When it comes to social networking, Google hasn’t had a very good run. Google Wave no longer exists, while Google Buzz got off on the wrong foot (with privacy invasion) when it first rolled out. In the next few weeks Google will launch its +1 button – which functions the same as Facebook’s ‘Like’ button. Given its track record, will Google ever be able to go social? If a company such as Google can’t build a successful online community, what hope is there for us market researchers?
Google obviously has the technological savvy to create these types of social networking platforms, but its core offer isn’t about being social, it’s about being useful. Google Search, Maps, News, Scholar. It’s about getting the user on and off a page as quickly as possible, with the information needed. Social media offers fun, entertainment and interaction – keeping the user on the platform for as long as possible.
Building an online community takes more than just providing a platform. Ignoring ‘the social’ impacts considerably on how your community grows – if it does at all. When establishing an insights community, keep in mind the lessons of Google. It’s just as much about interaction as it is information.