Social media is no longer just about Twitter and Facebook. Granted, at the time of their release, both of these entities rewrote the rules when it came to sharing our lives online. Facebook made it easy to become a voyeur of the lives of soon-to-be moms who you dated at university; Twitter gave you 140 characters into which you could cram your controversial opinion; and location-based services like FourSquare and Gowalla rewarded you for your loyalty. At the height of Facebook’s dominance in the week of 13 March 2010, more people visited Facebook than Google. It seemed strange that, with all the amazing yet disparate products under its wing, Google was floundering in the social media pyre.
The meteoric launch of Google+ (20-million users in less than 3 weeks) can be seen as the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes of such failures as Buzz and Wave – the word ‘Circles’ immediately comes to mind here. Users are invited to collaborate with whomever they want to include and those who are excluded are oblivious to it, that’s quite a nifty way to manage the message socially. This form of ‘targeted sharing’ is in keeping with their core money-spinner, Adwords, too. More on that later though.
What we can confirm via Joseph Smarr is that Google+’s backend is built mostly using BigTable and Colossus/GFS and that they use a lot of other common Google technologies such as MapReduce which many other Google applications do. What this means, in the bigger scheme of things, is that Google+ isn’t a Facebook killer – it’s a social media game changer, and here’s where some imaginative integration speculation can spice things up:
Google+ and Docs = collaborative publishing on the fly. As more groups of people begin to collaborate on cloud-based documents it’s going to be important to publish information to certain groups (read Circles) as well.
Eventually, different departments within a business could start publishing information within their Circles and could increase their productivity through this efficient means of data dissemination.
Google+ and Youtube = exponential video sharing. The chances of a video going viral increase exponentially when you’ve got influencers sharing with their Circles. With over 20-million potential influencers Google+ is now a very nice home-away-from-home for Youtube. Hangouts also mean increased brand engagement: imagine talking to the Isaiah Mustafah (The Old Spice guy) in real time.
Waiting around on Twitter for your brand to reply to you is going to be so old-school when you’ve got real time brand immersion.
Google+ and Latitude = Foursquare killer. It’s easy to see how having a location-based application like Latitude could fit into a conglomerated social media environment. You can check in, your friends know where you are and, once Google+ allows in brands and businesses, it’s going to be easier than ever for them to do loyalty targeting.
As an aside: If we cast our minds back to November 2010 when rumours of Google acquiring group buying company Groupon were rife we can see the potential in having a group buying application linked to a location based service – this could be a compelling marketing tool for small and medium businesses.
Google+ and Translate = a true social media Babel fish. Ever get sick of having foreign friends who are probably posting the most interesting things, but you can’t understand Swahili? By integrating Google Translate into Google+, we may no longer have to wonder what our foreign friends are saying or commenting about us – it’s automagically translated.
Google+ and Sites = Facebook Fan page killer. There’s only so much you can do to your Facebook page in order for it to stand out from the rest. Not so, if Google+ integrates Sites. The potential for celebrities, businesses and eccentric geeks to differentiate their pages from each other is going to be huge, coupled with the fact that this allows different forms of transactions to occur, from leading generation to crowd sourcing, your ‘site’ on Google+ could cover it all.
And, the real kicker: Google+ and Adwords = a viable, trackable and ROI effective monetisation model for social media. Gone are the days of trying to justify the value of a ‘Like’ on Facebook or a retweet by an influencer on Twitter, with Adwords contextual targeting advertisers will be able to target Google+ the same way they do with Gmail. Added to this is the kind of demographic data (age, sex, interests, +1’s) that Facebook has previously only been privy to — which makes targeting your ads in a social media environment so much more effective. As an addition, if it’s reporting you’re after: consider that linking Adwords to Analytics is done fairly easily as it is.
In the bigger scheme of things, Google+ is Google’s Chocolate Factory when it comes to being the one-stop shop for all of their amazing (yet currently disparate) peripheral applications. Given a bit more time, these wild speculations could be the death knell for some of the more favoured social media entities.
Graeme Lipschitz is the co-founder of digital innovation agency Wonderland Works where he heads up Social Media, Search and Product Development. He was previously the business development manager at Clicks2Customers.com and has worked for Google UK and South Africa as a lead account strategist, growing Adwords accounts in the... More