I've been using Google+ now for about 3-4 weeks. In addition, I've read countless articles and blog posts of opinions on the functionality, usage/traffic fluctuations, and so on and so forth. In fact, the buzz around the wave of people trying Google+ has been so great that Mashable finally had something to write about besides Apple.
Well, I am by no means an expert in all that Google+ has to offer, but I've been on it as a regular user (as opposed to social media professional) long enough to be able to offer three reasons why it will fail to take off with mainstream users.
1. It doesn't fill a need. Granted, people who are paid to talk about social media tout some of Google+'s new features, such as enhanced video chat (hangouts) and of course, circles. However, when you examine how the vast majority of people use social media, it's to keep in touch with other people in a fairly simple, non-intrusive way. (A lot of people share TMI in their status updates, but very few are doing so over a webcam via Skype to whole groups of people.)
The real issue here is that while many people complain about Facebook, the complaints aren't usually about what Facebook lacks in functionality. It's about privacy concerns or constant changes. And believe me, THAT'S not going to be better with Google+. Probably worse, in some ways, especially your private data and online habits.
2. It's actually creating MORE work. I'm not just talking about now taking the time to check yet another social media site (which is bad enough). I personally use LinkedIn for professional contacts, Facebook for personal contacts, and Twitter for education, networking, resource gathering, etc. And in my experience, I'm not alone in that differentiation. Google+ was touted by many as the solution to using multiple sites for managing your social circles by creating, well, circles. But filtering through what I want to see from people I follow on Twitter is easier (for me, at least) on Twitter than on Google+, especially since tweets are so compact and there aren't a bunch of comments after them. LinkedIn's tools are very well designed for creating my professional profile and building my network, and nothing Google+ has will do that better (or in my opinion, even as well, at least for now). And not nearly enough of my friends have moved from Facebook to Google+ to make it a good way to connect there. In fact, only 3 of my Facebook friends have made it to Google+ and into one of my circles.
So, managing my connections in Google+ actually takes more work (or doesn't get the job done at all) in one site than it takes to use the three I'm already on.
3. Lack of momentum hurt them. OK, this one seems almost preposterous to say, given how fast they hit 10 million users. But here's the thing. I think in order to have really taken off, they needed to open it up to everyone right away, so that as people created profiles and started filling circles, their friends were THERE. As I indicated before, I have only three actual friends in circles on Google+ (of the 150 or more I have on Facebook), and no family members. Remember, this is not some startup with a niche social media site that would have been blown out of the water by having 10 million users the first year (let alone the first 2 weeks). This is GOOGLE, for crying out loud, and they're trying to create a major social presence. But 'social' won't happen if your friends and connections aren't on the site to be social with.
Yes, I know the risks of opening it up to everyone, but I maintain that would have been the better way to go. Have a small beta group for testing, then open it up all at once, like most new sites do. Worried about server capacity? understandable. But I think there must have been a better solution than being so restrictive about access for weeks.
I'm certain not everyone agrees with me, and even I have doubts as to whether or not I'm right about this. But my intuition tells me that Google+, in the long run, will not be the major social media presence it was supposed to be. But who knows. Maybe a year from now I'll be writing a post with the three reasons that Google+ succeeded.