If Google+ really works, Google will be creating a massive amount of new "conversational media" inventory, the very kind of marketing territory currently under development over at Tumblr and Twitter. Sure, the same could be said of Facebook, but I think that story has been well told. Google+ is a threat to Facebook, but for other reasons. The threat to Tumbrl and Twitter feels more existential in nature.
Let's look at a typical flow for Tumblr, Twitter and Google+.
The Google Plus story s shaping up to be is one of the best technology has produced. Most of us did not see it coming, but it did. G+ started as a mere disturbance in the vortex and has already become a tsunami in cyberspace.
There is no question in my mind that Google will very quickly (if they aren’t already) begin incorporating Google Plus behaviors into the ranking algorithm for Web pages.
Google has an operating system (Chrome), a browser (Chrome), and the leading mobile platform (Android). Facebook has none of these.
Here’s the scenario I see unfolding before the end of 2011, and possibly before Labor Day. Google opens up business pages on Plus to Adwords customers. Any clicks and +1 (Google’s version of Facebook “like”) your business content receives on Plus has a direct impact on your organic search engine rankings, while your Facebook activity continues to have no impact.
Google’s unique ability to finally tie search and social together in one package will force the hand of business, making Google + the place to be for interaction between companies and their customers. I’m not predicting the death of Facebook (or even Twitter), but smart companies will spend some time this summer making sure they’re focused on how to BE social, and not how to DO social on a particular platform. Because eventually, the tools always change online.
"They're very unlikely to dump Facebook for GooglePlus," says Johs Bernoff at Forrester. "GooglePlus will be successful for people who want to have a simple connection with a social circle that they have, whether it's their book club or their Boy Scout troop."
The meme about Google+ Circles is that it beats Facebook on privacy because it gives us upfront control over whom we share with. That’s true: Every time I share something I make a decision about whether to share it with the public or some of my circles. That is better, clearer, and easier than digging into Facebook’s settings once and for all to silo my world. It is better than not bothering to change those settings and depending on Facebook’s defaults, only to find them change and become more public. Google+ got to learn from Facebook and start with Circles to enable this difference.
The challenge for Google is that Facebook has become the default social online network for the planet. Who wants to maintain another network? Will Facebook’s ever changing interface and privacy concerns be enough to make hundreds of millions of people change? This is very important for Google and maybe its long term existence and continuing relevance hinges on it becoming part of people’s social networks and not just a search engine.
Friend management has been the bane of my Facebook experience because I don’t want to share everything with everyone. I also made the mistake of accepting far too many friend invitations with the result that I share very little on my “personal” account. While there are tools like Facebook Groups and friend lists, they are incredibly cumbersome and difficult to use.
Google+ leverages the fact that you already have your “real” friends listed and possibly even organized in your address book. Google can leverage all of that behavioral information into helping you easily manage your relationships. Because face it–who you share with, how often, and with what other people you do that sharing provides valuable insight into the nature of the relationships.
I don’t expect Facebook to stay still for long. Look for them to roll out improved friend management tools in the near future. But regardless, they will always lack the behavioral intelligence to help me truly manage my friends, unless I am a devoted Facebook user.
So long as another company owned the social graph, Google has been pushed to an unfamiliar role, as challenger. With the launch of Google Plus (nee Google+), you can see they haven't taken the role of backup lightly - delivering a fun and engaging place that brings many of the benefits of existing social sites, but learns from their mistakes. In time, the package of Google+ could be a serious alternative for people's attention.
Google’s senior executives — long dismissive of the idea of importance of social to search — were contrite during their briefing earlier this week. “It is about time we have come to the realization,” said Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product with Google, “If you don’t know people, then you can’t organize the information for people.”
Google’s realization — however late – that it needs to use social, location and other signals to enhance its core search platform is welcome. “Google needs to understand these relationships and basically use those to make search better,” said Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president for Social in an hour-long briefing earlier this week.
