+Fail or +Success

“So when I share on Facebook, I overshare. On Twitter, I undershare, because it’s public. If Google hits that spot in the middle, we can revolutionize social interaction.” I was lucky enough to get an early invite from a friend of mine who works at Google. Here are my first thoughts on Google’s attempt to become more social.

Google started a lot of experiments to move into social and I must say that some of the earlier projects were far more inventive at first glance. Wave for example was a move into a more social way of collaborating, which we used quite a lot, when it started. Ok Buzz and +1 were not the big leaps, but at least they tried to innovate rather then replicate.

Now here is Google+. Probably the real benefit will be seen over the next weeks and months as the network grows and additional features will be added. At this point and in this stage, I don’t think this will be a real threat to Facebook. For a couple of reasons:

Missing killer feature
Yes, Google+ looks slick and yes the circle function is nice. But both, design and this one feature can be replicated by Facebook. So what would be a main reason for me to move to Google+? Just the slicker user experience will not do the trick.

Missing connectivity 
No connectivity with Facebook is kind of an issue at this point. The value of any network grows with the people using it. So it would be a nice feature to easily convert your Facebook contacts and to be able to invite people from the very beginning.

Monopolist Angst
I am using a lot of Google products. Gmail is my main, well only E-Mail service I use, I have huge photo collection on Picasa, I am using the Reader and I love Chrome. Having all these services working together is very convenient. Still, people don’t want to be dependent on just one company. This may be a very German perspective, but that whole ridiculous discussion around StreetView and privacy issues led to a lot of paranoia. Facebook has the same problem, but Google is definitely not the more trustworthy brand when it comes to privacy issues.

It takes time to build your personal network
In many countries people slowly moved their network from a local service (e.g. StudiVZ in Germany) to Facebook. The barrier to do that again, might just be too big. Again, most of the very social affine users needed a couple of years to build their private and professional networks in Facebook, LinkedIn (sometimes even another local service simultaneously, like Xing), Twitter and so on.

No additional service but a replacement
The thing about Google+ that kind of annoys me is the fact, that it just copied the key features of Facebook and tries to replace the service with a slicker design and some little additional features. I don’t think that this will be enough to move people to the new service. What I liked about earlier Google ideas, was to think differently and to add additional services, rather than replicate them. I think Google has more innovative capabilities to really innovate the future of social and think about what might come after Facebook. Google+ (at least at this stage) is not the answer.

Potential of one seamless experience
But, there is huge potential. The more I played around with Google+, I noticed these little side effects. For example I just had some conversations on Google+. 10 minutes later I had a chat summary in my Gmail account. The biggest opportunity for Google will be to further integrate all services to create one seamless search/mail/social/browser experience. The killer move for Google would be to become something like a meta-social network, offering the platform to integrate all your social networks, mail and other information in one place.

For me, Sparks seems to be the feature with the biggest potential. “This mother of all streams would be the equivalent of an intravenous feed of information, with inclusion of all the vital content from our social graph and the world at large (Google calls this the “interest graph”). It would scroll forever, and everything would be relevant. If Google’s original goal was to expeditiously dispatch us elsewhere, with this near-clairvoyant stream, Google could turn us into search potatoes who never leave.” This can be the major way of browsing the web in the future, putting different layers upon each other – search, personal preferences and your social graph to get to the most relevant content out there.

These are just some of my first thoughts on Google+. Let me know what you think. Also check this very comprehensive Wired article on how Google+ was developed, some background information and all the features. Inside Google+ — How the Search Giant Plans to Go Social




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About aschauerte

Marketing, Media, Communications and Business Strategist.

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