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Why Another Social Site? Because It’s Google, Baby

I've been known to ask people who engage in social media if they are a Facebook person or a Twitter person. I do this mainly because I have found that people usually gravitate to one or the other; geared internally to the posting model or the conversation model. So far, from my perspective, Google+ seems to be a good balance between the posting/sharing nature of Facebook and the conversational nature of Twitter, mixed with a grand ability to seamlessly include video chat and transparent follower segmenting.

The buzz has been widespread to say the least. And, once {complink 2294|Google} opened the doors a little wider, the interested parties streamed in: 10 million of them in two weeks. Yeah, it's mostly the geeks, but it's also the marketers. As champions of our brands, we must always be first into the fray, evaluating the novel and the niche. But what about everyone else? Why, with so much focus on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, would so many have so much more bandwidth to spend on a new player on the scene?

Are You Ready for G+?

Well, for one… It's Google, baby. Who knows the Web and those who use it better than the boys and girls of Mountain View? And with so much knowledge, why wouldn't one think they could put out the perfect social product? And, I mean… it's GOOGLE . It's a household name. People feel more comfortable signing up with Google than with some new no-name. Gone are the days when Gmail was just something the techies used.

And two, we just aren't quite satisfied. It wasn't just curiosity that drove those millions of registrations. What Facebook lacks, Twitter has, and vice-versa. But there has got to be some way to have everything I need in one site, right?

To the majority, this social media thing is still somewhat new. It is easy to get entrenched in believing that these sites will make or break the social revolution. But {complink 9664|MySpace} taught us that there will be an evolution and probably numerous shakeouts that leave multiple sites in the wake of others. {complink 3426|Microsoft Corp.} leaked its new site, “Tulalip,” on Wednesday. You can still hit the main-page-to-be at Socl.com to see the nice excusatory message they replaced the home page with:

Oops! Didn't Mean to Click Send!

And it's not just Microsoft. I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but I've seen social sites popping up everywhere I look: niche sites like untappd.com (for beer connoisseurs) and eons.com (for baby-boomers). So perhaps we are all going about this wrong in thinking there will be “one site to rule them all.” The future may just be one site for every niche.

But Google is a game-changer. It has what other sites don't. Here are just a few things I see that make Google+ a solid draw:

  1. Familiarity.
  2. Maybe just because it is Google, those dissatisfied with Facebook security settings and the site's unwillingness to listen to the desires of its users will find happiness at the site they use so many times a day.

  3. Utility.
  4. It's shown to be an encompassing tool thus far. Chatting, blogging, email, SMS, video chat… It's all there. Google has taken what looks like the best of what exists and built a single platform to house it all.

  5. Simplicity.
  6. Bite my tongue, right? But it is fairly easy, especially the selective transparency with which Google allows you to broadcast to audiences. “Circles” allows you to use Google+ for both business and personal stuff, separated by the click of a button. No more “I don't like to mix my personal Facebook stuff with work” or “I have another Twitter account I use for that.” There is no longer a need. Simply choose what you want to share and specify the Circle you want to share it with. I realize you can do this to some extent with Facebook, but it's usually at the contact level instead of the post level.

As marketers in this realm, we need to remain broad and flexible in our focus regarding our strategy for social. Mark my words: Google+ isn't the last major player we'll see step in like this. And it is imperative that we monitor our brands online, even as the landscape grows and new opportunities emerge, allowing people to let their voices be heard in new ways.

Have you used Google+? What are your thoughts? Haven't used it but already have something to say? This is the place to do it. Your comments are welcome.

50 comments on “Why Another Social Site? Because It’s Google, Baby

  1. Jay_Bond
    July 22, 2011

    I haven't used Google+ yet, but I am aware of a few friends who have. So far they seemed to be pretty impressed. Granted, they are network computer geeks who will be looking at things that some of us will not take into consideration. I think Google+ has a good chance to be the next big innovator. They have had time to see what sites like Facebook and Twitter have to offer, and are going to try and better them. With Linkedin being mainly a business networking site, Google’s main competition is Facebook and Twitter. Since Google+ has only been out for a few weeks, it will be interesting to hear what the masses have to say after they have had time to really get to know the site. 

