by Ross Trumble –Digital Revolution
Yesterday, Mashable published an eye opening piece on the huge disparity between male and female users of Google+. The theory given for this development was that “with around 60% of users identifying themselves as web developers or software engineers, that paints a fairly stereotypical picture of Google+’s userbase: nerdy guys who have deep understandings of technology and who don’t mind killing some time setting up Circles of friends.”
I won’t pretend to have some kind of answer to this confounding demographic, but I will say that it needs to change quickly for G+ to be adopted by the audience they seek. If the numbers of self-indentified “geeks” comprising the majority of users on this burgeoning social network hold steady, G+ is not going to compete with Facebook, or even Twitter for that matter.
That also begs the question, what is Google+’s end goal? Do they want to siphon off some of Facebook’s vast empire of consumer and business traffic? Are they trying to be something completely different or do they not even know yet? The undefined business model completely blew up in their face the last time around with Buzz and ended in lawsuits, so let’s hope they’ve learned their lesson. Let’s face it, as much as online marketers will try to tell prospective business clients that “Social Media is still in its infant stages,” it’s really not. The players have been well established and Google isn’t one of them, unless you count YouTube, which could more accurately be described as a search engine.
Currently, I’d say I’m in the “monitoring” phase of Google+ and so far I don’t see a whole lot that compels me as a personal or a business user. Business use is mostly an invention of the user at this point because Google+ has freely admitted that they have no immediate plans for how that will work. I’ve broken down my own demographics and they are spot on with the 3-1 ratio of men to women. However, I wouldn’t put many of those in my “Circles” (Google+ term) in the geek category, so Mashable’s theory isn’t necessarily supported by my personal observations.
Besides not supporting business or consumer use , since Google+ neither has a plan for businesses nor very many women (who buy more stuff online), the gender gap poses another glaring challenge. Simply, men are looking for women to talk to online. One thing Twitter and Facebook can be counted on is a place to flirt with women without the humiliation of online dating sites. There’s no real mystery there. Without that dynamic, which Google+ is clearly lacking, there’s not a very bright future for social “interactions” and then what’s left?
It would be unfair to give Google+ a passing or failing grade at this point, but their challenges are already very clear and they are massive. One thing that can be said in their favor is that this social network, whatever it turns out to be, is off to a much better start than Buzz. If they can lure a lot more ladies to visit with us guys, they might just have a shot at pulling users away from Facebook and Twitter after all. One thing is for sure, it won’t happen without a fight.