Celebrity marketer Gary Vaynerchuk is “almost willing to predict” Google will close its social network, Google Plus, within three years.
Why? Because G+ (as loyalists call it) “isn’t working”.
Is GaryVee right? Well, he’s certainly right that it isn’t working for him. We’ll discuss why in a moment.
He’s also “right” in his “almost prediction”. When you almost predict something, and that something happens, you look like a prophet. If it doesn’t happen, then your wise foresight (in hedging your bet) also makes you look like a prophet. You win either way.
Will G+ close? Don’t ask me! How would I know? I’m gambling it won’t — but gambling on something, and predicting it, are two different things.
A Social-Media Failure
Here’s what we know: At social media, generally, GaryVee is a failure. At G+ specifically, he’s a catastrophic failure — a scandalous, embarrassing, crash-and-burn failure.
He knows it, too! That’s what he means when he says G+ “isn’t working”. Since it works great for millions of other users — but not for him — he wants Google to close it. Maybe if enough voices echo his “almost prediction”, Google will take the hint.
Please don’t misunderstand! GaryVee is a huge success at online marketing. He’s a YouTube celebrity. He’s a business blogger. He’s a powerhouse creator of content with a massive following that includes me.
His stuff, in my view, is mostly fine, and sometimes fabulous. I admire his instinct to go against the grain, to debunk conventional wisdom. He’s frank and funny. He has his opinions, and he puts them out there.
Therein lies my point: GaryVee puts stuff out there — and that’s it. He broadcasts. Having put stuff out, he follows up by putting out more stuff. Educational? Sure! Entertaining? Sure! But it sure isn’t a conversation. It isn’t social.
To his credit, GaryVee does accept and answer audience questions. His YouTube show is called “AskGaryVee”. Those questions provide fodder for his broadcasts. He uses them, though, only to make pronouncements, not to engage in conversation.
That’s why he’s big on YouTube and Twitter. These are broadcasting outlets — not truly social media. Facebook? Well, that’s a social platform, but being all about marketing, it’s highly amenable to broadcasting. (I’m curious how much GaryVee spends on Facebook ads and “Promoted Posts”.)
G+ is different. Google has structured G+ primarily as a social platform. It’s therefore tough to succeed on G+ if all you ever do is broadcast your own stuff. G+ is designed for two-way conversations and reciprocal sharing. You know, the stuff GaryVee can’t abide, or maybe just doesn’t have time for.
The Gary Vanyerchuk Difference
Visit his G+ page and see what I mean.
Recognizing his fame, Google long ago placed GaryVee on its Suggested User List. This alone guarantees anyone a huge following. GaryVee’s follower count is just over 2 million. You can see that number right under his profile picture.
It’s right beside his “views” count — just over 6 million. Now do the math: 6 / 2 = 3. His views-to-followers (V2F) ratio is three. That’s right — three!
That’s by far the most pathetic V2F ratio I’ve ever bothered to calculate. For a famous, widely followed creator of decent content, it’s worse than pathetic: It’s humiliating. No wonder GaryVee will rejoice when and if Google shuts down this venue where he’s such a bust.
Hey, my own V2F ratio is pretty lame. It’s currently 27 — up from 19 a few weeks ago. (I have hopeful plans to boost it further; stay tuned.) Mine hardly compares to the ratios of Dustin W. Stout (785), Mark Traphagen (255), Richard Green (195), Debashish Samaddar (132), and many other G+ users.
They also crush GaryVee in other engagement metrics, such as comments, reshares, and plusses per post and per follower. (A “plus” is the Google equivalent of a Facebook “like”.)
What all these G+ successes share is a propensity to engage. They interact with their readers and viewers. They converse. They exchange comments. They reshare and promote good posts by other users whose interests line up with theirs.
Contrast this with GaryVee’s page. There, it’s all him, him, him. A few months ago, it was mostly plugs for his social-media book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Now it’s all plugs for his YouTube vids, blog posts on Medium, and the like.
Do follow GaryVee if you like. Just don’t expect him to follow you back. You can give his G+ post a plus. Just don’t expect him to plus any of yours. Comment on his post? By all means. Just don’t expect any comment from him on one of your posts, or even his reply to your comment on his own post!
Would you like to share and promote his content? No problem! In GaryVee’s worldview, that’s why you exist. Just don’t expect reciprocity.
The Google Plus Difference
There are “social” platforms where jabbing and right-hooking will make you a smash success. Google Plus is not one of them. G+ is a social network where one succeeds by, of all things, socializing. Google set it up that way. It continually fine-tunes the G+ software to keep it that way.
That’s why folks like GaryVee dislike G+. (He’s not the only one.) They don’t “get” it. So they spread rumors that it’s “walking dead”, a “ghost town” on “life support”. They say the development team has been put out to pasture — something you’d never guess from the strings of interface upgrades we keep seeing!
GaryVee claims to ignore his competition. He can’t be blind, however, to the way many of his online-marketing competitors thrive on G+. Were Google to kill it, they’d deliver, on his behalf, a right hook to his competition that he’s so studiously ignoring.
So yes: Gary Vaynerchuk is a huge success at online marketing. But not at social networking, to the extent that this entails actual socializing. I’ve seen no evidence he even understands what that means.
For all these reasons, I’m “almost willing to predict” that GaryVee will never enjoy a significant presence on Google Plus. Maybe he’ll come around, but I doubt it. Here’s hoping I’m wrong!