Kevin Rose, the founder of social aggregator Digg and all-around Internet bigwig, recently tweeted that Google was up to something big and that it was purportedly called “Google Me.” After much hoopla, major online news channels were confirming the story and already speculating on what Google Me meant to the social fabric of the Internet. Would Google Me become an adequate competitor or even replacement to Facebook? Is Google taking this project seriously? Would it be a huge success like Gmail or a huge bust like Google Buzz? When can we expect it to launch?
The one thing that we know for sure, though, is that we don’t know much yet. Much like all the speculation about Lebron James, it seems that we’ll just have to just wait until Google Me is finally unveiled before we have the real scoop.
If you’re interested in reading more about Google Me, I’d recommend the following resources:
- Former Facebook CTO: ‘Google Me’ Is Real, And It’s Gunning For Facebook [TechCrunch]
- Openness Would Decide Whether ‘Google Me’ Is Genius or Garbage [Wired]
- A new social network? ‘Google Me’ [CNNMoney]
These articles not only give you a great cheat sheet on what you may be able to expect from Google Me, but they also detail what may cause Google Me to succeed or fail, how it might be different from Buzz and how it may choose to fight Facebook. It’s really riveting stuff and I wouldn’t deign to suggest that I know better than any of the aforementioned sources.
What I do know, though, is that if we take as a given that Google Me is real and that it’s a project aimed to take on the social media space, then we can conclude that social marketing as a whole is poised to really take off.
To date, social marketing has been a bit of an enigma for publishers and marketers alike. Other than Facebook, whose marketing platform is still in its infancy and rife with glitches, there is no reliable, social medium for marketers to connect with potential customers. Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare are three other major players in the social space that have secured millions of dollars from enthusiastic investors but none has found a way to monetize as successfully as Facebook.
Funding one’s venture through ads, the way that Google has with AdWords and the way that Facebook is beginning to do with its ad platform, seems like an obvious revenue stream, however, generating enough revenue through ads alone has been historically difficult, especially online. For every Google AdWords, there are hundreds of sites that just weren’t able to pay the bills with ad revenue alone. Before Facebook began to bring in real money through its platform, people were beginning to hypothesize that social marketing would forever be a unicorn: a magical creature that nobody really knew how to catch.
If Facebook was the first glimmer of hope, then Google Me is the second, even before it has been released.
The reason that I believe this is because Google has a pattern with its products. They generally release a product into the wild, observe it, decide whether it was a success or failure and then act. If the product is Google Radio Ads, then you probably won’t ever hear about it again. If the product is Wave, Google may keep it around but you’ll not hear more press about it unless Google decides it’s worth additional effort. If the product is Google Maps, then Google moves full steam ahead, investing millions of dollars to make it the de facto standard for its niche. Google realized that it could very easily throw local ads on maps and make money; now you can see what your aunt’s house looks like from a street view or a satellite view without leaving your computer (and for free!).
Google released Buzz in Q1 this year as a competitor to Twitter. Most observers would agree that Buzz was a failure. Normally, Google would chalk up the loss and move on to a more potentially lucrative venture. After all, Twitter is having trouble making money, why should Google invest more in a Twitter clone/fighter? The answer, of course, is because Twitter never should have been the target; it should have been Facebook.
The very fact that Google is going back to the drawing board with Buzz and the social media space as a whole is proof enough for me that Google believes that social marketing is going to be big. No company on Earth is better at monetizing advertising than Google; if Google believes in the social space enough to take a second crack at it–only months away from their first attempt–marketers should pay attention.
If you’ve already decided that social marketing isn’t for you, I would advise that you to pay attention to “‘Google Me’ Watch 2010.” Whether or not Google Me ends up as a success is almost beside the point. Google knows that there is serious money in social marketing and their commitment of resources to Google Me serves as evidence. Remember that where there is money to be made by publishers like Google, there is opportunity to successfully market products and services for clients. The agencies and businesses take advantage early may be the ones who finally figure out how to catch the unicorn!