GooglePlus, Where are we now? Fornicating around with Facebook
The title is a misnomer, it’s not just Google and Facebook but they are certainly the most guilty. Way back in Social Media time Eric Schmidt said to wait until early Spring 2012 and “we’ll see the results of the Google Product Roadmap” which implied there was a plan: a strategy. Now it’s early Spring 2012 and I think we can all see what the ‘plan’ is: Respond to competitors and shoot from the hip. In my world, that’s NOT a plan, that’s flawed tactics and it doesn’t bode well for marketing professionals or developers.
Facebook introduced the new “timeline” on personal pages and then last month rolled it out for branded pages. In reality, that big old ‘canvas’ picture at the top of the page wasn’t Facebook’s idea. Those folks over at Path already had that feature and a few others. Path is somewhat unique. It purports to limit the number of people you can connect with and cites Dunbar’s Number as the rationale. Because of the limited number of people whom you can connect with, Path may never have the user scale that Facebook has or Google+ hopes to have one day. But, Path has a core tenet and mission that promises to be make social relationships more meaningful by forcing you to choose your friends wisely. That’s a different roadmap than Facebook and Google Plus which is all about more user acquisition.
So what did Google Plus do in the past few days? They upset the applecart and moved all the button tools around and made the pictures bigger. Kinda reminds me of a not-so-old iteration that Facebook had, and, at this rate of change, it will probably change again and one day look like Path as well. I get the change. I realize that when you map out a function strategy that the user interface will probably change over time. However, if your look and feel causes “Developers cry foul after Google+ redesign breaks their apps and extensions” then you could not have mapped out a function strategy especially when your response is basically “We don’t support the API we put out there”
If that where the only issue at G+ it might not be so bad. However, when the data I recently read is telling us that ‘time on site” over at G+ is about 3.5 minutes/month that becomes a concern for marketers. Google has taken their eye off the ball. They’ve become too diversified. I seem to recall Lee Iacocca once saying “Do one thing and do it right” and soon after Jack Welch said “your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.” and proceeded to get GE back onto their core competencies.
Why is it glaringly apparent that Google has taken their eye off the ball? Well, there’s that small video sharing company that they own called YouTube that sees something like 3 BILLION views per day that’s still not part of G+. There offensive product line offering is spread thin. They’ve got Android hardware, Television hardware, robotically driven cars and, of course, search. Lots of balls in the air. In order to show shareholder value they need to look at really really big numbers. Those big numbers like 838 Million users over at Facebook (and counting) prompt knee jerk responses to grow the ‘user base’ volume. It’s “quantity” vs “quality’ issue that confronts many companies at some point and right now “quantity” seems to be the priority.
Pictures, Images & Video: why that’s important.
What’s really amazing is that Google hasn’t realized that YouTube is one of it’s most powerful assets. For any marketer who’s been at the game for a while already knows about that Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) stuff. Television is such great medium because it grabs the visual and auditory folks in one big scoop. It seemed as if Google realized this with the added emphasis on “images” in Search. But if that where the case then Vimeo would not be gripping marketshare from Gen Z & Gen Y and Vevo would not be such a big upstart.
Facebook certainly is promoting images and video to brands to encourage engagement. But then we have Yahoo. Yahoo is also in the middle of some knee jerk reactions to it’s last several years of poor decision making. Instead of jumping on Flikr, which for the longest time was the king of the hill in images, and enhancing it’s usability it’s elected to hire a bunch of patent trolls to sue everyone they can to get cash. So where are we at?
- Facebook is encouraging more picture and video sharing to the point of spending $1B for a company with 40M users, no revenue stream and no real monetization strategy.
- Google has not integrated YouTube and Picassa, well, seriously? You want me to install software that probably tracks everything on my computer? Is it 1995? I thought we had moved everything to cloud storage folks.
- Yahoo had a leg up on images and the legal eagle vultures are running the roost.
Back to the Future
So where does all of this leave us? What’s the roadmap for marketers? Ever so slowly the walled and gated communities are going up. The foundation for closed ecosystems has begun. Remember way back when AOL tried telling everyone that their closed ecosystem was ‘safer’ than the big old bad internet and that they protected you? We’re seeing the beginnings of that again. Facebook is limiting it’s API functionality. Google is already showing their face of the future for developer relationships and where they believe “we’re bigger and we know better.” So what’s that mean? Give it some time for the walls to grow a bit higher and then look for someone to come along like Marc Andreesen and build a modern day Mosiac.