  2. t.alex
    July 22, 2011

    Google, as usual,still keeps this as invitation-based. It tries to maintain a mysterious status? Those who already have the account often mention this is quite similar to facebook anyway. I am keen to have an account as well 🙂

  3. Tim Votapka
    July 22, 2011

    Haven't used it yet, but if you're telling me it provides the consolidation I want between business and personal visbility, I'm intrigued. As a marketing director for my firm, it becomes quite a bear to manage the outflow between Linked In, Facebook, Twitter and keep that statistic climbing. Up to now, I've relied on products like Nutshell to help monitor the various social media groups and communication lines. If Google+ has a method that saves time and increases reach, then I'm impressed enough to get on it this weekend!

    I imagine every other marketing pro in the supply chain ought to be doing the same.

  4. alawson
    July 22, 2011

    @Tvotapka — It's too early yet to tell what Google has in store for businesses. As of now, they have asked businesses not to set up accounts for their brands, leading us to believe there is more to the platform than currently meets the eye. It was the same for Facebook's evolution into 'Pages'. I am spending time familiarizing myself with Google+ on an individual level before they release expectation for business sites–armed with the knowledge that what I am seeing may not be representative of the offerings yet to come for brand marketing.

  5. alawson
    July 22, 2011

    @t.alex — I've given the 'invitation-only' aspect of this alot of thought, having gone through the same procedure with Gmail when it came out. I think the Google is defending against the masses of people who would just set up an account to see what it looked like, then abandon it forever. Yahoo mail and Hotmail from Microsoft saw this issue and it leads to lost space and revenue; as well as mis-leading statistics. How many Facebook and Twitter accounts are out there in existence just for this reason? I think that requiring an invite cuts down on this, as only those who really want in will make that extra effort.  Just an aside: If you have an iPhone of iPad, download the Google+ App through safari at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google/id447119634 — I have had friends say that signing up through the app did not require an invite… Worth trying.

  6. alawson
    July 22, 2011

    @Jay_Bond — Thanks for the comment, Jay. Its intriguing to say the least. Though any new social network brings with it the repeat requirement of rebuilding your audience, it would be worth the time if it provided what we need. I was just laughing to myself because many of those who have joined my circles are the same group that were the first users of Gmail. The front line never really changes. 🙂

  7. Tim Votapka
    July 22, 2011

    Got it. Worth watching as things change almost daily in this fast-paced area. You may want to look at Awareness software. I'm not a customer, but I've been told they've got an efficient way to bridge and hub the various social media traffic into a dashboard style tool.

    http://www.awarenessnetworks.com/

     

  8. AnalyzeThis
    July 22, 2011

    @alawson, I disagree with you on the invitation-only thing… I think it's more designed as a way to ENCOURAGE people to sign up. By requiring an invite, it makes it seem like some very exclusive, important thing. Google is able to get away with this because, well, they're Google: if a start-up tried this tactic, it would very likely result in no one signing up.

    Anyhow, it's not like getting an invite is very difficult. I have an invite and I didn't even ask for one. If you want to try it out, it's not a huge ordeal to get an invite, and if it Google+ was truly so “exclusive” they wouldn't already have 20m+ members.

    To me, the invite-only thing is a smart tactic to build buzz that works.

    Also, not really sure I agree with you on your point that inactive-type accounts cost these companies money: really, how much does an empty, inactive account cost? It's a couple of lines in a database. And it's not like if you sign up for Gmail, they put aside 2GB of space just for that account, regardless if you use it or not. That's not how it works.

  9. alawson
    July 22, 2011

    @DennisQ — Good points Dennis. Thanks for the comments and clarification. Its obvious that, whatever the strategy is around invites, it works (at least for Google). A few friends said they got invites in their Gmail accounts and figured everyone did. I did not, even though I got on gmail as early as I could. So maybe I just didn't get the early nod from the powers-that-be. 

  10. Kunmi
    July 22, 2011

    Considering the population and the usage of google I want to say they have a strong hedge over other social site. I saw the google + as an additional asset and I don't think it will be abandoned or useless like others that have unused or nonfunctioning account. Personnally, I am alway on google and I think students predominantly make use of it likewise. We live in a social world and for this generation that is what they need. I think its not bad.

  11. Mr. Roques
    July 22, 2011

    One Q: in order for G+ to be successful, does it have to bring down Facebook? Can they co-exist? 

    I have so much information on Facebook that migrating to a new one is not worth it. I might use it for some things but to completely dump facebook? not now.

