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As Google+ Gets Going, Confusion from the Marketplace [Updated]

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google-plus-image

Google's social network launched a few weeks ago and has since been excitedly adopted by a large, yet limited (as in over 18 million), number of invited people. And as with Facebook, Twitter and other major social networks, brands want to jump on board, but have been asked to hold back until that feature rolls out.

Many have not listened, but so be it, right?

NPR News, like many other brands, decided to nonetheless take a risk

There may not be Google Labs or beta branding on Google+, but this is a beta test, or as the company calls it, a Field Trial: "you may find some rough edges, and the project is by invitation only," the company said in a blog post introducing the product.

One of those rough edges hit a tipping point of sorts today.

Despite Google's request, many entities went ahead and made a Google+ account, which has caused a rift. On one side, some businesses that took a risk are seeing huge numbers of followers and traffic. On the other side are those who have followed Google's request, patiently waiting for the official roll-out.

That situation got real interesting today:

ABC News Radio's Digital Platform Manager Dan Patterson

It was shared by Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing, which took its account down voluntarily:

xeni-jardin-google-plus

That generated a slew of responses, many that agreed over the confusion. Google's DeWitt Clinton, a software engineer, chimed in with some perspective:

dewitt-clinton-google-plus

And Xeni responded:

xeni-jardin-responds

Much of the confusion, including mine, has been over Mashable News, which already has over 75,000 followers. Why haven't they been nixed, too, people asked. Some said Mashable was an official Google+ brand tester, but then Mashable News' Community Manager Meghan Peters jumped in to help clarify, even commiserating:

mashable-news-google-plus

Not too long after, Xeni started a new comment thread directed toward Google employees:

xeni-google-plus-2

Perhaps what's been most confusing is that Google has been actively promoting Mashable on Twitter. Of the 40 tweets since its launch, the Google+ Twitter account has given 14 links to Mashable. Here are three subsequent ones from the weekend:

twitter-google-plus-mashable2

Each of those links leads to a Mashable post, in which the first line promotes following Mashable News on Google+.

It's this very kind of cycle that confusing, but also a source of frustration. But what's really at issue here is the lack of messaging from Google itself. They did warn us there would be rough edges, but it seems everyone wants some clear playground rules to abide by.

I've reached out to Google and am awaiting a response.

In the meantime, Google+ for me has been enjoyable and I look forward to what comes down the road, even if bumpy at times. I especially await a release of an API so companies like Storify can make posts like this a bit easier on my wrists.

Update #1: I just checked Mashable's Google+ page and it said "Profile not found."

Update #2: Per Xeni Jardin, it's back. I still have not heard from Google.

Update #3: Google and Mashable spoke. From Pete Cashmore:

pete-cashmore-google-plus-mashable

For the record: The original post stated that Google canceled Boing Boing's account. In fact, Boing Boing took it down voluntarily.


Did I miss any points important to you? Let us know in the comment section... or, I guess, on Google+.

About: The Public Note is a media blog, with an eye towards public media, from KCET-TV in Southern California. This post is its "Field Trial."

The photo used on this post is by Flickr user timubial. It was used under a Creative Commons License.

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