Why Google+ has a fighting chance of social media success
In a recent article, we looked at some obstacles Google+ would have to overcome. We also looked at how Google+ might maim (as opposed to kill) Twitter. I don’t think Twitter’s going to die anytime soon, but Google+ is already taking away a lot of people’s Twitter time. Something’s got to give somewhere, and more people simply just have more invested in Facebook – their network of real friends, their photos, games, etc. Robert Scoble says Google+ is already making Twitter more boring. Could it do the same to Facebook?
Google Developer advocate Don Dodge recently ran down a step-by-step process for getting your Facebook Friends on Google+. Of course you could simply send them invites. We recently looked at how to transfer your photos from Facebook to Google+. Speaking of photos, the Google+ mobile app makes it very easy to use Google as your photo album of choice, with the instant upload feature.
Games are a huge part of Facebook’s appeal for many users. Both Facebook and Google know the significance of gaming to social network success. In a new addendum to Zynga’s (makers of Farmville, Cityville, Mafia Wars, etc.) S-1 filing, it was revealed that games built with any Facebook integration or data must be exclusive to Facebook for the duration of the two companies’ five-year agreement. At SXSW in March, Manny Anekal, Zynga’s Director of Brand Advertising, said that 1 in 5 Americans play Zynga games. I can’t confirm this, but…wow.
Meanwhile, Google has been placing a fair amount of emphasis on gaming itself. Last summer, it acquired social gaming companies Slide and SocialDeck. Chrome users may have noticed some heavy promotion of Angry Birds as well. In fact, there are plenty of other non-Google games making their way into Google’s Chrome web store, not to mention the Android market. Google controls the Chrome and Android platforms obviously, so who’s to say where this could lead in Google+-related gaming. Remember Google+ is largely about the ID element – who you’re signed into these games as.
Even If You Don’t Have a G+ Account, You’re Still a User
One of the most important things Google+ has going for it is that it is simply part of Google, and there’s a good chance you already have a Google account. Google+ simply adds features on top of it. In other words, you’re already a member in some ways. What happens when this “field testing” phase of Google+ is over? Will it simply just be there on all of the Google properties you use?
Look at this new user interface Google is testing for its search results pages. This at least partially illustrates how Google may keep Google+ in front of you all the time. Even as you scroll down through search results, the navigation bar at the top (as well as the left panel) stay put Now, it’s not visible in the video, but when you’re signed up for Google+, it’s part of that top black bar. There’s a tab for “username” which goes to your Google+ stream, and there’s a share box. Now picture the same thing on Gmail, Google Docs, Google Reader, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa web albums, etc. it keeps the Google+ experience with you if you’re a Google user, and last time I checked, Google had more than a few users. They also have more potentially important emerging products such as Google Offers and Google Wallet, which will also be integrated with Google+.
Google is even making News more social. Last week they launched News badges, turning news consumption into something of a game. Then there’s the “sparks” feature of Google+ – a content discovery feature that could rival StumbleUpon, aimed at “sparking” conversations on Google+.
We’re in the very early stages here too. The mobile app (for Android) has already been key in my own use, and I’m sure that goes for other Android users. Now it just became available for the iPhone. It would also be surprising if Google didn’t put out some browser extensions for Google+ making that share box and steam available as you browse the rest of the web. See something cool on Facebook? Past the link in the share box at the top of the page to share with the appropriate circle. If Google doesn’t do this itself, someone will.