Google Plus Disruptive Potential Reflected by Conference Audiences summarizes insights from audience reactions to Google+ presentations. CSRA launched the Executive’s Guide to Google+ because we thought it had significant disruptive potential for many of our clients, and our recent conference appearances (link to presentation below) have only underlined two of Google+’s unique attractions: your competitors don’t understand it and Google is managing it as a completely different animal, not a social network. Here I’ll share audience reactions to my recent Google+ presentations at public social business conferences and private corporate meetings.
Why Don’t We Just Use Facebook?
This is a good question, especially given Google’s “social” fumbles, which lead the unwary to believe that “Google doesn’t get social, it’s a search company.” Executives, and I’m no different in this regard, don’t like to be shaken up and disrupted. But we will be, whether we like it or not.
- Google+, since its strategy is to add more value to search, doesn’t have to make money like the pureplays do (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn). Even by adding incremental value to search, it makes Google a ton of money.
- Google+ will “synergize” with search in interesting ways that no one can predict. Google faces extensive legal and public resistance to SPYW (Search Plus Your World), its current “product” for co-mingling “Google” search results with social data. That is the intention, and I expect Google to pursue it as strenuously as possible.
- No “social network” can do that. I generally advise companies that invest in SEO or ecommerce to scope and pursue Google+ pilots aggressively this year.
We Don’t Want to Manage Another Presence
Sorry to be blunt, but the market won’t wait for you. Early movers will have very large advantages because this is changing the landscape in which social networks operate. Pureplays will prove to be dinosaurs, Google+ is a mammal. I predicted years ago that social networks would disappear because all software would have social features.
Nor am I saying that every firm needs to make a sizable Google+ investment. Ecommerce and SEO-focused organizations should aggressively pursue quick feasibility studies to scope the relevance to their businesses and pursue pilots as warranted.
I Don’t Know any Active Google+ Users, Isn’t This Just Hype?
Although some studies predict 400 million Google+ users by December 2012, we all know by now that, on average, five percent of a network’s users produce about 95% of the content. Google+ will not be in the workstreams of most users for years, even though they may technically be users.
But if you are like most of CSRA’s clients, you care about connecting with niches. Google+ can offer a rare opportunity to connect with key niches and affect search results. Successful social business initiatives aim to create trust and develop relationships with specific kinds of people. Google+ will be a very effective venue for some niches. Don’t be distracted by the fact that mass adoption doesn’t happen right away.
Another unique aspect of Google that leads me to believe that Google+ won’t have to worry about adoption. Google already touches so many people that it will have innumerable opportunities to lead people into the playground. Imagine these scenarios:
- You open YouTube and your friends’ videos are displayed by default (not your YouTube friends because most people never bothered to build that network); friends of yours who have +1’ed things
- You open Google Docs spreadsheets and other people’s public documents are displayed, especially people who went to your business school
- Google Maps displays your friends’ +1’s near where you are searching
- Google has all these opportunities to engage and show value; it doesn’t need overnight adoption
Won’t the Feds Shoot This Down?
Although I have no inside information on Google, I watch most of the major players. I expect Google’s main defenses to charges that it is “polluting” search results with “social” influence or data to be logical and technical:
- Logical: Google’s value proposition to users has been very consistent, “Deliver a better search result.” For some searches, social data will produce better results, and Google is smart enough to figure that out and deliver it intelligently
- Technical: offer a simple button that displays results with/without social data, giving choice to the user
- I expect Google to move slowly; they’ve learned from missteps with Buzz, etc.
What are your experiences with Google+?
Download Presentations Here
Here is one of the decks I used: How Google+ Will Trivialize Pureplay Social Networks.