Google’s launch of Google+ has been met mostly with excitement. Users that have been fortunate enough to receive an invite and use it have mostly enjoyed it. Others have migrated entirely away from Facebook to Google+ for good. So far, it has been an overall success. Something that their CEO, Larry Page, is banking on.
Still, some people are wondering just where, exactly, Google+ fits into the realm of social media. Is it a supposed to supplement Facebook? Is it supposed to replace Facebook?
But at this point you’re probably still wondering, how does Twitter, the other social media juggernaut fit into all of this?
Well, while Facebook and Google+ are currently duking it out in the main arena, Twitter is quietly remaining the go-to solution for micro blogging, witty jokes or quirky status updates. Simply put, while Facebook and Google are attempting to dethrone one another as the primary source for everyone’s social networking needs, Twitter has been quietly plugging along in the background. And that’s something that has definitely worked out well for them. It’s also something that Google could certainly stand to learn and benefit from.
1. Simplicity is Good
Recently, I spoke about how Apple has found immense success by making products that are both well designed and simple. Ease of use is extremely important. Afterall, first impressions are made very, very quickly. The last thing that Google can afford is to alienate potential users with a confusing, hard to navigate user interface. As Twitter has shown, simplicity is what attracts users and ultimately gives people an incentive to use an application. And Twitter, for the most part, is easy to navigate, utilize and understand.
Fortunately, Google definitely took a note or three from Facebook in designing their user interface. They look extremely similar, so transitioning from one to the other shouldn’t involve too much of a learning curve for most people. But beyond that, Google+ also limits the extent with which users can customize their page layout. Users can include whoever they want into their circles and customize their news feed, but beyond that they have very limited control over the look of their page. If MySpace has proven anything, it’s that giving users too much control over their personal page can often be a bad thing.
2. Fitting Into a Niche Is Okay
What Twitter has proven, time and time again, is that being another social network that serves an entirely different function is perfectly okay. In fact, being different (and simple) can probably be attributed as the primary reason for Twitter’s success. With that said, Google+ is in an excellent position to supplement Facebook or even find its own entirely different niche. Currently, tech savvy individuals are using all three services: Google+ for specific groups of possibly tech savvy friends, Facebook for their other friends and Twitter for news and other interesting tidbits of information. Unfortunately, Google’s objective with their social network doesn’t appear to simply be to complement Facebook. They want to overtake it as the world’s largest social network.
Still, that’s an extremely lofty goal and something that most likely won’t occur anytime soon. That’s why it’s important for Google+ to stay humble and embrace what it is currently: A great way for people to share and communicate with particular friends in groups. That’s an aspect that Facebook has tried to implement before, but failed. Ultimately, that subtle difference is what makes Google+ such an alluring thing, and even if people continue to use their Facebook account along with Google+, that’s something that Google should be okay with.
3. Don’t Alienate Users With Invasive Ads
Upon the release of their ‘quick bar’ for their iOS app, Twitter quickly realized that simply slapping ads — in this case, promoted trends — onto their website and applications and calling it a day would not be a viable solution for monetization. Users were extremely upset, and some even labeled it the ‘Dick Bar’ after Twitter COO Dick Costolo. But just as soon as they placed it into the iOS app, they just as quickly removed it, responding to all of the negative feedback in the best way possible.
Google should realize that now, they have to be in this for the long run. Fortunately, they are a huge company with more than enough money to continually plug away at Google+ without the necessity to monetize right away. That’s important. But it’s also important that when they do go about monetizing, much like how Twitter settled on promoted tweets, they do it in an unobtrusive manner. The last thing a potentially huge social network wants to do is alienate and potentially turn away users with repulsive, annoying advertising.
But to their credit, Google is an intelligent company. True, they have had their fair share of failed products, as have most hugely successful companies. But now isn’t the time to for them to make brash decisions. They are in a unique position in that most people that actually use Google+ seem to love it and have a reason to continue using it. Now, Google just has to remain humble and continue to innovate. They don’t have to mimic Facebook. Everyone already has a Facebook. In Google’s case, being just slightly different might ultimately be their saving grace.
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