Article first published as Why Google+ is not the Facebook Killer it thinks it is. on Technorati.
Google+ has attempted to usurp the King of Social Media, Facebook. While it will start things with a slightly changed interface, it will not be the change that we are all looking for, as the Google insight into social media is the same as it was, and the same as it will be until a fundamental shift in ideas occurs. Despite the majority of truly innovative products that Google has developed over the years, the move into the Social Media space makes Google and Google+ a big, yes, you guessed it, copycat.
People will always see Google as just that: Google. Google is merely about information and passing information from one person to the next, from one point to another. This is all about marketing 101 – branding. Google is an information or “search for information” brand, not a social networking brand. Google+ does not have all of the quirks that made Google, “Google” when it came into the business of transferring information. Google was in and of the same – it was it’s brand but it was also it’s action, and it’s essence. No disrespect for one of the largest companies on the planet, but they represent things that are far to mundane – search information. Social media from the outset is about information as well, but it is more about the organization of the information that is important to our ego centric lives – with which Facebook has done admirably. Has Google+ organized information differently than a standard search? Yes; the idea is still the same, however. The same, for the most part, as Facebook. Consumers will see this.
Social media at this checkpoint or baseline in time has a tremendous amount of social momentum. Think that 750 million members of Facebook have a lot of momentum? Probably, just a little. It is this negative pressure that will stop a lot of people from moving; moving will appear to cause you to somehow still live on the same block – this is why it is not a good solution to change. The rewards are not high enough for the risk or the disruption of moving, to benefit anyone to actually move.
Google+ is just a “me too” attempt at social media. Microsoft, when it fully introduces its recently leaked efforts into the social media space, will meet the same fate. It is not innovative, it is simply repetitive. Google is becoming the great copycat. Google and any other newer social networks that come online in the near future have an actual advantage in the technical side – they can basically copy all of the technical features that their competitors already have – put on a few twists and try to rebrand it as “new and improved”. This is like the Russians and Chinese of old copying almost identically the same product, yet adding a feature or two that made it “different” (and avoiding any lawsuits).
Will Google+ actually work? The people who are really creating the 10 million plus accounts in the last week, since it was introduced by invitation only, are more than likely the people who really just want to see how it works so that they can talk about it, write about it, etc. It will soon see a flatline in memberships.
The next stage in social media, or the Facebook Killer, is not a simple comparison like Facebook taking over the older Myspace space; it is far deeper than this. Facebook took some of the basic ideas of information management on a social scale that Myspace did not “get” (and hence they fell behind on, quickly). Myspace simply did not have nor care to develop the information that was being shared. They lost the social information race before it began.
The step change being proposed by Google+ is simply not big enough for them to be successful, or the Facebook Killer. It was big enough between Myspace and Facebook, however, which solidified Facebook’s success. How did Google, back in the day, beat out the entrenched Yahoo!, among others? The technical chasm to see a new business that surpasses the last King, becomes larger as the space fills with all of the operators out there; Google+ and Facebook and Linkedin included, as they basically are all the same, just a slightly different flavour. In other words, Facebook provided a rethinking of the social process at the time which put them literally years ahead of anything out there online. Google+ is not and cannot do this with their current configuration. Yes, they will match features for features, and have a few unique features themselves, but it is all taken from a page written by Facebook. For that matter, social media by Google+ and Facebook is still part of the older, archaic “information” age; new progress will only be made in the newer “idea” age. Information is the baseline; information evolves into ideas and ideas worth engaging. True social media is about connecting the pools of information into tangible ideas for the members to engage in.
Social Networking has itself flat lined or plateaued. It is, in it’s current configuration, not going to develop any further except for minor feature enhancements. Think of it as adding intermittent wipers or cruise control to your car. Despite the many copycats (and cars) out there. It is, in essence, nothing new. This is the end of the road for social media as we know it, until something changes it into one big idea. The only person or company that will be able to surpass Facebook will require a simple rethinking or realignment of the current way social media is developing and being looked at. It is only through a new fundamental insight that it will even be capable of really changing or evolving. It is not as simple as reconfiguring the information that makes it into social media. The solution can be easy, relatively speaking of course.
The next stage of pure existentialist social media networking will only occur with the rethinking of this space. A new strategic architecture needs to be built. This will include proper inclusion of the people that make the activity in fact social; the ideas and thoughts that draw us all together in the perpetual tribal sharing function that we are entwined in; the use of monetary gains or bonuses for those who do the influencing; and finally, the co-existence of business and brands directly into the fold of the things that we all share as consumers. Only this configuration will become the real Facebook killer; many companies will fail in this space until they see things in this new light. The next big social media step across the chasm will only take place with this shift in the thinking behind the social media space itself.