A regular review of interesting cultural shifts & marketing developments as viewed through the collective lens of the Stancombe Research + Planning Team

Monday, September 26, 2011

Social Networking, Social Marketing, Socialising, The 200lb Gorilla and The Google Bomb

facebook presently boast 750 million users and has had a major impact on the way that individuals and marketing professionals have used the internet.

There have been some casualties along the way, teenage house parties getting out of hand and naive individuals accidentally compromising careers by inept commentary, but 750 million people does mean that it is a force to be reckoned with.

Socialising and business has evolved since facebook arrived on the scene. Individuals, clubs and social groups have rapidly adopted facebook as a means of communication. facebook has responded with features to meet these needs, chat and calendars are an obvious example of features designed to meet the needs of social groups and clubs.

facebook has become so useful that a significant number of clubs and groups have reported that they have migrated most of their communications onto facebook, replacing traditional newsletters with web based updates and in some cases, moving totally completely away from their ‘traditional’ websites to facebook.

facebook has had a huge impact on the social lives of individuals and social groups but many businesses is still grappling with how to obtain a reasonable ROI from it. Businesses have found facebook more difficult to utilise, many businesses have only taken up facebook pages as internet placeholders rather that active utilisation of the medium.

However, some business are obtaining value from social media. We notice for example that 7 – Eleven were recently conducting a straw poll on a new dark chocolate Cherry Ripe product on it’s facebook site the other day while offering the product as a two for one promotion in it’s retail outlets. An interesting use of social media to report on product testing.

facebook advertising does seem to work in directing consumers to other areas of facebook although extracting users from facebook and directing them to other parts of the internet is still a much greater challenge.

facebook is clearly the 200lb internet gorilla and now the Google Bomb in the form of Google+ has finally opened up it’s doors

Google+ has been beta testing for over 3 months and currently boasts 25 million users. It is estimated that there are around 200 million Gmail accounts worldwide – all of which are eligible for Google+ accounts. In addition there is also a massive installed base of Blogger, YouTube and Picasa account holders.

Let us also not forget that Google offers a whole bunch of cloud based business software tools that are positioned to compete and possibly replace the Microsoft Office suite of products and the Android mobile phone (and tablet) operating system.

So Google is here, banging on the facebook door. Clearly the opportunity for Google is to create a killer location for people to meet, greet and exchange useful digital ‘stuff’.

The big question that is being asked right now is ‘has Google got it right?’ or will Google+ go the way of Google Buzz, a dud sharing application that I deleted from my Gmail suite of accounts just the other day or Google Wave, another group sharing application that never really had the useability required to give it the required momentum.

Useability is what it is all about because the value of facebook is to perform in a manner that is more effective than communicating by email or text. I have been trying Google+ for a few days now and guess what – I can’t make it do what I want it to.

I can’t find other people outside of my immediate social circle with similar interests. I can’t create a tangible open group of people with those interests in order to communicate with them and to date, there is no event calendar.

Either I am missing something really significant or Google+ needs a number of significant feature upgrades to avoid it becoming just another Google bomb!

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