In late June 2011, Google announced their latest plans for a social media network with the launch of Google + (also called “Google Plus”). Many are asking if Google has the ability to take on a social media giant like Facebook. We see the motivation behind this launch in a different light.
This is not Google’s first foray into the social media space. Their past efforts with “Buzz” and Google Wave were not successful, and one wonders why they continue trying. In fact, many so called “experts” are hinting that if Google fails in their social media efforts, it may mark the beginning of the end for Google. We just don’t see this happening.
The Online Goliaths
Google’s domination of search is well documented and they currently control about 65% of the search marketing space. Facebook, on the other hand, surpassed Google as the most visited website in the U.S. in early 2010, and has not looked back. In spite of this, Google still owns the “Search” world where most online conversions take place. Facebook, on the other hand, owns the “Friends” world, where fewer online transactions happen.
Recent revenue estimates indicate that with Search and Social combined, Google had over four times the projected revenues of the social networks; Facebook, Twitter and Groupon – combined. This alone makes one wonder why Google would be working so hard at capturing a share of the Social Media space. The return on investment for Google to capture 23% of the social media world seems like small potatoes for Google. It just doesn’t make sense for the “experts” to say that “overtaking Facebook” is Google’s primary objective here.
What is Google’s Motivation?
Google is likely looking at social media circles in order to keep up to date with conversations taking place in the Social Media world, and most likely so that they can continue to track conversations related to current topics, as well as maintain visibility into who the experts (influencers) are in the social media circles. Social media has become more and more about current topics, social influence and subject matter experts, and Google seems to understand this well.
How Does Google Measure Relevant Content?
Historically, Google has followed links and content in order to locate and measure the most relevant content and subjects discussed today. They also look at the credibility of links connecting to that content (Page Rank) in order to identify content experts and influencers.
How Social Media Has Impacted Google
In order for search to work, Google must be able to freely access all web content and links, including social media. Unfortunately, for Google, most social media sites have now implemented tighter security measures due to privacy concerns. These types of security measures ends up placing Google outside of the social media fortress, with no way to get inside and “crawl” the content, links and influencers. (Google has no ability to crawl a password protected web site without the permission of the site).
The Social Media Fortress
Without access to password protected social media sites, Google has been forced to reinvent itself and do one of two things: the first being to develop long lasting relationships with social media networks like Facebook (which they have had little success doing); or secondly, to create their own social media network and drive more traffic to it via Google applications.
Google’s Social Media Solution
Google has apparently decided to create their own social media network through with latest initiative, Google +. With Google+, Google has a social network that they can measure topic relevance and influencers in order identify links to the most socially relevant content online. For Google, this initiative seems to be more about improving their search algorithm, and less about the dominance of Social Media. We’ll see how this works for them in the weeks and months to follow.