Why Google+ is like FarmVille: Will it take off with younger users?

Summary:Maybe I picked a bad day to immerse myself in Google+, but Google is once again punching above its weight by launching (yet another) social network.

I have heard absolutely zero from my friends, student colleagues and my Generation Y counterparts about Google+.

There are three things that the vast majority of Generation Y users of Google's services use.

The first is obviously search, and other search related features like Google Scholar; the saviour of students everywhere. The second is mail for which Gmail, along with Google Apps provides a relatively robust platform for free email. The third, and often overlooked, is an account for accessing other services like Google's inclusive products and other sites around the web.

Google+ is the new social network aimed at seemingly younger people -- based on the "hip and happening" goings on of lustrously blonde figureheads and notions of places to "hangout" to draw us in.

Or is it "Google Plus"? I'm not even sure how to write it. At least it hasn't fallen within the faux pas parameters of technological mishaps by having an ambiguously sounding name -- like Cuil (pronounced "Cool") or even Office 365 (pronounced "Office three-sixty-five").

The problem is, with Facebook having over 750 million users, who needs another social network?

The prospect of having to set up a new social network with new friends -- or old friends with a new Google account, and transferring all of my photos, events, calendars, and the rest of it -- is daunting enough as it is.

But Google seemed to forget the intrinsic problem with social networks. You need people using it for it to be "social". At the moment, I only have a few colleagues, no way of inviting my friends, and a social network without friends is pretty anti-social.

It's FarmVille all over again. Google+ is like FarmVille.

I can see the advantages of schools, colleges and universities who all have Gmail access through their Google Apps for Education service, to connect with other users in a pseudo-college union bar or a virtual fraternity house on Google+.

But the language used in describing some of the features remains mostly ambiguous. I have no idea what "Sparks" is, or how "Circles" will somehow make my life easier. Frankly, I don't have the time, the energy or the inclination to learn.

This major factor for prospective Google+ users of the Generation Y is that you have to learn to use yet another service. It doesn't come naturally, as many are still getting used to the new layout and redesign of Google's other sites -- which for the record, has a strangely Bing feel to it.

Maybe Google+ caught me on a bad day. But one thing is for sure; I will try it out over the weekend and see how it plays out.

But with Facebook's looming announcement, set to have each and every one of its users collapsing and fainting in awe at the thought of "a brand new feature" -- or whatever it is -- Google may have picked a duff week to launch its own competing social network.

Who knows? This could be the best thing sliced bread. It just takes some adjustment from the Stockholm syndrome that Facebook dishes out, to overcome the on-going post-traumatic stress of a new social captor.

Related content:

Topics: Collaboration, Google, Networking, Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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