Who Google+ Should Have Invited To The “Field Trial”

July 06, 2011
By Talia Steif

Right now Google+ is in what they call the “field trial” phase. As you know, they have sent out invitations to a limited number of people to test out this new social media platform. But while this is a considered a testing period it is also technically a launch. And this launch has to be successful otherwise Google+ will go the way of other ineffective social networking sites like Friendster and Google Orkut.

Google Plus Logos

Almost no information regarding how Google selected invitees has been released, but we do know that Google randomly selected a group of testers, all of which have Gmail accounts. And we can guess that Google looked for accounts that had extensive contact lists. Instead of using a random group of people, Google should have selected a controlled group, specifically a controlled group of college students.

Free Time Changes Everything

To have a social networking site perform well, people have to spend time on it. Google should have taken into account how much time their invitees have for online social interactions. An ordinary adult with a full-time job doesn’t have lots of extra time for social networking. So if their social networking time is limited, they want to focus their social energy on only one site, namely Facebook, where all of their friends already play.

On the other hand, college students have a considerable amount more time to spend online than those with full-time jobs. To say that college students are constantly on social networking sites would be an understatement. As LunaMetrics’ copywriter/social media intern, I’m a college student myself. In my experience there is no time in which college students aren’t using Facebook (this unfortunately includes class). So if they have more time to spare, they are more likely to check out new social networking tools.

Follow Facebook’s Lead

When Facebook first started out it was for college students only and like Google+, by invitation only. Now it is available for anyone to use, but if Facebook had not been originally devoted to college students (a demographic that has an extensive amount of free time and in general, cares a great deal about the social networking) it might not have become the incredibly widespread success that it is today. With lots of free time on their side, the invited college students were able to discover all of Facebook’s cool features. From there, the invitees’ other friends wanted to jump on the Facebook bandwagon as well.

In order to properly compete with Facebook and Twitter, Google should have sent its Google+ invitations solely to college students if they wanted to increase the chance of Google+ becoming a social media success. As a company that has been socially unsuccessful in the past (ex: Google Buzz and Orkut) Google should have taken a cue from Facebook and controlled the demographics that received invitations to Google+.