  12. Houngbo_Hospice
    July 22, 2011

    I suppose Mark Z. is now shaking in his shoes. But we can expect an appropriate response to G+ from the FB team very soon. But the sooner, the better. The first thing FB should do is to incorporate group and video chat to the site and then work on emulating some of the G+ features (another implementation of Circle for instance) and add (more) new features later. 

  13. Houngbo_Hospice
    July 22, 2011

    Both social media can co-exist, but in the end users will eventually prefer one over the other. FB still has an advance over G+, but with the subcription rate to G+, we can expect its population to grow fast. The viability of FB depends on how it subdue the  power and possibilities of G+ and not expect that it will follow Google wave and die a quiet death.

  14. Nemos
    July 22, 2011

    “one site to rule them all.” I use daily Facebook. I cannot   speak about twitter (even if I have an account on twitter) and Facebook, although the continuing update and the lifting in site still has a lot of weak points.   So for the moment there is not a “perfect” social site, and I think this statement reply to your question about why another . Until we will have a social site  that will combine all the above you just described will be space for new social sites.

    The movement of the users from one social site to another will show us which of them will be successful or not.

  15. Clairvoyant
    July 22, 2011

    I will definitely be interesting to see in the future what the population of each social site is and whether Facebook holds it's population or other social sites such as Google+ takes over.

  16. JADEN
    July 23, 2011

    I am a facebook and twitter user but I can say that G+ will beat other social site hands down. The application will go a long way in online social revolution. Facebook has tried but not done anything in posting compare with what google+ CIRCLES or HANGOUTS has, using SPARKS is like you are using real google serch engine.  Google+ on mobile is a blast, it makes texting a great thing, fbchat can not handle what HUDDLE does on Google+. It is going to be a social network revolution breaker, a game changer.

  17. Ms. Daisy
    July 23, 2011

    I seem to agree with your point that Google will become a social media to reckon with. They have the advantage of their large users already.

  18. Wale Bakare
    July 23, 2011

    People feel more comfortable signing up with Google than with some new no-name.

    You are absolutely right. Personaly i feel more satisfied with whatever i output from Google anytime working its website. Those Software geniuses behind the Google's new innovations deserve kudos anyway.

    Google's ability to search for the best talents in software technology year in year out makes it street ahead of others. Google+ is welcome to social scene and am waiting to see how it will steer people socializing on social websites. 

    Meanwhile, how will Facebook and others respond?

     

  19. alawson
    July 23, 2011

    @JADEN — Thanks for the comment. Sounds like you have a good grasp on Plus. I find myself gravitating toward it myself–the capability to easily share any content with chosen groups goes a long way with me. I also like the App–looks like they spent some quality time creating a product that would resonate.

  20. alawson
    July 23, 2011

    @Mr. Roques and @Wale Bakare — Too early to tell what Facebook's response will be or whether they fight for the same audience. Zuckerberg had good things to say about Plus, and made an application available shortly before the Plus launch that allows a 'Circles-like' segmenting at the post level. They'll both get my attention in the beginning, but the one that wins out will be the one that makes sharing and collaborating quick and easy.

    Right now, Google gets the +1

  21. Adeniji Kayode
    July 23, 2011

    I agree Google may be on top because it already have a large user and then This might not shake FB much but it will definately shake Skype

  22. Anna Young
    July 23, 2011

    @ Clairvoyant, I agree, it would be interesting to see whether google+ is able to draw more population  than FB.


  23. t.alex
    July 24, 2011

    alawson, you have a good point on 'invitation only' approach. It seems Google is the only one adopting this. Perhaps they should extend this to loyal users like me :). I have been using its services for long time.

  24. prabhakar_deosthali
    July 24, 2011

    With new social networking sites coming up everyday and enticing you to become their member, I wonder how many members really remain active on these sites. You get an invitation , register yourself, create some default profile , visit it for a couple of days and then just forget about it or become too lazy to visit it everyday. In the last couple of years I may have registered on at least a dozen of such networking sites but now hardly remember even my login name and password  for many of them.

    So what is the use of all this ? Isn't it a wastage of the computing, internet, network infrastrcuture resources and also the time spent by individuals?

  25. elctrnx_lyf
    July 24, 2011

    Definitely google has done great work to integrate many of their technologies into the Google+. This will make google more n more stronger in the social networking. I'm wondering what will happen to facebook!!! Any foreseeing thoughts?

