Maybe Google Just Doesn't Know How to Innovate for Social
We all know that there are many brilliant people working at Google. The company is extremely well known for its amazing search and advertising technology, both of which use complex algorithms to come to decisions. It has even been said that Google also uses algorithms to (help?) make executive decisions. While Google’s success has been phenomenal, the company’s recent ventures into social haven’t been a huge hit despite what Larry Page is saying about Google+ user numbers.
The problem isn’t design and it isn’t lack of demand — it’s lack of interest. But why? Why aren’t people finding Google+ interesting and/or worth using?
Google hasn’t provided useful innovation. Don’t listen to what Google employees are saying about the so called “innovation” they have come up with in Google+.
The features Google+ offers which it considers innovative (e.g. Circles, Hangouts) aren’t. They are just basic features slightly rethought.
So what kind of innovation am I talking about then? Here’s an example: you know why Google search is truly innovative even to this day? Because no company has been able to match it — it’s just that awesome. The same can be said about their AdWords/AdSense platforms. That’s innovation.
Right now, Google is just one-upping Facebook with a feature modification, only to then have to play catch up once Facebook offers a similar feature. And you know what? With Facebook this far ahead in the game, Google+ will never catch up to them playing that game. Google needs to truly innovate for social the same way they did for search.
Easier said than done.
The thing is when it comes to being social you really need more human elements and less computers (algorithms). I think Facebook gets that. I don’t think Google does yet.
If Larry Page is as hell bent on beating Facebook in social as all these articles I’m reading say he is, then he needs to re-imagine social the same way he did with search.
One more thing.
Larry, Vic, and Google+ team: I keep hearing from you that you have all these great things planned for Google+, however, I keep coming back to the feeling you guys just don’t know how to innovate when it comes to social. If you did, you should have all of those wonderful innovations in Google+ on launch day. First impressions are important (especially when your competitor is already so well established) with people (it’s a social thing) and despite your G+ sign up numbers, the extremely low time on site statistic just shows that your first impression was a bad one.
You guys are Google, you can get people to try out your new products easily, but if you want them to continue to use them every day that first impression is just so vital. When people tried Google search and Gmail the first time they were blown away — it was so much better than anything they had ever seen before. Gmail was able to crush Hotmail (a well established competitor) and catch Yahoo Mail because of true innovation and an awesome first impression. You could have done the same with Google+ but you blew that opportunity. It’s going to be very tough to convince people to come back now.
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