[Posted by Alexis Karlin
Digital Marketing Specialist, Neolane, Inc.]
After trying to digest the flood of news stories and blog posts analyzing the Google+ launch yesterday, I wanted to add my perspectives, specifically from the digital marketing vantage point. For many marketers who are already working diligently to engage and build valuable long-term relationships with customers across multiple social channels, the question about the role Google+ can (or will) play in the mix is clearly one that will take some time to figure out. But let’s start here: The notion that Google is coming out with a new social network does not shock me. And not just because the company has been in the news about the incentives it has been giving employees, but also because Google has their hands in virtually everything. After seeing many failed attempts at trying to draw honey out of the pot, I am yet again skeptical. First let’s look back and remember the failed attempts – Google Health and Google Buzz, for example.
Let’s move on to what I think will help Google+ succeed, and what will make it fail.
In Josh Bernoff’s recent post about Google+, he states that “the fix” with this new social network is the ability to select circles to share certain posts and content with. I couldn’t agree more. Although Facebook attempted this functionality through Friend Lists and Groups, the main issue is that in order for it to be completely walled you have to set a privacy setting for each group or list, who has the time for that?
The description for Sparks peaks my curiosity, “Tell Sparks what you’re into and it will send you stuff it thinks you’ll like, so when you’re free, there’s always something cool to watch, read, or share.” I would like information I’m interested in to be delivered to me when I want it but I’m wondering, will this be sent via email? And what is going to be sent to me? I’m not really sure I want more spam in my inbox. However, if this is done right, especially in terms of recipients being able to select communications channel preferences, this could be very valuable to marketers.
A mass exodus from Facebook could be an issue for that new social network because of the emergence of Google+ as a potentially formidable competitor. Especially as people become more Facebook Fatigued, Google+ might be the next plausible solution for existing Gmail, Picasa, and Google Docs users. A final consideration that could negatively impact adoption however is that people might hesitate to join because they are worried Google will “know too much” about their habits, location and preferences. With the right safeguards and privacy setting in place however, gaining a more holistic view of users is certainly something marketers would be interested in.
Due to Google’s recent track record with not following through on new ideas, in the end it’s up to Google to make this project succeed. And not following in the footsteps of Facebook’s recent mistakes will also help this recent venture. For example, making privacy settings complex, changing the interface without notifying or testing with the community, or the recent increase in spam accounts.
As Bernoff concludes in his piece, “I think you can safely ignore Google+ for at least 12 months.” We agree that realistically it may be a while before we really know what the fate of Google+ will be, or how marketers will truly be able to engage customers and prospects through it, but it will certainly be fun to watch.
Do you have any predictions to share about how marketers may be able to benefit from Google+? Share them here!