  26. alawson
    July 24, 2011

    @t.alex & anyone else — I'm not sure if invites are limited, but if you go to the “Social Media in the Electronics Industry” group on LinkedIn (http://linkd.in/r3lVTI) and post that you need an invite, one of us will be happy to do what we can.

  27. eemom
    July 24, 2011

    Google is definitely on the right track with Google+.  In the beginning, early adopters will migrate to Google+ since its new and improved capability.  Eventually those that have a need (or want) or one account that can separate their business from their personal friends will also join.  The question is how will Google get the younger generation to migrate over to their site?  Truth be told, the only reason I have a facebook account is because my kids do and I have to monitor their activity.  Facebook started with the younger crowd and now people of all ages have joined in.  How will google attract multiple generations?? The answer will determine its success.

  28. mario8a
    July 24, 2011

    Hello

    I think the best way to use Facebook is to Block EVeryone, Block the profile, Never make comments and enver read comments, and if is possible never upload pictures, alright… I'm just kidding.

    People should be aware of the consecuences using social sites and sharing “too much”, in regards to this article, we should wait for Google++ version.

    Best Regards

  29. Daniel
    July 25, 2011

    Andy, youngsters are crazed about social medias. It’s a common platform for them to network and to share some thing in common. Starting by Orkut, Facebook, buzz and twitter, now Google+ is the new comer in networking. Now a day’s such social networking medias are providing video and voice call facility for their users to get interact each other. That could one be one of the reasons that business communities are making use of such common platforms for customer support and business activities.

  30. saranyatil
    July 25, 2011

    According to me Face book has evolved as great dosage of addiction, the same to continue with google+ will take a long ride.

  31. alawson
    July 25, 2011

    @eemom — I don't know how representative this is, but my parents got on Facebook initially to be closer to their children's and grandchildren's lives. They did not embrace it as a means of social interaction with peers and friends until they had been on for awhile.  So, in my case and the case of many I know, the younger gen led the older gen to Facebook.  It would be conceivable that this could happen again.  However, switching costs and ramp-up time for the young, tech-savvy generations are much lower, so the real challenge will be in the incentive that we give our family to make the change. Personally, I think the ease of Google+ goes a long way for facilitating a switch.

  32. alawson
    July 25, 2011

    @mario8a — That's a great point. Thanks for the comment. Security of your information online should always be top of mind.  If you don't understand how the system works, seek out help; protect yourself with knowledge. And I am definitely of the opinion that those who are uncomfortable  with the sharing and open aspect of social media are probably better off doing just as you say. Social Media is, after all, about choice.

    That being said, each person must individually weigh the risks against the gains when it comes to transparency. There are more voices heard now around the world than ever before. A post or a tweet can spark changes both small and great. Its a powerful thing and a great time to be part of it all.

  33. Barbara Jorgensen
    July 25, 2011

    I haven't tried google+ yet, but I agree with your analysis–brand is huge advantage in this race.

  34. Houngbo_Hospice
    July 25, 2011

     “we should wait for Google++ version.”

    @mario8a,

    I agree that despite the good review about Google+, it is still in testing version and we cannot for sure say if this is a safer environment than FaceBook. But still, the only way to expect an improvement to the social site, is for people to use it and report potential flaws. That is what “testing” stage of a software is for.

  35. Ariella
    July 25, 2011

    Google ++ like C++ for programming? 

    Many have joined Google +, knowing it is not yet perfect, just to be in it right from the start nd see how it shapes up. Then there are some who are in simply because they've been invited. Some have added a number of people to their circles but have failed to otherwise utilize it because they don't post anything. 

  36. alawson
    July 26, 2011

    @Ariella — Thanks for the comment.  When we say they failed otherwise to utilize the tool, we need to remember that spectators and joiners make up the majority of Social usage today. Some of you may have hear me refer to the Social Technographics ladder by Forrester, which breaks the overall social audience down into segments based on their behaviors. People can naturally fall into multiple categories, but the picture speaks for itself. Though its been around since 2006, and the numbers have changed considerably, the fact that there is no vocal majority remains the same.  

    The majority of people on social are not 'chatty' as most think…they are silent listeners. 

