We have heard for over a year now about the launch of a Google social platform. The name of choice for those pontificating on this subject is “Google Me” or even “Social Circles” has recently curried favor. Is it really coming in one big launch or is it a combination of smaller pieces that will all add up to a complete social solution?
Understanding Google Social
The Google social platform will be a little different. Google is driven by relevance and openness. We believe there will not be a big launch of a comprehensive and definitive “Google” social platform. It is more likely to be a creeping roll-out like an incoming tide. Effected through the socialization of search Google Me (or something) will develop as a social medium by which users can communicate and socialize within the Google network. This slow roll-out is potentially driven by the risk to Google in the anti trust arena. Rightly or wrongly the Federal Trade Commission has recently launched an anti trust suit against Google. Googles position is clear – their search engine is focused on providing relevant results as quickly as possible for searchers (to quote from their official Google blog) “Using Google is a choice—and there are lots of other choices available to you for getting information: other general-interest search engines, specialized search engines, direct navigation to websites, mobile applications, social networks, and more.” Google mentions social networks as an alternative choice for getting information online. So it makes sense that its probably not in their best interest to launch a massive social network. Google is socializing a little at a time. Maybe they will sneak in under the radar.
Google Social Search
The socialization of search has already started for Google. The results you receive as the result of a search are deemed as more relevant if your friends found them interesting. You will see search results where the following online interactions by your friends are reflected:
- Websites, blogs, and other online content your friends have shared or created
- Images that are shared by your social connections
- Relevant articles from your Google Reader subscriptions
- Profiles of people you know beneath results for social sites like Twitter and Flickr
- Web content that has been recommended or shared by others using the +1 button
Google believes that reviews and information from your friends is more important than generic reviews. For example you are more likely to trust say a vacation spot recommendation from a friend online than from someone you don’t know. This trusted information is being integrated into search results.
Youtube was purchased by Google in 2006. Its really just a social platform filled with users. Google needed to link these new users to Google and somewhere in 2009 new Youtube users were required to link their Google account to their Youtube account. Comscore recently credited Google sites with over a billion visitors way ahead of Facebook, in no small part due to Youtube. The growth of Youtube was highlighted in march this year by a staff increase of over a third. This addition is probably the biggest single contributor to Google socialization and; of course; revenue.
Me on the Web
Google launched “Me on the Web” recently. It helps monitor your content on the web. You can set up “Me on the Web” through a new subsection in your Google Dashboard, which manages all the different Google products you use. The new feature isn’t much different than Google Alerts, but now it’s wrapped in a user-friendly and privacy-conscious package. You could add to this Google Social Circle it keeps track of your contacts within Google. It has also spawned a potential name for the next Google social platform.
Is there one big missing piece that is going to pull it all together? Or will it be a series of individual components that when all added together will one day be a social solution from Google? We favor the latter – how about you?