Can Google Me take on Facebook?

June 30th, 2010 in .Blogs .News & Events
Nick Holland
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Rumours are circulating about Google Me, the alternative social networking sight Google is creating to try and suck people away from Facebook.

Is that even possible? Unlike other social networking sites like MySpace, Bebo and arguably even Google Buzz, Facebook has continued to grow and expand as people gravitate their friends of friends of friends to it. It’s become a household name.

Why does Google possibly want a social networking site?

Answer: Information. Honest information.

Whereas the rest of the internet is a hive of anonymous activity – you can pick a username an effectively be anyone – people don’t lie on social networking sites because the people they add as friends and family physically know them. Well, usually. That makes it hard to become an anonymous or false entity, as someone will call you out on it.

This honest information is a gold mine for advertisers and marketing folk who want to know about trends, likes and dislikes, and they can directly fetch the most appropriate advert specifically for you so instead of ignoring it you’re more likely to take interest and click.

So does Google even have a chance to catch up?

Answer: Possibly, but without knowing more, unlikely.

It will be exceptionally difficult to tear people away from something they are invested in and familiar with. Google has a chicken and egg problem: if no one uses it no one will go there, so how do you encourage people to jump on board?

Privacy.

Facebook has an Achilles heel the size of Greece,  in that its users lament the fact it has chipped away at their privacy and even sold information about them without them knowing. That’s really, really not good. Google can use this in conjunction with its “Do No Evil” policy (however far it’s stretched at times) and promote Google Me as a safe place for people to drop their info without fear of it being sold on. Google already has its own successful advertising network backbone and people seem happy with its services poking their nose into their GMail occasionally, to learn about them.

Google also has its Android OS, its Chrome browser and the upcoming Chrome OS – not to mention an extremely popular email  service, less popular office apps and numerous other online bits – all of which can be tied into its social network. Could Google even promote itself as a “Facebook for businesses”? Keep in touch with colleagues and have everyone on the same page, so to speak.

It will be interesting to see if the rumours prove true – Google isn’t afraid of going after new markets (take the Chrome browser and Nexus One for example) and trying new things (Google Wave?), but what will really come out of Google Me and will it be compelling enough to change?

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