  37. Ariella
    July 26, 2011

    “silent listeners” sounds much better, more wholesome and thoughtful than “lurkers.” You're right, I'm sure about more people just watching. Certainly, that accounts for the fact that one of my personal blog  posts can get many views — even years after posting — and not garner more than a comment or two. You would think that those joining Google+ want to be in the vanguard of things and so would be more apt to talk up, but I've seen quite a few profiles with zero posts — not even shared posts of other people they are following. I don't have too many of those in my circles myself, though I don't on principle exclude them. Someone on Google+, though, noted that she sees no point in putting such people in her circles.

  38. hwong
    July 27, 2011

    I also got invited but don't feel like joining yet another social site. For one thing, I feel people are usually reluctant to start something new until they necessarily have to or see the trend going there at a lightning speed. And if they don't do it they will fall behind.

  39. Ashu001
    July 27, 2011

    Mario,

    I like the way you are thinking but just don't feel all the marketers will be very happy with this approach.

    After all Social Networks are all about building the collective conscions is'nt it??

    And what this collective can no longer be built upon effectively we have trouble.Lots of trouble.The rationale behind Social Networks is contingent on an ever growing amount of users who keep adding more and more tidbits of their lives online for everyone to see.

    If that stops,most Social Networks will start to fold immediately.No matter how big the players behind them really are ,like Google.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  40. Ashu001
    July 27, 2011

    Wong,

    I agree with your sentiments and viewpoints entirely.The No.1 reason why Facebook still has the most number of users is this-The Network effect.

    Until most of my friends and family use a Social Network(any Network for that matter) I won't jump in.

    Most non-Geeks think in exactly the same way.

    Its a waste of time for us to be involved in a Network where none of our friends are there.

    Regards

    Ashish,

     

  41. electronics862
    July 27, 2011

    I can say that Google+ is becoming more popular day by day and I think it will become the good competitor with Facebook..

  42. mario8a
    July 27, 2011

    @Tech4People

    thanks for replying to my comment, as FB user I think Google+ will be another source for networking, how safe will be? I don't know…!!!

  43. alawson
    July 27, 2011

    @tech4people  & @hwong — I believe that for personal use, we have the luxury of jumping in late. With no audience or outlet for our messaging on a new network, there is no incentive for us to post. 

    As businesspeople though, we are inclined to the unknown; testing the waters a bit to prepare ourselves for the 'what-ifs'. If Google+ continues its meteoric rise (20 mil users in 24 days…FB took 1152, Twitter: 1035), I would regret not establishing both presence and understanding ahead of the wave.

     

  44. mario8a
    July 28, 2011

    Hello Alawson

    I agree with you in regards to personal use could be a “nice to have” but bussiness-wise will be a total different scenario.

  45. alawson
    July 28, 2011

    @mario8a — Only time will tell, right? Thanks for the comments.

  46. Ashu001
    July 29, 2011

    electronics,

    This is exactly the message Google Shareholders would love to hear!!!

    As for the rest of us,we can afford to wait atleast until there is a modicum of certainty to who exactly will be the clear winner in this battle.

    Regards

    ASHish.

  47. Ashu001
    July 29, 2011

    alawson,

    I understand the element of risk which Most entrepreneurs have to take.But things have changed dramatically(when it comes to risk taking today).

    Today thanks to a lot of other uncertainities in doing Business(especially Govt Tax,other regulatory hurdles and Recessionary winds) Risk appetite for most Businesses has gone down considerably.

    For most wait and watch (while these guys battle out amongst themselves-FB,Twitter,LinkedIn and Google+) in the meantime they will probably be hedging their bets by using both services for awhile and watching typical response rates on all these services.

    Regards

    Ashish.

     

  48. Ashu001
    July 29, 2011

    Mario,

    Yes you are right.

    Its definitely wait and watch on the Security front.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  49. SunitaT
    July 31, 2011

    “People feel more comfortable signing up with Google than with some new no-name.”

    A andy,

     Thanks for the post. I totally agree with you that people feel more comfortable with google. Infact signing up for Google+ is very easy. If we have gmail account then we can easily create one google+ account. We can easily port friends from gmail chat to google+. Overall google+ has impressed many users with its new features.

  50. Mr. Roques
    August 30, 2011

    Well, I think the G+ subscription rate is not real. Anyone with a gmail account can join G+ with a few clicks, not really what “joining means”, more like adding it. I'd like to see the involvement rate of users, how many hours they spend per day (per week is so 90s!).

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