Some may argue with me when I say this, but Google knows search. It understands it inside and out and it does search better than most other sites on the internet. Google also does well with it’s apps and I have to say the Droid platform is decent to work with on a smart phone (I had a Motorola Droid, but switched to the iPhone when Verizon offered it).
However, watching Google attempt to do “Social Media”, yet again, is just utterly painful.
The announcement yesterday of the launching of +1 was met with broken embargoes and reporters scrambling to be the first to report about yet another “new” social media ephinany from Google. Trouble is, as online marketers, we’ve been down this road before with Google. In a way watching Google try and catch Facebook in Social Media is a lot like watching Microsoft try and catch Google in search.
For all those joining in late to the online marketing industry and think that Google’s +1 is going to be a “Facebook Killer”, we’ll have to introduce you to the many failed attempts by Google to join in the social media connectedness game so you can get a better understanding, it really isn’t:
- Orkut (yes, it’s still active in Iran & Brazil)
- Search Wiki
- Side Wiki
- Wave (it’s dead dead dead)
- and soon to be Buzz
There’s a reason why Facebook is ahead in this race. Facebook understands that people want to connect, how they like to connect and what they want to connect with. In social media people want to connect and share what they find valuable with their network. In search, people just want to search. They don’t want to share their search results presented to them, they just want to click through and see what’s suppose to be relevant to the term they just searched on. There’s no reason to connect with a search result.
This Isn’t The Answer to the Like Button…It’s a Goldmine for Black Hats
Just like with Search Wiki, searchers can “vote” up their search results. If you were around when this little gem was released by Google there’s no doubt that you ran across search results that were spammed into oblivion by smart programmers finding loop holes that allowed them to exploit the Search Wiki faults. To be honest I don’t have anything against programmers who exploit the giant holes Google has like Search Wiki and Side Wiki and now undoubtedly +1, coming from a programming background I actually understand what motivates them.
Because there’s no reason to be “real” in while searching in Google, the +1 is very exploitable. Just think of all those spammy gmail accounts out there, and then just think how many ‘bot’ programs are out there. Those two thoughts will probably begin to paint a truer picture about how gameable +1 really is.
Now, add in that you can “+1″ a Google Ad? Really a Google Ad, you think a normal person is going to “Vote” that up? What value is there for the common user doing in that?
You Have to Be Real to Get Value From Social Networks
Members of Facebook derive a value from it by being real, being themselves and connecting with their friends. The value of shared experiences is very addicting. Sharing what you find valuable with your friends, family and colleagues is very powerful, especially when you receive affirmation that another person finds this valueable. With Google’s plus one – there’s no affirmation among your friends. Heck you could have a ton of “friends” who are spammers (just like on Twitter) and you’ll never get any kind of validation that your true friends, family or colleagues find the same value as you. That in essence is a lonely island that no one wants to be part of.
With Google’s “Plus One” (or is it +1?), there’s no real feel of joining a greater community and there’s no sense of obvious reward as there is with Facebook or even a site like Digg. In Facebook, if I go to CNN and like an article it tells me X many of my friends like it too. These are real friends or community members actively engaging and likely I’ve engaged with myself on some level. How can Google give me that same value when I use +1? They can’t.
And that’s why, just like all the other efforts they tried, this will eventually fail as well (unless they build a true community around it - supposedly that’s coming in the future).
One Last Thought: Is +1 a Smoke Screen for the Demise of Google Buzz?
In all of this hullabaloo around +1 launching you might have missed that Google got smacked down rather heavily by the FTC for Google Buzz (which essentially is just about the same thing at the heart of it, as +1). Google has to not only pay a fine, but refine and revamp its privacy policies an initiatives, along with agreeing to go along with auditing for the next 20 years. While people scream about Facebook giving too much information, the FTC actually did something about Google’s privacy violations with Buzz. This news, for the most part, seemed to be swept under the carpet for the “Facebook Killer” (not really) story of the launch of +1.
We’ve been here before. We heard the hype with Search Wiki, Knoll, Wave and most recently Google Buzz. Has Google created an actually community of users that willingly share their information like the do on Facebook? No.
Until they do, anything Google does in Social is just another flash in the pan that will sizzle out and smoke until they pull the plug on it, yet again.
*For the record, I truly respect and admire Fantomaster. I consider him one of our industry’s great mentors, and yes I have his permission to use his tweets as quotes.