’s allowed to have one, and voice it without thrashing people. Just a suggestion- try “I disagree with..”.

  • http://kosso.co.uk kosso

    Dan’s post is utter linkbait. As is this one.

  • http://twitter.com/jilm David Antoš

    Loic. Who are you, in fact?

  • http://borasky-research.net/about-data-journalism-developer-studio-pricing-survey/ M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

    The problem I had with Google+ (I joined a couple days after it went beta and left a week and a half later) is that there wasn’t anybody there *except* influencers! Hell, people I invited couldn’t get in! My time is simply too valuable to use a “service” with no explicit value proposition. 

    I’m getting smarter – I gave Facebook a whole year before figuring out it wasn’t providing me anything I couldn’t get elsewhere. Curated.by lasted a bit longer, but I’ve cast it aside. Quora, Namesake … ancient history. Paper.li was spamming. Qwiki was boring. Storify was too much work. Google+ – time consuming with no apparent payoff.

    I don’t care *who* you are – Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Oracle, HP, Seesmic, Rackspace, some Y-Combinator “lean startup” that’s “pivoting” and “discovering customers”, whatever. Before I give you my email address and “join your community” I want to know what it is you’re *selling* and to whom, what problem you are solving for *me*, and how much it will cost me in money and time. Google has utterly failed to provide me with that information for Google+.

  • http://www.motmaitre.com/search/label/Blog%20Posts Motmaitre

    “Forget the influencers”

    I think you may be forgetting why they are called influencers in the first place. It’s because they influence the attitudes (and thus adoption behaviors) of the rest of the market. If they have no influence, then why call them influencers? And if they do have influence, then their verdict is significant in determining the fate of a product.

  • http://www.facebook.com/myclump Rohit Harshvardhan

    1. Well I am a very normal person. Initially when G+ came a lot of my friend showed up on it(very normal people.Not techi). I though that it might go somewhere. Now after a few month when I check my friends circle there is just 1 post on it. It is like everyone joined but kept using Facebook. Google needs to make it compelling to use G+.

    2. My girlfriend is in college. I had shown her G+ when it came out and she though that she might be able to use it for some college related interaction. She tried it but the response was bad. No one posted. So that was a failure.

    3. I told my mom about it and she was just puzzled. She just got into Facebook and she is not ready to get into anything else.

    4. I feel awkward in G+. It does not replace Twitter for me.I use Twitter as short attention span medium where I dont have to read much. I get links out of it. I mark stuff as favorite . What I dont want is a big discussion at a location where I am looking for quick bites. If I find something interesting then Twitter forwards me to a link there discussion is going on….like this article. G+ does not do that. And because of above three reason it cannot substitute Facebook

    The problem with G+ is that it is too late to be a Facebook and it does not offer what Twitter has to offer. But I do hope they are able to convince users with anew identity as it does have some good things going for it.

  • sje397

    It’s an identity service. We are not the customers. 

    They think they can use their clout to hijack internet culture with this ‘real names’ policy. That’s *my* culture and I find this action offensive, even if ineffective.

    We never expected Facebook to live by the ‘don’t be evil’ motto. I expected more from Google.

  • Jürgen Erhard

    Spot on.  How about “wannabe influencers”.  There are people (very, *very* few) who have an actual measurable impact on “the masses” when they say “this is cool, check it out”. But most so-called influencers aren’t.  They wish they were, and they try to get advertisers to believe it (hah!), but other than that…

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    oh Kosso so good to have news from you!

  • Jürgen Erhard

    They are called influencers because people wish there were influencers (for different reasons depending on the group doing the wishing).

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    I am not sure :-)

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    I’m not sure David :-)

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    you are totally right Megha, I was a little tired yesterday and his post upset me, I did not have to add the stupid “who are you” etc. That’s me, too spontaneous. Good suggestion. 

  • http://kosso.co.uk kosso

    lol ;)

    Actually this article by you is much better than Dan’s. I’ve seen a few like his, which just say Plus is dead, without them actually trying hard enough to engage and use it. 

    It’s early days. And Plus still falls short of what users want. Personally, I really want to see a list of posts *within* PLus (not the external links list on the profile) that I have ‘Plussed’. 

    I’m happy to see step one for their API, but half sad to not have a ‘post’/write API yet (as I’m sure you would like too, for the Seesmic apps) – but I can ssee why they are holding that  back for now : spam and bots. By ‘owning’ the posting mechanism for now, they are ensuring that there’s a human being (or a possible mechanical turk) creating and sharing the content. 

