With the announcement of Vic Gundotra’s exit from Google last week, every mouth-breathing, hand-wringing prognosticator of digital doom seemed to ooze from the woodwork, and perpetuate each other’s bad journalism. TechCrunch first wrote an OPINION PIECE on the future of Google+, or the lack there-of, and major news outlets, including Forbes, salivating with glee at attacking the Google Social Network, began reporting that TC article as if it were dictated from a pair of magic scrolls hidden by an angel, with Alexia Tsotsis as the cult-leader, distributing magic underwear and free kool-aid.
Nevermind the fact that Alexia’s reporting has typically been somewhat hostile towards Google in general, she also doesn’t even participate in Google+. Oh, she has an account, but it hasn’t been used in any meaningful way for over 2 years.
While I’m sure Google had doe-eyed dreams of competing with Facebook, they haven’t behaved that way in quite some time, and the future of Google+ almost certainly does not lie in social media dominance, in the way Facebook dominates destination usage of social media.
Several years ago, Twitter made a dynamic shift, that went unnoticed by most. Where it was once seen as the messaging backbone of the internet – a defacto standard in short status updates that could feed myriad services, they wanted to become more Facebook-like, and invest in building value in their own channels. It was probably a necessary move for them to IPO, but it destroyed a thriving and innovative community of developers who were using Twitter in that way. It was a spiritual successor to RSS, in my mind, another basic standard for the web to use to better communication. But RSS isn’t its own business, and doesn’t pay employees.
I believe this is where Google+ intends to play. This actually IS in Google’s wheelhouse, and they could definitely profit off of it. They want Google+ to power the social media “backplane” (Hat-tip to Chris Brogan). I think Google’s strategy is actually doubling down on the future of social. Facebook is changing to allow developers to use their ad network in their own mobile apps, and use their login in new places. Google+ and Google already play in this market. You can promote a Google+ Post across the Google Ad Network, and let viewers interact with it anywhere, using the new +Posts Ad. That is bringing social to the web, and not bringint the web to a social site. I believe that’s the future of Social, and will make Google+ a major player in social, without anyone ever realizing it.
Facebook is playing catch-up with this right now, at the F8 conference. And they’re probably do a great job of it. But they are recognizing what Google+ already has recognized – the days of a destination-based Social Network, a la Facebook.com, will soon be over. A Federated communication services standard across the web is how we’ll view social in the future. And Google+ is position perfectly. So keep +1ing – and also, feel free to +1 this post. 🙂