Will Google+ be a serial killer?

26th July 2011 | By Mouseworld Now Correspondent | Comments Off

The first day in college, the first day in a nation’s life, or the first day in a tabloid’s life always bears an uncanny importance for the subjects themselves. So is the case with Mouseworldnow.com.

The Mouse has taken birth and has just learned to squeak. Hark! Oh! Listen. It has a promise to make – a promise to be candid, fearless and the quickest to keep you abreast of the events of the mouse world, as and when they occur.

Meanwhile a lot is at stake on the digital fight rings; Nokia battles smartphone-fury heaped on it by Apple; Google eyes desperately to take ever-eluding Facebook by surprise; and the Mouse beeps to take stock of the world where the only constant is Flux.

Forgive Facebook, if you can, if they woke up this morning thinking the sky was falling and if they were subject to the same flurry of news, comments and questions about Google+ as the rest of us were these last couple of days. If Facebook needs any reminder how quickly social networking leaders can loose ground, then MySpace provides the finest example. Google+ was launched exactly on the same day MySpace, once supposedly valued at $12 billion, was acquired for just $35 million by an ad network.

But hold your breathe! Let’s not be hasty to write Facebook’s obituary. First, Google hasn’t set the social media realm on fire in the past: Google Buzz failed to make any buzz, Google Wave was silently waved and ridiculed, and even Orkut, after loosing sheen in India, has started to lose its famous lead in Brazil. Second, Google+’s key feature – organizing your friends into ‘circles’ and share specific content only with certain circles – isn’t any novel idea. Facebook already offers ‘lists‘ to target specific content you want to show to specific friends.

So the story is that a company that’s never really succeeded in social media has announced a feature that is already there with other social networks for years.

As a consumer, of course, I love the circles idea. One of the smartest things about Orkut was its recognition that not every friend is equal. Google makes the point that in real life we don’t share the same information with everyone we know – and that our online social platform should replicate our offline behavior. True.

Facebook’s lists still haven’t caught on because it takes rather long to organize an existing group of connections. But Google+ starts with lists or circles from day 1. It works!

To be candid, this isn’t a Facebook killer or a twitter killer. Instead, it’s another splinter in the social web – making it smoother for people to access social content on any web site. And that’s exciting news for web-users.

For marketers, of course, it’s a tad less exciting. If Google+ and the ‘circles’ concept takes off, companies could find it hard reaching customers via social media. The more selective a user is in who they listen to, the more likely they are to screen marketing out of their world. It’s a growing fact of life in online marketing, i.e. Google’s Gmail ‘priority inbox’ feature, and Twitter’s lists helping to screen out non-essential messages.

Also, fragmentation of social platforms doesn’t bode well for marketers. The more unique social tools become, the more time they will spend managing different platforms. Thus, it’s crystal clear if Google+ catches on, it will create a real hurdle for social media marketing, making it more complex than it already is.

Ask the Mouse and it says – “wait and watch guys”. Wait to see how Google+ shapes up, and how popular it becomes, before you assess the real impact on consumers and marketers. But for now, social media marketers have reasons to be sleepless than Facebook has.

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