When launching a new product, it is important to give people something they need. They will flock to the product or service because it offers them something new.
That dynamic changed a little bit with the internet. When brands put up their first websites, people flocked to them. Those early websites were basically online brochures and they didn’t offer consumers anything new, but they offered them information in a new way. And that was interesting.
People were not really pining for a way to share content or thoughts. Before Twitter became mainstream, we had blogs (Twitter killed many blogs), delicious, Reddit, Digg and a host of other tools for sharing.
Twitter was simple, I’ll grant you. But take a step back, and Twitter doesn’t offer something new. Either does Facebook.
We don’t really need Facebook.
I connected to some people from high school, and for about 10 minutes, it was cool. But I didn’t need it. Now there are about 150 people on Facebook that just sit there. We don’t engage because we didn’t really want to engage.
Facebook didn’t really solve a problem, but it certainly created one.
I have an EMA list on Facebook. It is a list of the people I work with. When I don’t want them to see something, or I’m posting something vaguely work related, I’ll use the list. But lists are hard to manage and really clunky on Facebook. That said, there are 150 people on Facebook who don’t care what I say. So there’s a growing problem of organization.
The circles in Google+ are elegant looking lists. The one thing that Google has always done well is to organize information in an elegant way. Google.com is simple, elegant, and it works.
Circles help to organize your online world. For someone like me, with communities in many different social networks, circles will solve the problem. And it might solve another problem.
We do have a problem.
The promise of Google+ is that it can organize my communities. I can create Circles to learn about new ideas, and share ideas with appropriate people. This last part is really important. If I read something really interesting in a blog, how do I share it with the people at work?
Via e-mail? We all hate e-mail, and hate getting e-mails from senior people who don’t give the e-mail any context. It’s just a link, sometimes with an FYI – this is one of the most frustrating examples of sharing and if you’re a senior person who does this, please stop.
We desperately need a new solution for sharing in the enterprise. An e-mail sends the knowledge down the memory hole. It’s good in the short-term, but horrible in the long term. To whom does one send the e-mail?
The reason we use e-mail is we can’t really share the news on Facebook — Facebook isn’t for sending knowledge to your boss. We can’t share it on LinkedIn, because no one goes there expect HR people and people looking for work.
We can’t share it on Delicious, Digg or Reddit because those aren’t really push tools (although delicious has the wonderful e-mail feature that both pushes it and archives it).
So we turn to e-mail because we don’t have another solution. Houston, we have a problem. Google+, could be the solution.
It isn’t a Twitter killer, or a Facebook killer. It’s an e-mail killer. Or it can be.
Google tried to kill e-mail before with Wave. Google+ isn’t positioned as a replacement for e-mail, but in the perfect world, it would.