making sense of social

Social isn’t just a problem Google can solve

Google’s latest effort to enter the world of social, Google+ launched today. Possibly the most interesting thing about the launch is the number of people who have passed comment without even trying the service. ”Google doesn’t get social – this will fail” they cry. (Invites certainly are scarce, I haven’t yet had a chance to have a play, hence why I shan’t be going into specific features.)

It’s not that Google doesn’t “get” social. It’s that it’s just not social. Not in the same way as Facebook and Twitter. Google make great products that solve specific problems. Maps, Docs, Search. They solve specific problems really well. Social isn’t a specific problem, at least not one that hasn’t already been in large solved by Facebook, Twitter, Skype et al.

For Google to crack social, they need to find a specific problem to solve. And on the surface, it looks like they’ve still yet to find their specific problem. Circles is an interesting step forward, it’s a nice feature. But it’s not a Facebook Killer. No single aspect of Google+ is. As Jeremiah Owyang points out, Google+ offers no reason to leave Facebook.

And sadly, because many people agree with the “Google doesn’t get social” camp, Google+ may never get off the ground, even if the individual features are good with room for improvement. Social networks need people to be interesting, otherwise it’s just like staring at a mirror in the middle of a large room. Wave failed to take off because they didn’t get enough uptake, then they got sued for forcing gmail users to be a part of buzz. If they get the right number, they may be able to do okay. But there’s a very real chance they won’t.

This post was originally a comment, written by me, as a response to [untitled]‘s blog


About the author

This post was written by Mike Phillips

Plannery type person with silly side projects. Not to be trusted.

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  1. Sebastian Mysko |

    Like I tweeted Mike, thought provoking stuff. After working in the ‘social’ media world now for some time, my peers and I seem to be feeling that the big players foundations are so firmly set in their places, new sites and ideas, even from the big players will struggle to get off the ground. Facebook is your #1 place to be social. For video, 90% will go to YouTube, but Vimeo is again firmly established as a visual place for creatives. Micro-blogging, twitter obviously won that one. Four Square etc etc. Sooner or later the competition falls by the way-side, and it’s got us kind of wondering… what’s the point in trying [to compete]? Anyway – wednesday rambling over. :)

  2. Daryl |

    I don’t necessarily agree, Sebastian. I know this is just one example, but Foursquare hasn’t exactly dominated the niche it pioneered. It seems that many people are more willing to “checkin” with FB Places due to the fact that their checkins will be posted onto their profiles, so provides a more integrated experience for users. And people tend to link their foursquare with FB and Twitter accounts for the same reason.

    Who knows, maybe google can provide an offering that integrates social media with their other products (that people use all the time), which may help them catch up to Facebook I’m the social field.

    • Seb Mysko |

      Sorry Daryl – my bad. Foursqaure was a bad a example. I love it personally, but here in the UK it’s still only really used by people who work in digital. Facebook Places on the other hand is a great tool and we use it a hell of lot within marketing in the music industry, especially [for obvious reasons] with events.

  3. (untitled) London |

    We think you’ll find there’s at least five new words in this version. Thanks very much for the blog-sized comments. We’re eagerly (ish) waiting to test it out, although it’s just hit over capacity. To be honest, and a lot of people have said this, it should perhaps have been open to all. Whilst the fact that it’s just gone over capacity and crashed (ish) suggests this probably might have been too much to cope with as the world logs on, it would make the initial experience better.

    And as someone once said at a distinctly average talk, make it good the first time as they won’t come a second time.

    P.S. The first letter of ‘name’ ‘email’ and ‘website’ are all chopped off in our view (in Chrome).

  4. 365SM |

    Well I agree with ” Daryl ” more people are still on FB rather then any other social network also I am sure that FB is creating new ways or techniques to fulfill the Social media needs according to the user but I am hoping that Google + will do some thing better to compete with FB and I am looking forward to it……!!!


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