Google’s Savvy Marketing Launch of Google+

Some quick thoughts from a marketing, PR and ad perspective on Google’s just announced new foray into social networking — the terribly named Google+ (as Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land terms it*).

As I tweeted earlier in the day:

keithtrivitt: Prediction: Ad buyers will be all over Google+. More open analytics plus more targeted networks to tap into http://t.co/usHznta

I like that Google has started out by opening Google+ to only a select few and allowing them to invite their friends. That’s exactly how Gmail started and we all know how massively successful that has proven for the company, and also how much buzz (for lack of a better word and not to be confused with Google’s much maligned former foray into social networking, called … Google Buzz) that built for the company as your friends and colleagues were eager to get a Gmail account before the company made them public a few years back.

From a marketing standpoint, I think Google has hit a home run with its rollout.

I’m also a fan of keeping the social networks you build on Google+ somewhat private and small, at least smaller than those we now have on Facebook. That’s a smart way of:

a) keeping government regulators off the company’s back (especially as it faces not one but two big regulatory investigations, here in the U.S. and a similar but separate investigation by European regulators over anticompetitive practices); and

b) of making the nascent social network far more appealing to marketers. Give an ad buyer a targeted market, combined with Google’s open and deep analytics platform, and the company may have a goldmine on its hands.

That’s not to say this thing will be a huge success right away. It’s Google, after all, and the company has a long history of failing in the social space. But of all its splashy social efforts thus far, this one seems to have the most potential to actually stick and make an impact in the massively growing social space.

What do you think? Is Google+ the next Facebook (or the Facebook killer, if you like), a better and more sustainable Ning or something all together different?

* UPDATE (8:30 a.m. EDT, June 29): The Financial Times summarizes some more excellent analysis from Danny Sullvian of Search Engine Land:

[Google+] has some interesting twists on the social networking model but is far from a Facebook-killer. If you’re already happy using Facebook, you may have no more incentive to use Google’s new social network than someone already happy using Google has to switch over to Bing.

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  • Great post Keith and very insightful observations.  I did not immediately make the connection that Google + will be a haven for marketers to buy ultra targeted ads and leverage the niche communities that will ultimately spring up within the platform and that now seems so obvious since this is could prove to be a huge ad reveune generator for them.  My first thoughts, and the emphasis seems to be on, will this foray by Google challenge Facebook’s prowess as a social media icon?  With Facebook’s 700 million users, it’s awfully hard to make that argument but it is conceivable that they may begin to slowly chip away at the network.  With the failure of Google Wave and the demise of Google Buzz, Google has developed a reputation as not being able to launch these types of platforms successfully so it will be interesting to see how they battle this stigma.   

    • Agrawalniki

       Facebook has a massive share & is liked hugely by the masses. It is tough to compete the biggest social networking fis. That is the reason google was all after acquiring fb. Failing which they have no tried getting into a competition with them. And we offcourse cannot underestimate Google, who has the best manpower, resources, revenue to ring the new sirens….I am desperately waiting to get access to the another competitive social networking platform. 😛

      • I think both of you have hit upon relevant points: 1) That we absolutely can’t underestimate the power and reach of Google. That would simply be foolish, as it simply controls far too much of people’s day-to-day, and often, first interactions on the Web; and 2) Facebook’s stronghold on the social networking space may be too strong now for anyone to ever have a chance of catching up to it.

        But I’m not so sure about that. Many said the same thing about Frienster and MySpace and loook where that has landed both companies. And while, yes, Facebook has huge market penetration now, so did many companies that were once dominant but are now only a shell of their former selves.

        I guess my point is that far too often, the media and tech gurus are too quick to say Facebook will survive forever and no other competitor can ever come on and usurp its dominance. But that’s not really how markets work, no? Even Walmart has felt pressure from Target, CVS and others in recent years. 

  • Anonymous

    I think the better question is will Google’s version become obsolete once facebook launches similar options? Seems like the technology and ideas Google is coming up with are killer, but do people connect with Google the same way they do with facebook?  I don’t think so.  Will be interesting to see if this tips the balance of power though.  

    • Good point, Jason. Like a lot of recent social networking ventures, many have become obsolete, or at least redundant, once Facebook has gotten round to coming out with a better/more functional version of pretty much the same thing.

      Now, the question I have back is can Google play Facebook’s game even better? 

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  • I’m just not sure this will catch on.  There are a few cool features, but not enough to switch over from Facebook.  Facebook works.  Google should stick with what they know, which is search.  

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