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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*).
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.