what does google want to be

So, it looks like Google is entering the comment system fray.

Never mind that it smacks of yet another “let’s copy Facebook” move. Nor that there are already excellent comment systems out there at the minute – the awesome Livefyre (used on this very blog), Disqus and IntenseDebate to name just some of the third-party options.

Google’s clearly taken a look at how Facebook Comments tie the user into Zuckerberg’s network, and wants a piece of that pie to go along with their recent abandonment of their “don’t be evil” mantra.

While it’ll no doubt attract its fans and users – especially the Google+ aficionados – I can’t help but feel the announcement is just another indication of why Google is struggling when it comes to social.

We Think We Want To Be…

One of the problems Google faces is it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. It was a lot easier in its early days, when search was the be all and end all of the Google equation.

But search only gets you so far (in Google’s case, being #1 means you kind of have nowhere else to go). Cue growth time.

Google Ads; PageRank; Google Earth; Blogger; YouTube; Feedburner; Google Voice; Gmail; Google Labs and more. From the small beginning of a search idea between two friends, Google became a fully-fledged multimedia company.

And it seems to be confusing them.

While Google was busy adding cool stuff to its repertoire, it wasn’t really making that cool stuff particularly sticky with the general public. Yes, they own the search space – but think of their real success stories, and they’re mostly external projects.

YouTube, they bought. Android, they bought. Google Earth, they bought. Google Voice, they bought. In fact, when you really think about it, the biggest success story for Google internally is its very first product.

And maybe that grinds them, when they see what Facebook has achieved since its inception back in the middle of the last decade.

  • It got the everyday user buy-in that most Google products haven’t (yet).
  • It made the web fun.
  • It appealed to all ages.
  • It attracted brands as well as consumers.
  • It’s continued to innovate internally.

Yet, perhaps more importantly, Facebook has managed to do all this without really needing the search strength of Google to achieve its popularity and success (just ask yourself how many other businesses don’t care about where they rank on Google’s algorithm).

Google PlusTo combat this, Google launched Google+, their own social network and the one that Google is pinning a lot of its hopes on in its battle with Facebook, especially after the abysmal failures of Buzz and Wave.

Early indications are good – 100 million users and reports of the network’s importance to search.

Although numbers aren’t everything – Google forces you to create a Google+ profile whenever you open a new Google product account, so that immediately adds to installed user base.

And when questioned recently at South by Southwest, the Google representative admitted that they class “active use” of Google+ something as miniscule as clicking the little alert button in your Gmail account, without even going through to the main Google+ site.

So take the numbers with a huge pinch of salt.

And now there’s the news of the Google comments system. Talk about throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the wall…

Too Many Google Pies

As I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to see why Google is going this route. With their recent “One Privacy” announcement, Google are looking to bake all their products into a more cohesive offering.

By doing this, they’ll (hopefully) make it such an integrated experience that you won’t need – or want – to use any other provider. From email to videos, business applications to smartphones, search, social networking and e-commerce, Google wants to be be the kingpin.

The problem is, they’re not doing a very good job of it so far.

If they really wanted to integrate, they’d already be making Google+ the centrepiece for their users, and a simple one at that. Unfortunately, that’s not coming across (currently) in the user experience.

Let’s say I wanted to create a promo video with customer testimonials, for example.

I should be able to grab images from my storefront on Google+ (the one they don’t really provide), collate them into a slideshow, add a voiceover, create a Hangout with some of my best customers, get testimonials, edit into the video, polish and then publish direct to YouTube.

Then I should be able to work in Google Docs to create a promo kit, call up my Circles of journalist friends, and send an invitation to the media kit as well as embedded video for them to watch. Voila, an instant interactive release.

Could this be on the way? Maybe – but if Google really wants Google+ to be truly adopted, they need to be doing this now. Instead, they’re just adding more things and, by doing so, adding to the problem.

Take the Google comments system. Let’s say that’s adopted as Google’s standard system – what happens to all the comments left on a Blogger blog post? Or a YouTube video? How do these get integrated – do they, or are they just cast aside, which seems to be Google’s usual way (just look at Picnik).

