With the insane success of Facebook (now 500 million accounts and 140 million uniques a month) and the decent success of Twitter (close to 20 million uniques a month) everyone wants to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Now with Google rumors floating the idea of a new social network apply named “Google Me” in the works, we need to ask ourselves do we really want another social network?
Any social network relies on one extremely important element to it’s success. NUMBERS! There is no point to be the lone user on a social platform. In fact the integrity, power, and future use of a network can easily be measured by it’s current accounts and it’s ability to grow.
If we rewind to 2 years ago we’d see several versions of similar social networks competing for market share. Facebook v MySpace or Twitter v Tumblr, etc… Now we can easily see a natural progression to one single network in each genre. Facebook and Twitter clearly being the leaders in personal networking and LinkedIn presiding over business social networking.
As users of social networks we want to keep things simple, now more than ever. We want a singularity, one stop shop where we can update and consume content with out having to do it in 10 different places. There used to be hundreds of places I could potentially feel good about posting a photo of my son and I playing ball. Now it’s on Facebook and possibly twitter if I think it’ll get a laugh. Flickr is still a predominate place for networking around media but again it has it’s place.
Another Network In The Mix
So where will Google Me fit? Just like Google Buzz I think we are looking at a social network with an expiration date of about 6 months from their launch date if they continue on the same path these rumors put them on.
I would imagine Google’s plan is to launch their new social service to all their current Gmail users. Forcing their users to press a “Join” or “Remind Me Later” button between logging in and viewing their Gmail account. This is pretty much exactly what they did with Buzz.
Inherently, forcing users in to a social network goes against the very fabric of social media. Not to mention that Facebook has practically created an oligopoly around social “friending” sites. It’s going to be near impossible for google to compete with Facebook on any real level. Even if Google Me is extremely intuitive, fast and reliable. You’d still have to get a huge number of early adopters to use it and love it before you’d get the regular crowd in on it. If Google Me does some really spectacular things I imagine it rising pretty quickly but in the end we don’t want to duplicate our efforts on social sites so we are going to have to make a choice between Google Me and Facebook.
Buzz’s Short Life Span
Buzz came on the scene rather quickly and was super easy to join because all you had to do was click the “join” button as you logged into Gmail. From their Google was even “kind” enough to put your buzz stream right into your Gmail dashboard. Mashable was even quick to adopt the “Buzz It” button on their articles.
These things should have given Buzz the building blocks to be a success but Buzz wasn’t something new and interesting. It was Twitter in Gmail essentially and it didn’t have the goods.
Where is Buzz now?
For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the news, Google’s recently-launched Google Buzz social network is not doing very well – actually, that’s sugarcoating it. Google Buzz is single-handedly the biggest mistake the search engine giant has ever made, and it’s a mistake that’s going to cost them dearly, both in terms of consumer confidence and in terms of actual money. Via
The above quote is from an article posted not far after the launch of Buzz. Buzz really didn’t stand a chance and as far as I know it’s not being widely adopted. I imagine Google will be taking down the network if it’s costing them money.
What Should Google Be Doing
Google is absolutely amazing at controlling, managing and cataloging data. This is where Google should be focusing their social efforts. Instead of reinventing the wheel and promoting it as an easier, faster and more reliable wheel they should be creating a solution for showcasing the wheel you have.
Several companies, start-ups and developers have worked endless hours to answer one question “How can we serve up social content from several networks in one easy to use application?”. If there is one thing google can do, it’s this.
If Google released an online application paired with a mobile / desktop app that would allow me to control, manage, view and share my social content in an intuitive fashion I’d be on board. TweetDeck recently hit 15 million downloads and they provide a very similar service. However Google has the man power, and funding to learn from TweetDeck and other applications to create the best one we’ve seen yet.
Where’s the Money?
Google is so desperate to get into the social realm because they see the opportunity for revenue. However, a better revenue stream may result from the reconstituting of social data into a platform or application combined with the use of Google Adsense. Google could serve up real time ads based on the content being shared or that a user is sharing. They have the algorithms in place along with the endless stream of paying advertisers.
Google could take control of your social data and provide a solution where you wouldn’t need to login to Twitter or Facebook and instead use “Google Socialize” (that’s a name I just came up with, nothing real) for all your social needs. Eventually Google could partner with Facebook and Twitter to mine that data out and serve it up faster to us.
With this model Google could be the first company to really make serious money utilizing a social network. 🙂
What are your thoughts?