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An open letter to Google on Google+

July 22, 2011

Dear Google,

You’re a lot smarter than me, so I suspect everything I’m about to say has crossed your mind. But I’m going to forge ahead anyway.

Please think really hard about how brands use your new platform.

You are not Facebook or Twitter – you are Google.   

Google, every morning when you look in the mirror, you most-likely notice you’re not like those other platforms in “social media”. Those social platforms (like Facebook and Twitter) launched in tiny rooms as startups. You launched in the comfy coziness of Googleplex, a place I’ve heard has awesome food.

You are not a startup.

To grow, a startup needs brands to adopt the platform and spread the word. In Facebook’s case, they bent over backwards to offer Brand Pages. Twitter had Comcast Cares, and now is firmly rooted for brands in the “listening” customer service space.

You. Don’t. Need. Brands.

But crikey, do brands need you.

Just not how people might be thinking.

Google, I was right there with you when you launched Google Wave. Ah, the promise. I can remember the moment when I heard it: “If we invented e-mail now, what would it look like?”

Google, it gave me the chills because I hate e-mail.

There is nothing worse than sharing knowledge at the enterprise level with e-mail. E-mail is a knowledge black hole.

I get far too many e-mails from smart people who read an article relevant to my job with FYI as the body content.

I’m sorry, FYI? And the e-mail is to a select amount of people at the enterprise. Or it is to a distribution list that trains us to ignore it (a couple of irrelevant e-mails kills the list).

Or worse, as you so brilliantly solved in Wave, we get added to an e-mail stream that says: “FYI: Red (sic) from the bottom, talk at 2:00PM.” You so know it was sent on their phone, but you have to decipher it.

E-mail strings like this are massive, soul-sucking monsters with branches breaking off that mature into new massive monsters. No wonder people are stressed.

We’re using a technology invented in the 1960’s as our primary sharing tool! WTF!

Google, your Wave solved that, your + could.

Give brands an enterprise version of Google+. Instead of inviting brands to add more noise to what is already a relatively noisy place, let companies white label Google+ as an internal sharing tool.

At the Enterprise level, let Google+ be the replacement for e-mail.

But we have to keep this quiet. You and I both know we can’t go around telling people Google+ will replace their e-mail. You tried that with Wave. And look what happened.

As soul-sucking as it is, people are attached to e-mail. Ironically, the people most attached to e-mail are the senior people who 15-20-years ago swore up and down the halls that they would never use e-mail.

“Nope. Not me,” they stormed.

I do not want brands in my circles.

Google, you can still let Brands have outward facing pages. But let them be hubs for YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, Places, etc. If this really worked, you could solve another problem — the almost universal suckiness of websites.

Think about it, instead of “redoing my website” or “refreshing, updating, modernizing a website”, the page could be the number one organic hit for a brand. You being Google, you’ll most-likely let people go all CSS on the page –  it can act as a branded hub, updated from other platforms!

Shoot higher. We don’t need another place to read the status of a brand. We really need more.

Google, Twitter does the customer service thing well enough. Facebook does the brand status update thing well enough. E-mail does the sharing knowledge thing about as badly as one could think it up. Seriously, if we were to invent the crappiest tool for sharing knowledge in the enterprise, we’d have a hard time outdoing e-mail. Especially now that people are using smart phones to send e-mail.

Anyway, thanks for listening. Have a great weekend.

Your friend,

Matt.

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