I finally found time to cash in on one of my Google+ invites after taking a much needed vacation. My initial assessment? Google has actually figured out how humans work, so mark Google+ as one to watch and ignore the pundits that are telling you it's no threat to Facebook. The real threat from Google is they have finally shown evidence that they understand social and human beings by association.
Google has made a major step forward into social. Even though the more constrained privacy model doesn't hold back rollout for sake of noise, the public noise about Plus will drive them to accelerate rollout soon (also, there is an empty Family circle). * Profiles, activity streams and social objects are the trifecta for social sharing. But the really interesting stuff starts to happen when they integrate their more collaborative properties. Let alone bring Plus into their one social property, YouTube, which is one hell of a property. * Its not clear to me that Plus will be able to hang on to its early adopters, and is mostly getting feedback from them right now. Some of us want to move over to something new, especially from Facebook. * My guess is that the Circles model will retain certain conversation leaders in the same way LinkedIn does for its professional demographic. But further integration will be required for true differentiated utility. * That said, I believe that Google has a full commitment behind this, is iterating quickly upon a good start. Google will be a player in social and thats largely a good thing.
I've never thought that there would be one social service to rule them all. I've never thought that there would be one social graph for the web. I believe we'll need a multitude of social services to satsify the needs and desires of all the users of the web. Google+ fills a void between public and private, it serves what is likely to be an older demo less interesting in hooking up or hipstering out and more interested in the social utility it provides. That's a good thing.
So I'm rooting for Google+. I think it will serve users who aren't being served well (or at all) on the social web right now. And I think it will be a strong new platform for developers. And both of those are great things for the web, our business, and entrepreneurs.
I know I hated Buzz. I know that I hated Friendfeed. I know both those services faded to the back. I know that I like this, at least initially. I didn’t like MySpace. I am still not friendly with Facebook. Twitter’s my pace. But Google+ can do a lot more than Twitter, it would see.
OK, I’ve been putting many hours into Google+. Your mom won’t use Google+.
So, what is Google+ for then? It’s for us! Come on now, we geeks and early adopters and social media gurus need a place to talk free of folks who think Justin Bieber is the second coming of Christ. That’s what we have in Google+ right now. Do we really want to mess that up?
That all is a long way of saying that I really love Google+ and I don’t care what the average user thinks of it. I’m getting a ton of utility out of it and I am having a blast with it. Hope to see you there soon, but please leave yo momma over on Facebook, OK?
Google's new social network offers a nice collection of features and a great design, but none of these things is enough to create a social network that people want to keep using -- that requires a critical mass of users, and Facebook is leading...
For a really long time, Google has been treating the social world the same way as Microsoft treated the internet. We all remember how Bill Gates back in 1994 said I see little commercial potential for the internet for the next 10 years.
Now it seems like Google is actually on to something. The new Google+ is all about you as a person, the connections you have, and how Google can help you to have a more meaningful "social circle." It is not about algorithms. It is about people.
Finally, after many mis-starts and social media debacles Google gets their social networking offering down right. The downside is, there’s no compelling reason for me to pick up camp and move over.
Despite the familiar balance of features and site structure layout, this looks like a bare bones version of Facebook (minus the excessive ads, applications, yesterday tabs, and confusing user interface). As a result, I don’t see how this differentiates from Facebook.
I thought I'd type up some notes after an evening of using Google's new social network, Google Plus. This is a really big deal, a super ambitious effort involving scores of engineers over months of near total secrecy. It's really, really well done. Will it be good enough? I have no idea, but I have felt drawn to keep using it all night long.
The fundamental value proposition is around privacy: it's the opposite of Facebook and Twitter's universal broadcast paradigm. Google Plus is based on the Google Circles feature, which lets you share and view content to and from explicitly identified groups of your contacts, and no one else. It's really easy to use and a great feature - but even if you're communicating out in public, the rest of the service is very well designed, too. This is a smart, attractive, very strong social offering from Google.
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