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Google playing social catch up

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Head of EMEA Marketing at Google Plus says they've 'got to get it right'.

March 18, 2013 6:24 by

Google is trying to play catch up. They’ve literally arrived about 8 years late to the social media party with Google Plus, but according to Cristian Cussan, head of EMEA Marketing, not only is that not a bad thing but it’s actually afforded the search giant tremendous benefits by observing the trial-and-error features of their predecessors.

It’s quite easy to understand why – after only 18 months of operation – the social network has already gathered a member base of 500 million users. After all, the whole purpose behind its existence is to simply act as a social spine stretched across the Google family. An easy integration between Google Search, YouTube, Gmail and other features is precisely why Kipp signed up for an account, because, well why not? The network is fundamentally based on the idea of circles, the ability to segment people in your life into areas and control what you share with whom.

Cussan says that prior to the creation of Plus, their individual products sat separately without a unifying layer. They thought not only do should they beautify the product and make it more practical by integration, but ultimately bring social elements to every aspect of Google.

“Google Plus is what we want Google to be,” he says.

Cussan insists that while other social networks rave about having frictionless methods of sharing for users with minimal disruption, having some friction is a good thing. “If we can get young people to stop and think for a minute about what they’re going to share and who they really want to see it, then I think a bit of friction here is good,” he says.

So far, the company hasn’t begun monetising its stream directly, which Cussan says has allowed them to really focus on its development – but the one challenge that lies ahead is waking up the inactive users. Out of the 500 million registered, only 135 million are considered monthly active users, spending about sixty minutes a day on Google and 12 minutes on Plus.

“Actually, considering it’s only been 18 months, we’re quite happy with the number of users we have,” says Cussan. “Having said that, I think the integration of the Google Plus experience into Android platforms will be a very strong driver.” He adds that they’re also quite invested in photography – strongly believing that photographs are the most precious assets people share online – and by making the photo experience ‘second to none’, they hope to start seeing a hike in user activity.

And yet, despite the impressive figures and the obvious fact that Google is a dominant internet giant, one can’t help but wonder why there isn’t more hype behind this product? Where has the notion of ‘I want to sign up because all my friends have signed up’ gone? Why is it taking time for people to warm up to it?

“We’re not looking at Google Plus as a new feature in any way, but purely looking at it as the new Google,” concludes Cussan. “We can’t rush to the market with ‘me too’ features – even if they are in demand. We have to get it right and if that means we’re not strongly pushing for mass awareness then that’s the price we’ll have to pay for now.”

He stresses that everything they do isn’t done with a five-to-10 year scope in mind, but a 50 to 100 year one.


Do you expect to see a mass migration of users from Facebook to Google Plus – much like we did from Frienster to MySpace and from MySpace to Facebook? 

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