Google+ is growing fast and turning heads in the process, but its rise to the top has not been without criticism. One reason the new social network found itself under fire was due to its strict policy on user profile names.
Since launching the platform back in June of last year, Google has been stern in its stance of only allowing people to use their real names when creating a profile on the site. To show just how serious it was, the company promptly suspended the accounts of users who did not heed its warning.
In the beginning, Google was shutting down those accounts without notice, then started to give users notification once the backlash ensued.
The internet giant recently announced that it has decided to ease up on its username policy. That’s right. Google+ is now allowing pseudonyms and nicknames to be used on the network. The announcement was made in a post made via the social platform by Bradley Horowitz, VP of the social network’s product division. Apparently Google felt compelled to start singing a different tune after learning that 60% of its reported more than 90 million users desired the ability to use a nickname for their identity. 20% said they would like to use an unconventional name such a pseudonym, while another 20% cited they would prefer to use a name associated with their business.
Double Edged Sword for Marketers
For marketers, Google’s decision to let users have a little more creativity with their Google+ username can be looked at as having one major upside, and one major downside. On the bright side, you now have the freedom to use basically any name you want with your profile, even a well known pseudonym such as the “grillmaster”, for example, as long as you can prove your identity. Google is giving users the opportunity to prove their identity with documentation and references that can verify who they are either on or offline.
The downside to Google lighting up on its username policy lies in the catch – and there’s always a catch, right? Even though the company is now allowing pseudonyms and nicknames on the social network, this does not mean that the user’s real name will no longer be displayed on the site.
So for instance, if you are a marketer selling shoes who wants to connect what you do to your username, that name will likely be displayed along the lines of: Your First Name “Shoe Guy” Your Last Name, or Your First Name, Your Last Name “Shoe Guy”. This only pertains to those conducting business from a personal profile, but it definitely presents a problem as far as professionalism is concerned.
While some feel what Google has offered with the acceptance of pseudonyms and nicknames is a fair compromise over the previous policy, several users are still not content. A large portion of the user base is still steaming about the fact that they can’t do away with using their real name entirely. Seeing the backlash, perhaps the biggest concern of marketers should be whether Google’s refusal to bend a little more drives members of their audience away.