8 Ways Google Can Become a Social Hub Overnight

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8 Ways Google Can Become a Social Hub Overnight

If you can’t tell from my recent posts, I think Google is quite revolutionary. With the implementation of Gtalk with video chat capabilities, Google Wave with the ability to have real-time collaboration, Google Docs & Calendar making document and schedule sharing between colleagues or friends and simply the ability to social share in search results, Google truly has made their website somewhat of a single source for all things social. With the expected announcement of Google integrating streaming updates into Gmail, I thought I would throw together a list of how Google could utilize these individual services into one social hub.

The Yellow Brick Road for Google’s Social Hub:

1. Pushing the limits with iGoogle-

iGoogle should have integration of every available asset into one spot. iGoogle is already a popular homepage for users, so why not do a redesign? How nice would it be to open iGoogle and be able to check your Google Voice messages, your Gmail, view popular waves that are being shared from other users, or just share the news yourself? I realize that there are third party widgets available, but for the social hub I would hope that Google would design their own pretty and fully functional built in apps.

2. Single share buttons for the
YouTube videos and Flickr images viewed on iGoogle homepage-

YouTube iGoogle Widget

There isn’t much that is needed to be said about this. Everybody loves watching funny YouTube videos or seeing a cute picture stream of a new puppy that their best friend adopted. Being able to pick out keywords of videos or images you want to see would also be fantastic and useful. Another example of how content can be personalized on your homepage.

3. Integrating GTalk and video with a web-based application so users can pop out chat (think along the lines of Aim Express…but better! Clearly Google is superior to AOL)-


I use GTalk a lot, but sometimes I’m not always on my computer or even on one that HAS a program with GTalk capabilities. I realize that you can pop out your chat box already, but having a pop-out web-based application that has every feature separate from Gmail or iGoogle would make GTalk easier to access and use to keep in touch.

4. Integrating Yelp


best of Yelp

Yelp is a website that lets you view reviews and recommendations on restaurants, shopping, nightlife and various other fun stuff in your city. Yelp also comes in handy for when you’re visiting a new place and have no idea what’s good or what you should avoid like the plague. Perhaps my iGoogle Social Hub idea could have a small box available that can display a new recommendation or review on places near you every few days.

5. Integrating Google Wave into the link bar with social sharing buttons for wave friends or the public timeline-

I think this is the bread and butter of my Google social hub idea. Google Wave can be used everywhere on the social hub. The share buttons mentioned above can be put around the YouTube and Flickr features, as well as with Yelp. The ability to instantly wave favorite places, videos or pictures can be extremely useful. If you want someone to meet you for dinner at a great restaurant in town, recommended by Yelp, simple wave them the information and they can view it themselves.

6. Google Voice easily accessible-

Google Voice

Even though Google Voice is currently available by invite only, when it becomes available to everybody it would be great to have this integrated into a sidebar so you can keep up with your phone messages along with your email and waves.

7. Integrating a drop-down menu with search features-

google search standardGoogle search options

I don’t know if most people who don’t use the internet often even realize this, but Google has a plethora of search options available when you look to the left of the search page. You can display results from images, videos or books as well as choose your timeline. You can also choose to show fewer or more shopping sites (which just proves there’s too many out there that leak onto the search page without us wanting them anyway) as well as a “social search”, which narrows results down to your social circle. I think iGoogle should have these in a drop down menu underneath the search bar so people can actually realize that it’s there.

8. Updating the Google smartphone application

Google iPhone app

The final step, of course, is to redesign the smartphone application. Having one cohesive application with all these options available (especially the ability to use wave sharing buttons….or wave at all since it’s not really available in an application) would make the redesign all the more valuable.

All in all, I think Google has the assets available to make one heck of a social hub. Having everything available in one place is very appealing and would attract more users… not to mention give their current users a nice treat for being loyal.

PS: I wanted to do a mock-up of the “iGoogle Social Hub” but I’ve decided to not put my viewers through the torture of my unskilled scribbles 🙂 Sorry!


