Is Google Too Late with the Google+ Project?

steve olenski
Steve Olenski Sr Creative Content Strategist , Responsys

Posted on June 29th 2011

This past Tuesday Google announced the new social networking platform called the Google+ project. It clearly has Facebook in its sights but will it succeed or go the way of Google Buzz, Orkut and Google Wave?

There is certainly a lot of, no pun intended, buzz going around about the Google+ project and rightly so, after all anything Google has a hand it surely gets a lot of attention. There is surely no shortage of articles to read all about this and I invite you to, pun intended, Google the Google+ project and read to your heart's content.

One article in particular caught my attention and it was from The New York Times. In their piece, they make a very compelling argument that Google may in fact be too late to the Social Media dance as they reference the fact that "In May, 180 million people visited Google sites, including YouTube, compared with 157.2 million on Facebook, according to comScore. But Facebook users looked at 103 billion pages and spent an average of 375 minutes on the site, while Google users viewed 46.3 billion pages and spent 231 minutes."

For those of you keeping score at home that's 103 billion pages for Facebook vs. a little more than 46 billion for Google.

As far as Google's unique selling proposition, or USP... one of the big selling points, at least Google hopes so, is that is designed specifically for sharing with groups, i.e. friends, family, co-workers etc., rather than with all of another user's friends and more importantly, the entire internet like say on Facebook.

Not sure if that alone will be enough to convince people to use yet another social network, even it does come with the Google name attached to it... again, I offer Google Buzz, Orkut and Google Wave as Exhibits A, B and C as to why just having the Google name on something does not guarantee future success.

Then there's the name itself... According to Vic Gundotra, the senior vice president who oversees Google’s social products, the "Plus" is reflective of the fact that it "takes products from Google and makes them better and ‘project’ because it’s an ongoing set of products,” said Vic Gundotra, the senior vice president who oversees Google’s social products." Meanwhile internally, according to the New York Post, the project is codenamed "Emerald Sea."

If they're only two choices I'll take Emerald Sea. At least it conjures up visions of Dorothy and Toto, et al and of a wizard and all that good stuff.

As far as the Google+ project being a direct competitor of Facebook, Mr. Gundotra claims that's just not the case. "We aren’t trying to replace what’s currently available, we just want to introduce a new way to connect online with the people that matter to you."

And if you believe that... well you get my point. And perhaps Mr. Gundotra was being truthful when he said Google's not trying to replace "what's currently available" a not-so-veiled reference to Facebook but rest assured they want their piece of the ever-expanding social network pie and are tired of watching Mr. Zuckerberg have all the fun.

And if you're so inclined, here's a brief video Google produced to help explain the Google+ project.

  Sources: New York Times, MobileMarketingWatch.com, New York Post Is Google Too Late With The Google+ Project?

steve olenski

Steve Olenski

Sr Creative Content Strategist , Responsys

Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company, and a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing. He can be reached via TwitterLinkedIn or Email

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Comments

Steve, interesting post not least because it neatly sums up some of the naysayers' attitude towards Google+. It misses a couple of critical points thouch which even The Times article did not cover. A. Facebook usage became crucial to social media for business not because of Facebook but because Google used a brand's (or a website's) presence on the social network as a metric for website ranking. This led to an explosion of Social Media Marketing initiatives which, in turn, led to Facebook growrth in numbers, usage and profile. B. Search is a central component of many people's lives and it stops and starts with Google. Facebook, despite the fact that last year outstrippped Google in terms of data served, still lags woefully behind on its impact on online purchasing decisions 68% of which, ComScore estimates, begin with search. 

Google+ has automatic transparency to Google search (and an immediate impact on SEO) and seamless integration with it. Just these two are a significant edge but that is not enough to make Google+ different. There is something else and it's in its approach.

Google+ is not like Facebook's 'walled garden' where the algorithm of its social graph tries to bring more and more of the web inside Facebook. Google+ offers the tools to break free from walled gardens of every kind and tiurn the web into a social playground. In this it is user-centric in a way which Facebook has never been. The question here is, is this enough? Personally, I believe it is. Time will now tell if that belief is rightly placed or not. 

Of course they're not trying to replace Facebook, but they will be the strongest competitor. IMO, Facebook made a lot of moves which weren't quite smart, the roll out of the face recognition and the android app update which wants to 'read' your sms messages and what not... They are not too late in my eyes, i think it took a while to make a social network thats differs from facebook in a couple of good ways. I'm lookin forward to it.

Hi Steve, 

I have to admit that the idea of organising people into groups I find very compelling. Right at the moment I don't share my facebook page with business contacts. I suspect many others have the same issues that a facebook page is about your social life and you quite possibly don't want to mix that with your business life. I think there may be a cultural aspect to this as well. In the US I think there is less of a divide between private and business life, here in the UK I think we tend to have a firmer divide. Whether that's a good or bad thing who's to say but it does impact how we view applications like Facebook from a business standpoint.

I'm going to be signing up for a Google+ account because I think this is a bold experiment from Google and I'm fascinated to see how it turns out.

Best regards,

Orhan.

It's not too late. Google can take Facebook users. It did the same thing in Search Engine and Email market. Facebook has a lot of problems of which Google can take advantage.

However, Facebook will not stay calm and see Google take its place. With huge amount of cash, Facebook can resolve its issues and defend its marketshare. 

It'll be a startling battle! Let's see!

Well, I for one, will also probably sign up for Google+, but I agree with some other people who have posted their comments:

The name: please, I know that for branding purposes, Google needs to have its name as part of its new social networking site/platform (what DO you call it?), but even so, the name does not reflect its purpose. Rather, Google+ sounds like another widget or app.

If Google+ can somehow develop a process to make the transition from Facebook, or have the user be able to migrate its friends information easily from Facebook to Google+, well then I think that may make for a more compelling reason to switch. Yes, yes, I'm sure Google is playing it safe by saying it's not competing with any other social networking site, but let's be honest, ultimately, isn't that what it's all about?

In terms of marketing and promoting this new product, I am sure that Google is planning a major campaign, and I'm looking forward to how they roll it out, with TV commercials, media interviews, etc. I think they should sign up someone like Justin Timberlake to be the spokesperson for Google+! What a hoot that would be, seeing he was in the movie about FB!

So, Google, what do you think?

Google is still a leading search engine and in near futuew also i think no one will compete. BUt when we talk about Social Media Google is trying to compete with facebook but face boo is far ahead and to compete with Facebook Google need to launch somethimg stunning. Google + is good application which will help us to get a better seach result. Actually Google is covering so many field but faceboook is focusing on socila media.Facebook has also announced to launch somethinh new next week i am waiting for that.

I've been using Google+ for a little over a week, and what I see is that its strengths include its ability to aggregate some of the other top social media tools and the ability to segment your social network.  

I've been in business long enough to recognize that companies and products that are on top today, may not be on top tomorrow. Social media is still in its late infancy. It is hard to say who will be a player in another 10 years, but I believe that timing, vision, and innovation determines.  Look at Myspace. In 2005 the company was purchased for $580 million, recently is was resold for $35 million.  In 2005, who would have predicted they would have had such a dramatic decline?

Facebook continues to do well, because they continue to innovate. If they continue to make blunders that deteriorate the trust that users have, who knows where they will be in 10 or 20 years?