And the problem when you can’t merge old platforms or designs with new ones doesn’t always go over well (just ask YouTue users who got pissed at that channel’s makeover, and how it messed up their feeds).

One World or One Success at a Time?

There’s no doubt Google has the resources to take on Facebook and other platforms and businesses they want to compete with. Their Android platform is going head-to-head with the Apple machine and doing very well for itself.

But social seems to escape them, for some reason. Do we really need another comments system, even one that’s baked into Google’s core products? Will that be enough to see Facebook users – or at least the ones used to using their comments system – add Google+ to their repertoire?

Despite their early success, the jury’s still out on Google+ in general, and what Google actually wants to be as a company.

The latest comment news doesn’t really answer any questions; instead, it just poses more. And no matter what company you are, get too many users asking too many questions about who you really are, and that’s never a good thing…

Your thoughts? Is Google over-extending itself, or simply laying the bricks for an unassailable foundation?

Sign up for free weekly content

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a weekly email with the latest blog post, recommended reading, quick tips and more. I respect your privacy and will never spam you.

Alternatively, click here to subscribe to the RSS feed instead.

Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.

171 comments
joey
joey

Their Android platform is going head-to-head with the Apple machine and doing very well for itself.

joey
joey

Their Android platform is going head-to-head with the Apple machine and doing very well for itself. 78M05

Rita Dawson
Rita Dawson

I also thought about this fact. I never knew that Google has launched so many products. While I was reading an article I came across some products, that made me visit Google's product page and there we have hundreds of products. Many are not at all known and the known ones are also losing its rank in the competition.

Rita Dawson
Rita Dawson

I also thought about this fact. I never knew that Google has launched so many products. While I was reading an article I came across some products, that made me visit Google's product page and there we have hundreds of products. Many are not at all known and the known ones are also losing its rank in the competition.

Art Graham
Art Graham

Danny, I worked for IBM for over 10 years. Some things get so big they can't get out of their own way.

Art Graham
Art Graham

Danny, I worked for IBM for over 10 years. Some things get so big they can't get out of their own way.

Mike Ashworth
Mike Ashworth

perhaps they'll all be so desperate to keep their walled garden with regard to people to serve adverts too and therefore make money, that they'll end up losing out to someone who sees the world through different eyes and views collaboration as being in everyone's best interests.

Mike Ashworth
Mike Ashworth

perhaps they'll all be so desperate to keep their walled garden with regard to people to serve adverts too and therefore make money, that they'll end up losing out to someone who sees the world through different eyes and views collaboration as being in everyone's best interests.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Mike Agree, mate. Keeping the startup mentality is hard (though Twitter seems to have done a good job of it). Interesting thoughts on striking deals with FB and Twitter - makes sense, but then we know sense never comes into play where big corps are involved. ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Mike Agree, mate. Keeping the startup mentality is hard (though Twitter seems to have done a good job of it). Interesting thoughts on striking deals with FB and Twitter - makes sense, but then we know sense never comes into play where big corps are involved. ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Art - There's always the fear that something can become too big to stop. Then again, Facebook has about twice the amount of data on its users than any other network, so maybe we should be looking at them. ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Art - There's always the fear that something can become too big to stop. Then again, Facebook has about twice the amount of data on its users than any other network, so maybe we should be looking at them. ;-)

Brendan7
Brendan7

It's funny, because the more Google pushes their products, the more I want to distance myself from them. They just added Google "play" for example. I believe this will be the year that I close my gmail account for good.

Brendan7
Brendan7

It's funny, because the more Google pushes their products, the more I want to distance myself from them. They just added Google "play" for example. I believe this will be the year that I close my gmail account for good.

vikassingal
vikassingal

Danny, your article seems to be very realistic. Google wants to be the King of throne....without having command over all those aspects .....We as user dont want to be limted to Google products..we want to have a free life....we watn to be free to choose what ever we want...

vikassingal
vikassingal

Danny, your article seems to be very realistic. Google wants to be the King of throne....without having command over all those aspects .....We as user dont want to be limted to Google products..we want to have a free life....we watn to be free to choose what ever we want...

rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel

@ginidietrich @dannybrown You're right. What's missing is integration. Great example, Danny.

rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel

@ginidietrich @dannybrown You're right. What's missing is integration. Great example, Danny.

