It has been eight weeks since I entered the world of Google+ and now it is time to reflect on progress.

I'm not the first to write about this; in fact some people were writing about it only two weeks into the game but I thought I would let it run a little longer.

Initially everyone makes comparisons to Facebook or Twitter and you can see why -- the interface is visually similar but a cleaner version of FB.  When you post something in Google+ you chose who sees it, therefore it is a mix of FB and Twitter; posts can be to the select few (as per FB) or the world (as per Twitter).

To be honest it is not much more than that -- Google have pulled all the best bits of Twitter, Facebook and blogging techniques into one product.  You can then choose how you use it.

When it was first announced with the 'invite only' tag there was of course the mass hysteria and everyone wanted an invitation.  I myself used all my contact to score an invitation and was quickly part of the in crowd.  When I did get in I was surprised to learn that there seemed no limit to the number of people I could invite so I set about creating my Google Circles.

The obvious targets were my current friends and acquaintances on Facebook and Twitter.  That was mostly a flop!  Maybe a handful had any interest in it and most decided to stick with what they know and would move if everyone else did.  Fair enough; many people are followers and only some are leaders.

Next I started offering invites to anyone who wanted one on Twitter.  I figured it would be a great way to grow my circles and interact with new people.  Over the following 48 hours I sent out just over 120 invites and each of these people appeared to sign up.  Of those, about 100 added me to their circles.

I started posting on G+.  A mix of posts -- opinions on world news, personal ramblings, techie stuff, and stories from this blog.  I wanted to try to offer a medley of stories.   Eight weeks on I can count on one hand the people in my circles who contribute regularly on G+ (or at least post them in such a way that I can read them).  Interest seems to have peaked and is now on the decline.  Those people who regularly post seem to fall into three groups -- random posters like myself; those who only share YouTube/Images; bloggers.

Are Google to blame for this?  Well, I think partially they are.  There is nothing inherently different or unique in Google+.  The one aspect I was keen on was security (and who sees your posts) but Facebook have since come along and enhanced their service to mimic that of G+ -- I can now decide who sees each of my FB posts.  FB clearly saw the threat from Google and moved very quickly.

In addition there have been very few changes to the product.  In eight weeks one would have expected something new to excite me -- along with most other people it would seem my attention span is short.

Google have an interesting policy on your profile and much has been written about it (here is one story).  In summary they are actively enforcing 'real profiles'; you must use your real name and anyone who appears to be fake is removed very quickly.   They currently do not allow 'brands' or Companies but are actively developing a specific setup for them.

I believe the key to any Social Network service is its mobile offering -- users need to be able to interact effectively when on the road; it's the only way to keep momentum going.  Google+ is available on a small number of mobile platforms; each is different and supports a subset of the full web clients -- some of the key aspects to allow you to effectively work on G+ while mobile are missing which causes frustration and interest fades quickly.

On a side note, and one that I find to be a staggering fail, is the inability to search for Google+ content.  A few weeks ago I wanted to find something I had previously written in my Google+ stream.  Amazingly there is no way to do this within the interface.  Come one Google, your whole world is based on searching.  I had to go to google.com and give it enough criteria to only search Google+, for post from me only, and then my specific words.  Way too many hoops to jump through.  Yes, I know a few sites (and hacks) to do it a little more simply, but surely the Google folks should have placed this in the very interface I am using!!

I'm sticking at Google+ for now, but a genuinely think they need to up their game -- the pace of change from user feedback needs to be more evident and they desperately need a USP (unique selling point).  Let's not forget the product still has the 'beta' tag so it is a work in progress.  What concerns me is the 'Wave' affect!  Google trumpeted Google Wave as the new way to communicate with friends and groups.  It never made it beyond beta stage; saw very little active development from Google after launch and was then canned after a short period.

What do you think?  Comment below with your own thoughts.

Let's come back in another eight weeks and share the Google+ love :-)

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