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The Search Agency Crowdsources Musings about the Future of Google+

Marketing Land Columnist Mark Traphagen has intently followed Google+’s years-long evolution, and recently released his latest musings on the future of Google’s social product. We read it, and we have some thoughts.

Our team has long struggled to see the true purpose of Google+, and we, along with Mr. Traphagen, believe Google has too. However, Mr. Traphagen pitched a few possible changes that piqued our interest – namely automated feed filtering and Collections.

standoutfromthecrowd

Photo via: FreeImages.com/Mark Aplet

Filtered Feeds? Sign Us Up!

The ability to filter and serve content according to known interests could be a very strong G+ selling point. In the last few months, we’ve started seeing more photos and status updates from friends-of-friends on Facebook – and it’s disconcerting.

If filtering is indeed an option, this revamped Google+ could also filter out posts you may find offensive, that is if Google determines you aren’t that interested in things like politics or social causes. Who knows! Maybe it could even keep our feeds clear of avid (read unnecessary) updates about certain celebrities who shall remain nameless… 🙂

 

Collections You Say? Said Our Inner-Marketers

As Mr. Traphagen points out, right now a drawback on available social media platforms is that sometimes you’re in to what another person is in to, but just not so in to that person him/herself. Enter Collections! A new way you could potentially follow a collection of another user’s topic-related posts without having to follow that actual person. As Marketers, we see these potential Collections as an awesome avenue for social media marketing campaigns. Brands could create Collections where they post images of their products along with links to buy those products right from those feeds – ala buyable Pins… yeah, you’re right. It is a perfect time to get into lingering redundancies.

 

Threats of Redundancy Still Loom Large

While the aforementioned possibilities certainly entice, a key threat still lingers for any new iteration of Google+: I can already get everything I need to know on a particular subject I’m interested in from my existing Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter & YouTube accounts. The social media space is already oversaturated, and has been for the last 5 years or so. To skirt this threat, Google will need to start getting specific, and pump up the fun factor!

 

Infiltrate Oversaturation? Sounds Fun!

Our opinion, after extensively studying social media behavioral patterns as well as using these platforms ourselves, is that any future social media platform’s success rests on four key features – an intuitive UX, mobile-friendliness, specification, and the fun factor.

Looking at this list of social platforms in existence today, it feels like we’re getting close to having different types of highly-specific social media platforms for every interest-type, and those that stand the test of time absolutely optimize for these four core features. Platforms that do and will continue to succeed have a specific purpose and are fun to use. And let’s face it – as it currently stands, G+ just isn’t all that much fun.

 

UX Not Intuitive Yet

G+ two-column layout alone screams just leave already! Should we read posts left to right, top to bottom, or what? Not fun. The truth remains, most folks only have a G+ account so they can cover their bases – not really because they’re constantly engaged with the platform. How long can you really devote resources to something like that?

 

Pick a Side

Social media, in general, thrives on producing an organic and genuine conversation amongst new and old friends – a digital experience that connects us in a unique and different way. As we’ve previously stated though, really successful platforms hone in on one particular way to foster these conversations. Currently, Google+ falls short in its attempt to fuse the fun of Facebook with the professional feel of LinkedIn – too broad. From a marketing perspective, while their new interest connector may be a hit amongst existing users, without further simplifying their platform’s lingering generalities, Google+ stands to only perpetuate their initial problem of failing to acquire new and younger audiences. No social media platform can grow without the younger demographic, and that younger demographic seems only interested in adding specific-use platforms to their vast repertoire of regularly-used social tools.

 

In theory, the future of G+ sounds really appealing to us as online marketers, that is, if it works. It does seem to us though that Google is too focused on what they want to get out of G+ vs. what users want. Guess we’ll just have to stay tuned.

 

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Mary Hayes is a Manager in Earned Media at The Search Agency, where she’s worked for 10 years. She has prior experience in SEM, print and email marketing, publishing and advertising. Mary is passionate about her two children, working smart and making a positive impact in everything she does.

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