Google’s recent announcement of its yet to be publically unveiled social networking site Google + is a welcome addition to the social networking space. Primarily focused on clawing back from the competitive pressures of the success of Facebook, Google realizes it need to establish itself in social networking/social media space as one of the fundamentals it must address in this ever evolving marketplace.
As some one who works in search engine marketing & social media marketing there are a few things I’d like to see Google accomplish that will clearly differentiate it from Facebook.
Create an environment that encourages sharing
The main reason Facebook is so successful is that it has created a platform and environment for bounteous sharing. Recall that according to StarCom MediaVest Group and Rubicom Partners, nearly half of all content sharing happening in Facebook. Quite a feat! Google should move in the same direction with its terms of: creation of an atmosphere that is sharing positive, is very easy of use and is noticeably integrated with other Google services.
Offer enhanced & integrated social media marketing options
Coupling together Google’s suite of marketing & advertising solutions from AdWords PPC, to Youtube, to Google Buzz, Google Picasa, Google Blogger allow Google a powerful set of options to anyone looking to market through search engine marketing or social media. Envisioning them integrated and enhanced can only prove to be an ever more powerful platform.
Offer users better privacy options
It would be hard to do worse than Facebook on the issue of privacy. With numerous onerous incidents Facebook has shown it will not address the privacy issues in any salient way. Personally, I see this as a great opportunity for Google + to do just the opposite. As current press indicates Google plans to do just that but I’d like to see it take leadership in the market in this space.
Give users control of IP (Intellectual Property)
Many websites like Facebook directly or indirectly take ownership of user generated content. Users are generally unaware of these issues of the potential consequences. For example if you take a look at Facebook terms of service you will read the following excerpt from the Facebook Terms of Service: “you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”).”
User generated content is the mainstay of these social sites and drives their revenues by targeted advertisements based upon it. But shouldn’t users have a choice as to how their content is treated and the type of license it might use? YouTube just went in this direction with the addition of Creative Commons and I think it would be a smart direction for Google +. Users will share even more if they feel their rights and choices are respected rather than scorned. Users should be able to choose how they share their content (what every key license they see fit) and control their own IP (Intellectual Property). Giving users this choice doesn’t conflict with its business model so its a win for consumers and a win for Google.
With the departure of the venerable Eric Schmidt as CEO there was an admission of a lack of focus on the social opportunity at Google. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new era of Google & social networking. Google + could turn out to be a very good thing.