Every evolution of Web technologies, applications and devices has seen businesses try to leverage the platforms to fatten their bottom line. While visionary early adopters are quick to see and jump on new trends, conservative businesses eventually – maybe reluctantly – join the fray.
As devices and technologies continue to morph and evolve at a faster and faster pace, reluctantly joining in is no longer an option. The ability to ride what my friend Steve Woodruff calls “Trend Currents” will make or break businesses.
I see Trend Currents as evolving methods of human communications and behaviors that follow technological advancements. Some will argue that technological advancements follow changes in human behaviour, but in either case seeing the Trend Current isn’t easy for most business leaders. They miss the proverbial forest for the trees. The point being that technology has increased the rate at which our communication practices change and businesses who refuse to embrace or even gamble on new innovations, channels and technologies will yield their leadership position or never achieve it.
- The World Wide Web gave us instant access to information that was previously difficult or impossible to acquire. We gained knowledge in a fraction of the time – and with much greater ease – than ever before. The Age of Information was born and changed how businesses operate.
- Web technologies evolved and gave us the opportunity to instantly publish content and feed it back into the World Wide Web for others to access. Web 2.0 was born and changed how businesses communicate.
- Technologies continued to evolve and we were given the option to share and discuss the content we were reading and publishing with each other. Social Media was born and changed how business MUST operate AND communicate.
We’re now trending the next evolution, what Deloitte’s Chris Heurer calls the Post-Digital Era yet I still know many businesses that are still trying to figure out how Web 2.0 can be adopted in their online communications. They’re all mucking around in the weeds, playing catch up and never stop to look up and see where the currents are taking them.
The de-evolution of the Social Network
The more things change the more they stay the same. Fast forward to today and most business leaders are still so focused on catching up to the now that they are not seeing the Trend Currents.The recent Facebook vs. Google+ debate is one such example.
The focus has revolved around the question: how can any social network beat Facebook at its own game? It’s so large, so ubiquitous that no one will ever dethrone them? Even Mark Zuckerberg recently quipped: Google+ is the “little Facebook”.
What they’re not seeing is that Google+ is NOT a social network at all. People, including Mr. Zuckerberg it seems, are so wrapped up in the now that they are not seeing what’s coming. Social Networks will de-evolve from a closed “networks” to open all-encompassing communication “platforms”.
And that’s exactly where Google+ is going. It’s will be completely embedded within our daily Web & Mobile communications, not a destination where we go to grow fake vegetables and livestock or voyeuristically peek in on the lives of our old high old flings.
Google’s Chief Business Officer, Nikesh Arora describes this best: “It is a platform which allows us to bring social elements into all the services and products that we offer. So you have seen YouTube come into Google+; you’ve seen Google+ with “direct connect” go into our search business. We are trying to make sure we use social signals across all of our products… It’s not just about getting people together on one site and calling it a social network.”
Even if we were to believe Mr. Zuckerberg’s position that Google+ is a “little Facebook”, that little network controls the world’s most popular web and online marketing analytics platform and video network (to name a few) and of course the world’s most used search engine….the Web’s gateway. And as it continues to merge all its properties into one highly connected online infrastructure – through every communication device we own – it will become “the air we breathe online”. Yet most businesses are still trying to figure out Facebook and have barely given Google+ a second thought.
What can a business learn from this?
Your corporation’s online presence, the entire Web in fact is no longer information-based but social-based. And the implication for business is huge. The Web is rapidly becoming less about data and more about connections. Corporate blogs are already on track to replace the corporate Web site as the brand’s most visited web property.
The way customers search the Web has evolved. Increasingly, they are searching for opinions, points of view and recommendations beyond static information. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is making way for Social-SEO, which references the inclusion of our social graph’s actions, history and comments in Google’s ranking algorithms.
Lastly, consider that it took Facebook 10 months to reach 1 million users. Analysts predict Google+ will reach 100 million users by the end of the year.
Still think Google+ is a gamble?
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego
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Check out some of the early-adopter brands banking on Google+ in my post here.