Launching a social network is to some extent a bit of a chicken and egg scenario these days, as you need people to encourage the businesses to get involved, but businesses can also attract more people.
This morning Google launched the metaphorical egg in their social network chicken and egg scenario – they launched ‘Google+ Pages’ as a means for businesses to join Google+. The question now is: if businesses join Google+, will it encourage more people to join and utilise the network?
If Google ranks Google+ pages highly for branded searches, people will be directed to Google+ from Google’s search engines. If Google integrates Google Places/Local Deals into Google+, then Google may prioritise Google+ Pages for local searches.
Google receive over 400 million search queries a day – that’s a big opportunity that Google are only just beginning to tap into as a means for driving traffic to Google+.
For Google+ to take off, people need to rely on or even need a Google+ account to get the most out of the web. As Google already own a large proportion of the web’s staple services, it makes a lot of sense for Google to integrate those services into Google+ and make them better for people using the network, as an incentive to join Google+. They also need a significant amount of regular traffic, which again is unlikely to be a major problem for Google.
Currently, Google+ Pages are incredibly similar to Facebook Pages, with very few improvements other than the ability to easily segment who sees your updates (which I think is a pretty cool feature). However, the bigger picture is that beyond all the little features, Google has the ability to make businesses need a page.
If Google integrated other Google Services into Google+ then…
• Google+ could be a localised social network with the integration of Google Places and Local Deals.
• Google+ could integrate Google Analytics into Pages, which is infinitely more powerful and insightful than Facebook Insights.
• Your Google+ page will rank higher than your Facebook Page in Google for your brand name.
So where is Google+ and will it be the next Facebook / Twitter?
There’s no doubting that Google+ have messed up on a lot of the details (no setting for multiple administrators? No branded URLs?), but the bigger picture is that if Google really want to make this work, they can.
Google+ has not taken off yet because there is not enough stickiness. They need to integrate services that offer continued value for the user when they log in. When a social network gets its users to reach a ‘no return point’, the social network has won.
Ask yourself, could you delete your Twitter or Facebook profile today? For the majority of us probably not, because they provide value in one form or another. Google+ just needs to start serving up the value, which will inevitably be in the form of improving the web for people.