RobFontano
RobFontano

Regardless of how badly Google wants to be "All" the social network is not ready and probably never will be to put all of its social in one basket. Google gamed the world when they canned third party reviews from their places listing. A move that coincided with the release of Google+. The push to force businesses to encourage their customers to sign up for Gmail accounts that would allow them to replenish their reviews on Places. "Do no evil" went out the window a long time ago.

RobFontano
RobFontano

Regardless of how badly Google wants to be "All" the social network is not ready and probably never will be to put all of its social in one basket. Google gamed the world when they canned third party reviews from their places listing. A move that coincided with the release of Google+. The push to force businesses to encourage their customers to sign up for Gmail accounts that would allow them to replenish their reviews on Places. "Do no evil" went out the window a long time ago.

RobFontano
RobFontano

Regardless of how badly Google wants to be "All" the social network is not ready and probably never will be to put all of its social in one basket. Google gamed the world when they canned third party reviews from their places listing. A move that coincided with the release of Google+. The push to force businesses to encourage their customers to sign up for Gmail accounts that would allow them to replenish their reviews on Places. "Do no evil" went out the window a long timer ago.

AjntB2Sli
AjntB2Sli

@ginidietrich I always enjoy your videos even if at times I don't agree with them, and your website looks great! Happy #NationalCleavageDay

AjntB2Sli
AjntB2Sli

@ginidietrich I always enjoy your videos even if at times I don't agree with them, and your website looks great! Happy #NationalCleavageDay

jeffespo
jeffespo

Hey there matey.... I love the  “let’s copy Facebook” line... it is too true and shows that a once innovative company can no longer just stick to what they are good just to try to stay popular. Kind of like those kids in high school who did things just t o be cool or get attention. 

Latest blog post: Cartoon of the day

jeffespo
jeffespo

Hey there matey.... I love the  “let’s copy Facebook” line... it is too true and shows that a once innovative company can no longer just stick to what they are good just to try to stay popular. Kind of like those kids in high school who did things just t o be cool or get attention. 

bhas
bhas

Can you imagine the heartburn at Googleplex whenever the topic of Pinterest comes up?

 

Google, with its billions of dollars and armies of software engineers could not do with Google+ what a scrappy startup did by becoming the fastest growing social network, and with a dedicated user base to boot

 

A lot of people are scared of putting all their online eggs in the Google basket, and this is what Big G seems to miss. People have a natural suspicion when it comes to near monopolies and generally favour competition. The Internet is already spooked by Facebook baking parts of itself into millions of third party websites, and when Google decides to go down that road too, well...you get to the present situation.

 

Should Google venture into social? Why not. But it would definitely do better if it can tone down the Shock and Awe and use more brains than brawn.

bhas
bhas

Can you imagine the heartburn at Googleplex whenever the topic of Pinterest comes up?   Google, with its billions of dollars and armies of software engineers could not do with Google+ what a scrappy startup did by becoming the fastest growing social network, and with a dedicated user base to boot   A lot of people are scared of putting all their online eggs in the Google basket, and this is what Big G seems to miss. People have a natural suspicion when it comes to near monopolies and generally favour competition. The Internet is already spooked by Facebook baking parts of itself into millions of third party websites, and when Google decides to go down that road too, well...you get to the present situation.   Should Google venture into social? Why not. But it would definitely do better if it can tone down the Shock and Awe and use more brains than brawn.

mlm software noida
mlm software noida

I am using Twitter past 2 months to optimize my software company website.Although i am happy with the output,but want to be serious with twitter to get best from it...As i am  newbie,can you please guide me with your ideas and experience,although i lied your  ideas and give it a  try...Waiting for your response!!

mlm software noida
mlm software noida

I am using Twitter past 2 months to optimize my software company website.Although i am happy with the output,but want to be serious with twitter to get best from it...As i am  newbie,can you please guide me with your ideas and experience,although i lied your  ideas and give it a  try...Waiting for your response!!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @Brendan7 I deleted my G+ account completely and when I went to check my Analytics, they were trying to force me to upgrade to Google+ before accessing my Analytics. Screw that - that is one crappy approach.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @vikassingal It's no wonder that Google's being investigated by the Monopolies Commission as well as the FTC. So much for "not being evil"...

