A (Web) Page Turns in Social Media
It's fitting perhaps that Google's announcement of Google+, its new social networking platform, came on the same day that the sale of MySpace was announced. MySpace, which once ruled social media, was sold by News Corp. to an ad network, Specific Media, for a fraction of what it paid in 2005. "Both the final price"—reported to be $35 million—"and the buyer seemed to confirm that the company's best days were behind it," noted Crain's New York.
Google, meanwhile, is trying its hand once again at leveraging its search dominance and strong cloud-based products (like Gmail and Picasa) to take on Facebook. Google's proposition seems to be that you want to tightly control access to what you post through its concept of "circles"—different groups of family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues managed in different ways. It's an appealing idea; I sometimes wish every single thing I posted on Facebook didn't have to be published out to everyone in my network without painstakingly picking and choosing who to allow access.
The weakness of Google's approach may be that it needs to catch on quickly to be appealing. Without a lot of willing participants among the people in your life, it will be hard to build out multiple useful "circles"—unlike Facebook, which received its first-stage rocket fuel from the hothouse environment of the college campus, and MySpace, initially a place for bands to connect and promote music. I'm not sure enough of Google's existing cloud users will jump on board fast enough to give it the momentum it needs to get going. We'll see.
Multiple healthy, fast-growing social networking platforms provide more targeted marketing and audience-building opportunities for businesses. Those that get on board early with the right sort of presence on and through these sites might find themselves riding the next profitable media wave. At this point, I'll "like" all three.