Posted by Hannah Conrad on April 8th, 2011
And the list goes on and on. All of these various social networks that seem to be multiplying on a consistent basis in an attempt to tap every part of your everyday life, all require yet another profile and a new way to connect with friends, colleagues or even just others who share the same interests. This over saturation can be both overwhelming and exhausting, and at the same time, it all seems to be a little redundant. Will all of these various one off networks stand the test of time? Probably not.
However, there is a very good reason why there are so many new social networks emerging, on what seems like a daily basis, it is because people and companies have realized the impact of this new form of communication and everyone wants a piece of the pie. This includes already successful and well known companies who seem to be feeling like they somehow got left behind and are worried they may be too late to get in on the new media surge.
For example, Google has made it obvious that they do not want to be left behind in the social media bandwagon dust. After the release of Buzz, that seems to have missed the mark, Google announced today the promotion of six new Senior Vice Presidents including Vic Gundotra, the new SVP of Social.
“While Google is in very good shape by almost any standard, the rise of Facebook and its failure in social has scared it so much that all employee bonuses will be determined by the success of its social media initiatives. Fixing Google’s social strategy is a big reason why Larry Page is now CEO.”
We all know that Google wants a piece of the social network pie, but there are simply no pieces left. Or are there? Maybe the problem is not that there are there are no pieces of pie left, but rather that Google is looking for pie in the wrong kitchen.
As already stated, the everyday social network user is overwhelmed with the number of social networking platforms. In order to reach the average user, Google needs to take an indirect route. How can they do this? Google has its eyes on overtaking Facebook and winning the hearts of the consumer. The problem is, we are all too in love with Facebook to let that happen. Google has to get us to love them on the social level in another way. When we were discussing the Mashable article this morning, we realized that the average user does not have a social networking life while at work. For many of us, as employees, we do not encounter a social network each day on the professional level. Unless you are a social media specialist like we are, while at work, you probably only take a quick peek at your Facebook on your lunch break and maybe sneak a tweet in here or there, but otherwise, being on social networks while on the clock is a company no-no.
Google has an opportunity here. If Google could make an outstanding, kickass internal social platform for business, it might be able to win us over. There are several companies offering internal social platforms for business: Yammer, Chatter, Convofy, and Socialcast (to name a few). The problem though, is that you cannot use all of the features for free. One of our biggest pet peeves about personal social platforms is when they ask you to pay. For example, on an individual user basis, you can’t send an InMail message on LinkedIn to someone you are not connected to without upgrading to a paid account. Facebook on the other hand lets you do this. Facebook got it right. If you want us to truly love something, you have to give all of its features to us for free. Money comes later.
Here is what we would suggest to Google. Google should provide a free internal social networking platform for businesses. Offer it to each company as a single secure account with logins for each employee. They need to make it useful and productive to business in order to get companies to adopt it. More importantly, they must add an element that ignites a love for the platform that causes the individual employee to crave it. If Google can win us over as employees in the workplace, then perhaps we will be more open when they release the same social platform for us as consumers. Offer the platform as a product for businesses, use that niche route, and when it takes off, fork to the right into the heart of the individual consumer.
The best part about this is that Google has the perfect stage to test such a platform—its own company and its own employees. If Google can get it to work for their business and at the same time, get the employees to individually love and use it on a consistent basis, then we the public probably would too.
What do you think? Does Google stand a chance at successfully entering the social networking market?