With all of the talk about Facebook vs. Google+, you might forget another company that Google is gunning for. Twitter.
With the history of Twitter well-known, the micro-status updating site has been arguably slow to release new features in recent years. Having launched in 2006, Twitter has grown widespread adoption among celebrities, TV outlets, journalists, and teenagers who love the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber.
But Google has visibility that neither Facebook and Twitter has. Google+ seems to have come at exactly the right time, and Twitter should take notice if it hasn’t already. Today’s release of Google+ Pages shows a potentially long uphill battle for Twitter.
Adoption of businesses on Twitter is still in a testing pattern. Companies like Virgin America and Comcast have done really well at interacting with complaining customers on the platform. However, how can you really help someone publicly in 140 characters or through direct messages? An email or phone call is still necessary.
The Google Apps offering is where Google+ really can destroy Twitter limb from limb. If someone complains about a brand on the platform, the brand can go directly to them and discuss the issue. The email will sit in a Google Apps account, which is a more official and professional way to interact with a customer. It’s easier to track, and can be fed into a CRM solution like Salesforce. Oh yeah, they have Google Voice too.
The company also has an Analytics product at its disposal that it can plug into Google+ at any time. Twitter has been piloting an analytics package, but not much has been seen or heard about it as of late.
Celebrities and Musicians
The tipping point for Twitter was adoption from celebrities. When Ashton Kutcher challenged CNN with the race to a million followers, everyone in the world knew what Twitter was. Celebrities are starting to join Google+, and the platform allows them to interact with fans in ways that 140 characters can’t compete with. Google+ Hangouts and live streams on YouTube provide a way for face-time that Twitter just doesn’t give you.
Instead of attaching media via links on Twitter, I think celebrities will starting to look for a more holistic platform that lets them do everything from one place. Google+ is easily that platform.
For the teams behind celebrities, just being on Twitter is no longer enough. The return on Twitter investment isn’t as strong as it used to be, and Google can provide analytics that will help celebrities become more proficient on its platform. Let’s not forget that Google has its own music service, too. If Google+ can integrate music into its platform the same way that Facebook has done with companies like Spotify, it’s going to get harder for celebrities and musicians to ignore it.
More and more, mainstream journalists are turning to Twitter to break news first. In the earlier days of trending topics, you could get a really good idea of the days events just by looking at them. Now they’re overrun by strange memes and mis-information. It seems like an inaccurate report of someones death trending on Twitter is almost a daily occurrence.
Plugging information directly into Google’s search results alone is attractive for journalists to spread news, as well as gain a following for themselves and their publications. Twitter’s search shows the last 5-7 days worth of tweets, and gives little or no information about the origination of a story. On the other hand, shared stories on Google+ keep important information intact in a way that is more relevant than a retweet. Add in features like Ripple and What’s Hot, and it’s a perfect place to propagate your message.
The rest of us
Even though Twitter embeds photos and videos into its web version, Google+ holds the power of a direct integration with YouTube. Having the #1 video site feeding into your platform is a huge advantage. Users no longer have to search for a funny video, copy the URL, and tweet it. As much as Apple has done to integrate Twitter into iOS, it still feels like a broken experience to tweet content.
I’ve said it a few times, and I’ll say it again, Email is still the #1 social network in the world. Everyone uses it, it works cross-platform, and it drives businesses and personal lives. With Google+ integrated into Gmail, it makes sharing information and getting updates simple. Will people get tired of visiting yet another site like Twitter or downloading yet another app? It’s too early to tell, but at the end of the day, everyone likes things to be easy.
Google, which is one of the hardest companies in the world to figure out, is using social to make sense of all of it. Google+ is getting stronger with each feature release, and it’s too strong to ignore.