While adding yet another reply to an already long G+ thread regarding Twitter and Facebook, I realized something oddly profound…the people reading it are exactly the opposite of the people who would have read it on Twitter. The original post was made public by Scott Hanselman, but the interesting replies came from some of his many followers. In the Twitterverse, Scott’s other followers probably wouldn’t have seen our comments unless they also followed us, Scott re-tweeted, or they went out of their way to dig deeper into his replies to us (if he ever makes any). By contrast, in Google+ the only people seeing these replies are people who have commented on that thread already or possibly reading it for the first time. Despite the original post being completely public, the visibility of comments is very poor, relegating comments to lower value.
The subtle shift Google made was to turn Twitter conversations from being a mash of unconnected messages into coherent and topical threads (more like they are on Facebook). The dynamic becomes different because a great comment is not easy to see, even as a follower of the person who made the comment. This paradigm that made Twitter work for so many people falls apart when their own followers can’t get at everything. In this, we find the reason Google+ can never truly replace Twitter.
The version of Google+ we see today is lacking the one thing that makes Twitter useful, Discovery.
Most content creators on the internet rely heavily on their traffic; either for profit, inspiration, or simply an ego boost. Without a the ability to add new readers/followers, the ability to expand your audience is woefully lacking. Equally, once you have an audience, the inability to feed them content also curtails the ability to keep them coming back. With the design of Google+ as it stands, the only way most people can earn their soap box is to be compelling in both comments so they can attract followers, and then produce their own content for their new readers without relying on their followers to see most of their comments in the future. Perhaps this was Google’s goal from the start, to pull the truly personal aspect away from Twitter while allowing the real qualities of Twitter to shine through for the more serious posters. No matter the case, the next thing Google should do is make public comments more discoverable and more visible for followers.
In the mean time, Twitter isn’t going to lose it’s base…it might even benefit by losing some of the crowd that did little more than tell us what they had for breakfast.