Google Plus Product Strategy Success: It’s All About Content Relevance

November 3, 2011

Cartoon on Social Media Content Relevance

About a month ago, shortly after Google surpassed the 40 million user mark and completed its hundredth product feature release, the company finalized its initial feature set and opened its social media platform to the public.

Google hoped that repositioning its social media platform to an open membership model would spur growth and drive usage among active users. As of yet, the Google Plus product strategy has not provided the increased user activity or growth surge Google’s team had expected.

As the social media market newcomer, Google must adopt a more aggressive Google Plus product strategy if it hopes to continue its rapid ascension into the mainstream social media market.

The social media marketplace is still maturing, as market incumbents Facebook and Twitter have experienced security, usability, content overflow and content relevancy issues. These are weaknesses Google can exploit in its Google Plus product strategy. Given that Google’s comparative advantages are in search and concept tagging, it makes sense for them to target content relevancy as one of its key product differentiators.

One way Google could do this is by introducing a functionality allowing consumers to filter content by topic, as opposed to by content sharer. Google could easily integrate this concept into their platform by introducing a second type of circle called content circles that allow consumers to identify key content areas that they would like to have pulled from their news stream into content circles. Google has already developed predictive search technology and content tagging algorithms for its search and Gmail products, which could be used as a content identification mechanism or filter and reduce the function development requirements.

By introducing a consumer-focused content filtering mechanism into the Google Plus platform, Google would increase each user’s ability to control the content that they see and vastly improve the user experience, as they would be able to select which content area they would like to view. This would be a vast improvement over the Facebook system that filters a user’s news feed based on past site behavior and demographics, and the Twitter system that relies on content sharer hash tagging and user mentions as content labels.

Unfortunately, neither Facebook nor Twitter does a great job of filtering content, and this is one of the most common complaints about social media. Twitter could partially resolve this issue by introducing a similar functionality to lists that would pull posts based on content hash tags and mentions, but the system would still be relying on users to define topics, which would lead to a less efficient content filtering system than the proposed Google Plus system, as users could spam accounts with faulty content hash tags. Similarly, Facebook could introduce content filters into its system as it has done with friend filters.

Google Plus will have a much easier time integrating these functionalities into its social media platform because the platform was constructed to allow for user filtering and this same concept will be easily applied towards content filtering; whereas Facebook would have to engineer a feature on top of the platform as it did with its version of friend circles. This combined with Google’s comparative advantage in search and content tagging better positions Google Plus to take advantage of this product development opportunity and make its way into mainstream social media.

If you are interested in learning more about Google Plus, I recommend reading my blog post on the Google Plus marketing strategy and how it enabled record-setting early adoption numbers for social media. Similarly if you are interested in learning more about the increasing importance of Google’s +1 button, I also recommend reading my blog post on how the +1 button will change the landscape of social recommendation based search.

Marketing Manager, Pricing Strategy

<strong>Brandon Hickie</strong> is Marketing Manager, Pricing Strategy at <a href="">LinkedIn</a>. He previously worked at OpenView as Marketing Insights Manager. Prior to OpenView Brandon was an Associate in the competition practice at Charles River Associates where he focused on merger strategy, merger regulatory review, and antitrust litigation.