    Apologies for the terseness of the previous comment. I hadn’t had my coffee. I have now, therefore all is now good in the world. ;)

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    thanks Nicole, and it’s a mistake many startups make (I made it many times), they focus too much on the tech echochamber

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    thanks Nicole, and it’s a mistake many startups make (I made it many times), they focus too much on the tech echochamber

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    yes, I need to revamp that template a little

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Bell/100001788867831 Mike Bell

    Google+ is crap plus it”s owned by the Big Brother Google. I used to think that Facebook has draconian ruless but that’s nothing after seeing how Google’s handling their site.

    Screw Google, screw Google+! Don’t give that monstrosity of a corporation even more of your private information!

    RIP Google+.

  • http://borasky-research.net/about-data-journalism-developer-studio-pricing-survey/ M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

    Exactly! We are not the customers and they aren’t saying who the customer *is*. They’ve provided no value proposition. They haven’t asked for the sale.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dpoeter Damon Poeter

    That’s an interesting chart at the top of this post. Is there any data behind it?

  • Arianna

    What a great rant! Keep it up. More like this. Bravo!!

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur


  • http://desertstandard.com halfacat

    My only issue with Google+ is that I use Google Apps on my domain and I cannot use that account for my Google+ account. Same issue with Youtube and other Google services that still treat Google’s paying customers worse than their non-paying customers. It is easier for me to have one tab open with my Google Apps Email going and then another tab with Facebook than having to open a separate browser so I can login to my Gmail/Google+ account.
    Until this changes I wont use Google+, which is insane because I am logged into Google all day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bakerbates Jonathan Baker-Bates

    Can you provide some evidence that such influencers actually exist? I know of one study that suggests they don’t: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/12/science/with-e-mail-it-s-not-easy-to-navigate-6-degrees-of-separation.html

    But that’s just one study. However, it stands to reason that if a provable link could be made, then advertising agencies would presumably have a far higher success rate than they do.

  • http://www.motmaitre.com/search/label/Blog%20Posts Motmaitre

    I don’t think you understand what exactly influencers are, sir. The study you link to has nothing whatsoever to do with Influencers. It is about 6 degrees of separation.

    Influencers are the few people who well, influence the many to buy/not buy a product. These include say, movie critics, influential bloggers, trend-setters, socially connected people, etc. If you’re actually debating whether these exist, I fear you may not be from Planet earth because it has been known forever that word of mouth is the number one influencer of purchase decisions (people ask friends and family before choosing movies, hotels, cellphones, kids’ schools- basically, everything). And the first people to use a product start the word of mouth chain. That’s why influencers are usually early adopters (though not all early adopters are influencers).

  • Anonymous

    Well, it’s not surprising that Google+ would look a little barren if you only follow 28 people.

  • http://twitter.com/Damdam Damien Guinet

    Funny. You may know that a lot of people still have never heard of Google+. If one of them finds and reads this post, I’m pretty sure he won’t take attention to the “+” and might think that the whole article is on the uncertain success of Google, pending on the influencers thoughts. “Wow, those guys fly high!!!”

  • http://twitter.com/Damdam Damien Guinet

    Funny. You may know that a lot of people still have never heard of Google+. If one of them finds and reads this post, I’m pretty sure he won’t take attention to the “+” and might think that the whole article is on the uncertain success of Google, pending on the influencers thoughts. “Wow, those guys fly high!!!”

  • http://twitter.com/lilzeon Laurent Francois

    I don’t think you can generalize what is happening on Google Plus and how innovation “spreads”. On Google Plus, it’s not only “influential people”, it also concerns curious people like me. We keep undoing things on Google + but we may keep watching on what’s going on thus.

    In other areas, it can widely spread without the first “influencers’ ” step: for instance on Chatroulette or even Tumblr. They bypassed historical schemes.

  • Michelle Blanc

    In my opinion Google + is more an open door to all Google Services and to cloud computing than a per se, social media. That is where the main interest of consumers and corporations will developp. But as you way, the future will tell

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    He follows 28? LoL!!!

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/ Loic Le Meur

    Good point Michelle

  • http://www.tobiasbray.com Tobias Bray

    Google has a challenge – They need to expand their world view to include more people on the outside. Google’s core culture is B2B and while Social Business may eclipse Social Media, it is people-oriented. There is no doubt that Google employs the best or the best, the question is whether all that logic can relate to people.

  • Guest

    Just turn on multiple account support for your Google services. I have my corporate account, personal apps account, and personal Gmail account all running in the same browser. Most Google services (at least Gmail and Google+) are multiple account enabled.

  • http://desertstandard.com halfacat

    unfortunately that means i have to log out of my apps profile in order to access Google+ whereas I can stay logged into apps and also log into FB.

  • Ttt


  • http://www.douglascrets.com Douglas Crets

    Let me put it more simply for you, Loic.   

    This is why the best time to arrive at the party is 3 am.