Selena Narayanasamy
Selena is a "many-hat-wearing" digital strategist, consultant, and President of Orthris. She loves taking ideas from creation to execution, and owns multiple publication websites in... Read Full Bio
Selena Narayanasamy
Selena Narayanasamy

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  • Joanna

    Hey Selena… great post. Tons of info and I really enjoy your writing voice. I think you are spot on when you noted that Google has all the assets to become a social hub. I wonder if doing so would cannibalize their users that aren’t as socially savvy? Hmmm I guess time will tell. Thanks again for a great post lady!

  • JackNguyen.com

    Great post! Google’s also announcing a new social feature within Gmail today. Should be some interesting stuff!

  • Selena Narayanasamy

    Joanna- Thanks! I was wondering the same thing about the cannibalization of non-social users, but if Google did it the right way it could be simple enough where they can either ignore things they don’t want to use (or disable it), or even learn to use them! The opportunity for people to adapt would be amazing.

    My mom is a woman who generally hated computers her whole life and never liked to use them. I gave her a laptop for Christmas a few years ago and now she’s all over the place using Twitter, YouTube etc. Maybe a hub will encourage users to explore the social media/networking options out there without being too intimidating!

    JackNguyen.com- Yes! I’m waiting to hear the official announcement! I’m dying to try it out! Would Gmail streaming updates be something that you think you would use from day to day?

    • JackNguyen.com

      That’s a good point. Not sure if Google wants to lose focus on the main purpose of Gmail, which is to check emails. Very curious on how this new social feature would differ than Google Wave.

  • Selena Narayanasamy

    I think it would be way different than Google Wave. Google Wave is mainly a collaboration tool but it doesn’t implement any kind of video/google voice type tools. Wave actually scares me a little and I’m used to complicated web applications. I would hope that they wouldn’t make it as scattered as that, even though it’s very useful.

    Like you said, I’m hoping Gmail remains the main focus. Having the ability to disable certain features you wouldn’t use would make it more user friendly 🙂

  • JackNguyen.com

    It’s funny how Gmail is trying to be more like Facebook, etc., and just this past week I read that Facebook is thinking about adding email!

  • Selena Narayanasamy

    JackNguyen- Google is becoming more and more like other networking sites everyday! Facebook and email?! Oh no! That’s my biggest nightmare! Back when Myspace started adding personal email accounts is when I stopped using that service. I don’t think I like the idea of a social networking site integrating email… I think that’s why Google is in a prime position to do make a social hub… they already have the basics set up with long-time users and aren’t working backwards.

    Hanging back a little and seeing what Facebook and Twitter have successfully done may be to Google’s advantage… now they don’t have to necessarily do as much trial and error, just troubleshooting with their own application/products!

  • SM

    More than a year ago, it was clear that Google took the direction toward sociality.

  • Henry Elliss, Tamar

    A nice idea, though I suspect one that may have come before the Google Buzz announcement? Either way, whilst I agree that Google have the potential to do a lot of this, I think you’ve made a lot of assumptions about how popular various parts of Google are – though I may just be missing some stats here. Do you KNOW that iGoogle is “already a popular homepage for users”, or is that guess-work? Genuine enquiry – not trying to pick holes.

    I also remain unconvinced about Google Wave, so I think it would be VERY brave (or perhaps foolish) for Google to build that in to any socially integrated “hub” quite yet…

  • Selena Narayanasamy

    Hi Henry! Yes, I wrote it the day after I heard about the streaming updates being released… I was kind of imagining up something that would be nice to have 🙂 I’m happy that Google incorporated as much into Buzz as they did, rather than just streaming updates.

    My idea on iGoogle being popular is based on a few articles I’ve seen over the years (from 2007 on) or just the amount of users I’ve personally seen. The majority of users I come across with Gmail have iGoogle set as their home page for the convenience. I don’t have any official statistics- it’s more of an observation. I don’t think you’re picking holes- it’s a fair question to ask.

    I agree with you about Google Wave perhaps being trouble for Google to build into Buzz, however, Wave is still fairly new and has a lot of improvements to go through. As with everything else that’s is fairly new, it will take some trial and error/trouble shooting to get it to work right 🙂 I think once all the kinks are worked out and Wave is modified to fit Buzz it could be a pretty awesome idea… but would still take some bravery on Google’s part like you had pointed out!

  • Rick Clark

    Thanks for providing this great info-especially the convenient links!