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Let me describe my first experience with Google+.

It sucked. I couldn’t even add my girlfriend who had also been invited to the beta and created her account 20 minutes before me. I poked around a little. Circles is a neat idea. Lots of white and not a ton of structure guiding me to something…anything.

I was on my iPad and I started to wonder if it was a limited interface and whether I would need to log in to an actual computer to get the full experience.

My girlfriend asked “what is it for?” and I answered “it’s like Facebook”. She then asked “why do I need another account like Facebook?”

As it turns out, good question.

Later, I added a couple more friends. Posts started popping up. Same as Facebook. I could import my Google address book which I never use. Google apps and GMail are close by. Nothing inspiring yet.

I started wondering why I was wasting my time here, with an inferior user interface where only a fraction of my friends would be. I lost interest and went on to other things.

Fast forward a month and a half. Nothing has changed for me. I’m still unimpressed with Google+ and now the reports are coming in saying a lot of people had a similar experience as I did. Tried it out and went on to other things. Kind of like Twitter for a lot of people.

Reports of “Circles fatigue”, a stab in the heart of one of the flagship features of Google+. Low return rates and overestimations of “active users”. Not encouraging.

I like Google in general, but I don’t like Google+. I’m sure it will continue to exist and do well in some circles (pun intended), but I’m invested in Facebook. I prefer Facebook’s user experience. And now with Facebook’s latest release that effectively mimics circles for status updates, I can’t see an avalanche of people preferring to use Google+ for any sane reason other than if you are a Google fanboy.

Now there’s a distinct possibility that anybody who launches another social network is going to fail to beat Facebook simply because of the sheer momentum they have with their user base. They got there first and like it or not, first matters in social networking. Unless you screw up or fall behind, and Facebook has done neither of those things.

There is also the opinion out there that Google+ isn’t really the goal, but rather an enabler for Google’s total cloud experience including Google Apps, GMail, etc. and optimized for Android tablets & smartphones, and Chromebooks.

Fair enough, but will this vision of a completely integrated ecosystem really draw people away from, say, Facebook and Office 365? Microsoft’s move into the cloud looks to be pretty compelling and it’s backed by almost unchallenged corporate support (everyone uses Exchange, AD, SharePoint, and Office already, pretty much without exception), and you can be certain some enterprising developers will make sure to glue it together with the social experience of their choosing, whether Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or all of the above, and it surely will all work pretty seamlessly even though they are separate services from different vendors – think of all the mobile apps out there that glue these disparate services together to create an optimized, tailored experience, like Flipboard, Hootsuite, and others. The beauty of today’s web is that it is possible to create superior experiences by meshing together a few core services – the loyalty isn’t there unless your ecosystem somehow manages to deliver a better solution together than some app developer can create themselves and sell for $0.99 or nothing.

So assuming that Google does hope to have it stand on its own two feet, I wish you well Google+, as I do all of the other niche social networks out there. Good luck in figuring out a way to steal Facebook users, because right now it isn’t looking good.

Now if only there was a way to syndicate any Google+ updates directly into my Facebook feed. But wait a sec, then I might just end up with duplicate posts from well-meaning Hootsuite-esque users trying to make sure they cover all their bases when authoring posts across multiple social networks.

Forget it, I will just ignore Google+ and hope I don’t miss anything important…or I suppose I can just continue to use Flipboard for consuming news/updates/etc. assuming it supports Google+ in some way.

Either way my logins to Google+ are likely to be far and few between.

Unfortunately to me it looks like the second coming of social actually means second place.