Home What Google Plus Needs to Do to Win Developers’ Hearts

What Google Plus Needs to Do to Win Developers’ Hearts

Competition is about to get red hot between Facebook, Twitter and the soon-to-launch Google Plus Application Programming Interface (API). Yesterday’s launch of Google Plus Games was the first instance of 3rd party apps built on the platform being released to the public and that announcement was accompanied by the launch of a new official blog that Google will use to communicate with what it says are tens of thousands of developers who have expressed interest in its platform.

Facebook responded within hours with very public updates to its Games platform. Meanwhile, Twitter is adding features fast and bulking up its developer team with high profile hires of trailblazers who’ve led developer programs at Facebook, Google and Yahoo in the past. What can Google Plus do to compete for the hearts and focus of platform developers? We asked on Google Plus and the responses we got were quite clear.

Last night and again this morning, Pacific Time, I posted the following to Google Plus:

Question: Google Plus will be launching its app developer platform soon. What does it need to do to win developers’ energy away from Twitter & Facebook? What could those platforms do to maintain the developer engagement they have in the face of that challenge? Please share your thoughts, they will be much appreciated. Feel free to message me privately if you have thoughts you don’t want to share publicly.

So far I’ve received about 50 responses. I would add that these responses come within the context of Facebook being awash in low-quality apps, heavily throttled but still often annoying to users and Twitter angering its developers time and again with changes to its API and public calls to stop building certain popular types of apps (like user clients) that Twitter now wants to own. That said, there’s still a whole lot of developer engagement with both those platforms.

More competition should equal more and better developer work, which means more fun and utility for users. This should be good. Google’s Joseph Smarr told me on the night Plus launched that the team is “eager to make the social graph a ‘two-way street’ where you can use your circles to quickly get up-and-running on a new site, but also make new friends on that site and add them to your circles.”

How about a little Android integration? The possibilities are many.

Most of the responses to the question above that we’ve seen so far fall under the following four general concepts.

  1. Clear API documentation that is updated when exceptions are responded to. “Don’t make changes that remove features without notice, clear [and lasting documentation] and a replacement at the same time,” said digital marketer Ted Sindzinski, for example.
  2. Good community management. “A nice ‘community’ in the #socbiz sense of the word – e.g. https://dev.twitter.com/ or @sapmentors,” said management consultant Mark Bean.
  3. A light hand on banning apps. As Plus user Kevin K put it, “Not having useless restrictions and not banning applications. Given the handling of the pseudonym debacle, I don’t know if they’re going to do it right.”
  4. Let everyone know how to make money.Hashim Warren, Interactive Producer of BET’s 106 & Park, said ” Google should make it clear how devs can make money on the platform.” Many others in the conversation agreed.

The excitement and opportunity are tangible. “As a developer, I’m already 100% in,” says Eric Skiff of New York’s QLabs. “Google’s magic sauce of realtime feedback, notifications, re-sharing and general excitement about the platform are keeping engagement super high from my perspective, which means the chance to compete for users’ attention where they’re already looking.”

What do you think readers? Can Google Plus win developers away from today’s dominant social platforms? What will it need to avoid or do in order to compete most effectively?

As a user of all these services, I couldn’t be more excited to see the competition heat up.

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