What Google+ Can Teach Us About Social

Once laughable as a social media effort, Google+ is taking us all to school

by Jason Falls |

You don’t hear a lot of ballyhoo or trumpeting of Google+ these days, at least from Google. So when someone from the mothership speaks, it’s interesting to see what they say. CNET’s Casey Newton did a nice job of pulling some fantastic insights about Google+ out of its VP of Product, Bradley Horowitz during his talk at a Business Insider Conference recently.

The key insight: Google+ is not the focal point of the company’s efforts. It’s a fabric that ties many of Google’s products together.

You’ve likely heard the terminology batted around by thought leaders and analysts. “Social is the glue that binds the company together,” or “You become a social business when you stop focusing on social and realize it connects the business together and to your customers.” These have become popular battle cries for the consultant set, especially those trying to sell “social business” to big corporations.

But it’s seldom introduced as a concept in action as it is by Horowitz.

My favorite part of Newton’s report:

“Google+ plays a second role, as a product that improves other products. Google tends to talk about this in abstract terms — it’s a ‘social spine;’ it’s a ‘fabric;’ it ‘weaves’ Google products together.”

What social is for Google, is what it should be for us: Connective tissue, not the heart or soul of our efforts. What this means is this:

Your job as a marketer is not to devise a social media strategy, it’s to socialize your business strategy
  • Your job as a marketer is not to devise a social media strategy, it’s to socialize your business strategy
  • Social interactions may give you a chance to say, “Buy my stuff!” But they also give you an opportunity to know your audience better, either by direct interaction and learning or by tapping into their social graph to understand their likes, dislikes, interests and friends.
  • This better understanding of your audience can help you deliver better returns on more traditional methods of reaching your audience like social advertising, pay-per-click advertising and even direct mail.
  • There’s a fairly good chance your “return” on a social “investment” might be as intangible as consumer insights, awareness or even just the warm and fuzzy feeling those you touch have as a takeaway. But there is great value in that.

For a big search company that has had failure after failure in the social space and has taken hit upon hit from those wanting to compare it’s latest attempt at a social network to Facebook, Google certainly is teaching us a bit about what being social really means.

Are you leveraging social networks for more than just communications platforms? Tell us how. The comments are yours.


About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).