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @RobFontano Great points, Rob. The minute you start being biased towards your own products/services when you're meant to be an open platform is the minute you start to fail as a service.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@AjntB2Sli It's national cleavage day?? LOL

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@AjntB2Sli It's national cleavage day?? LOL

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @jeffespo So, would you say Google are the Kardashians of the web? ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

 @bhas Ironically, the Pinterest comparison is a perfect one, as that reminds me of the Google spirit and ideal when they first started. Although they seem to be experiencing the whole copyright thing in the way that Google has been consistently hit with the privacy thing - so maybe not so different after all. ;-)

 

Cheers, mate!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @bhas Ironically, the Pinterest comparison is a perfect one, as that reminds me of the Google spirit and ideal when they first started. Although they seem to be experiencing the whole copyright thing in the way that Google has been consistently hit with the privacy thing - so maybe not so different after all. ;-)   Cheers, mate!

AjntB2Sli
AjntB2Sli

@ginidietrich you mean you havent seen all those boobie tweets on your timeline?

AjntB2Sli
AjntB2Sli

@ginidietrich you mean you havent seen all those boobie tweets on your timeline?

Mark Longbottom
Mark Longbottom

 @DannyBrown  @bhas And now Pinterest changing the Copyrigh to a certain extent starting April 6, after listening to a certain extent. Are Google listening though? Will there be a reclaim the internet movement from people sick of being stuck in the Google Search bubble?

Mark Longbottom
Mark Longbottom

 @DannyBrown  @bhas And now Pinterest changing the Copyrigh to a certain extent starting April 6, after listening to a certain extent. Are Google listening though? Will there be a reclaim the internet movement from people sick of being stuck in the Google Search bubble?

Mark Longbottom
Mark Longbottom

 @bhas  @DannyBrown perfect and what more and more people are turning against Google for and trying to reclaim the internet.  I am told Duck Duck Go and Bing do what google did in the beginning by giving you open search. We shall see

bhas
bhas

 @Mark Longbottom  @DannyBrown This whole Google Search bubble thing is really insidious and frightening. It's more so because on the face of it, the whole idea sounds really good- customising your search experience and results so that you get what you want.

 

But I might be looking for something that is not what Google's data about me says I usually look. I might be a vegetarian searching for examples of animal cruelty. If Google's bubble is taken to it's extreme, I won't get any results at all.

 

I liked the old Google better- a dumb algorithm spewing out results based on technical parameters. When you try to make an algorithm intelligent and when it deals with billions of searches daily, things don't turn out well sometime.

Mark Longbottom
Mark Longbottom

 @bhas  @DannyBrown perfect and what more and more people are turning against Google for and trying to reclaim the internet.  I am told Duck Duck Go and Bing do what google did in the beginning by giving you open search. We shall see

Mark Longbottom
Mark Longbottom

 @bhas  @DannyBrown perfect and what mroe and mroe people may turn against Google for and try to reclaim the internet.  I am told Duck Duck Go and Bing do what google did int eh beginning give you open search. We shall see

bhas
bhas

 @Mark Longbottom  @DannyBrown This whole Google Search bubble thing is really insidious and frightening. It's more so because on the face of it, the whole idea sounds really good- customising your search experience and results so that you get what you want.   But I might be looking for something that is not what Google's data about me says I usually look. I might be a vegetarian searching for examples of animal cruelty. If Google's bubble is taken to it's extreme, I won't get any results at all.   I liked the old Google better- a dumb algorithm spewing out results based on technical parameters. When you try to make an algorithm intelligent and when it deals with billions of searches daily, things don't turn out well sometime.

Trackbacks