Google dominates not just search but also our lives. Whether its locating movie times, checking weather, shopping for car insurance, looking for a good book, spying on a neighbour or just about anything else legal and semi-illegal the big G is there to accommodate our instant pleasures. However when it comes to social media can Google ever overtake Facebook or Twitter in their respective social media roles?
The answer is no however that’s assuming social media will stay the same. Social media needs to evolve and Google has the power to do just about anything. It’s not of a question of if Google can become the leader in social media but how.
In some ways this challenge is almost the equivalent of betting on BING to surpass Google in search share or a Microsoft media player surpassing iPod Sales. Impossible to think of but actually very possible indeed – well, except in Microsoft’s case.
What Google needs to do is focus the brilliant talent they retain on creating something new – a better version of the wheel one could say. Facebook, Google and Twitter have all benefited from first mover advantage (although GOTO and a few others did try to conquer search before the G guys) however the main ideas of social media have been established and its now time to create something special. There is no need to reinvent the wheel but it is critical to develop something that is less related to search and primarily on social media.
Google Buzz, for example, is more or less an addition to your Gmail or Google account but not viewed as an independent platform for social media by many. Facebook, Twitter and Google are not just separated by what they do but also defined as individual brands. Anything Google does to compliment existing Google Account services may never ever become the awe-inspiring social media tool they dream of.
What can Google do to conquer social media?
In my opinion they need to first create a new brand primarily for this social media project and not focus on complimenting additional Google services to it. Although the roads are lined with gold when you have users undertake everything within one Google account the exclusivity and uniqueness associated with Facebook and Twitter have been core principal factors to their success. Google needs to view this next jump to social media as an independent project and create a new brand (powered by Google) but with a look and feel entirely independent from the typical Google feel, much like YouTube.
Secondly, Google needs to go all in and take the best of Facebook and Twitter, add more functions and allow users to do everything they want to do but do it now. Facebook is such a simple idea yet upgrading the platform takes time. Dedicating the Google resources to develop an independent brand which does not just what Facebook and Twitter do, but what they want to do, can be replicated practically overnight and having a system in BETA for years or months on end simply continues the journey of chasing market share.
Thirdly, make money later. New users do not want ads for cheap car insurance, low mortgage rates or how to find singles. Deep down we might but Zuckerberg had it right, build it first and people will come. You can find a way to monetise later. The good news is you already have this piece so just put it aside for a moment and build the platform specifically as you would use it at home.
Social media is not just about sharing pictures, commenting, poking or friending people but it’s a mixture of news, love, friendships, charity, celebrity and more. If Google could take the power they have to embrace all of these things and do it better than Facebook or Twitter then they will win. However, a brand needs to be separate and solely dedicated to this venture.
Google is so well established as the search leader in this world that the challenge to conquer social media is uphill but unlike the possibility of Nike ever leading the sale of digital cameras, Google is synonymous with the internet and when it comes to social media Google could be king.
Larry certainly has his work cut out for him when it comes to building the social media empire but unlike other people who have dreams all the data and dots are there on the walls of Mountain View, CA.
My only advice to Google.
Become a new you.
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