So Google+ is a social network. So is Facebook. So is Twitter. So is LinkedIn. There are a lot of social networks on the web. Why, then, did Google decide to get into the social networking thing?
Itâ€™s all about owning the eyeball and the advertising revenue. With the rise of social networking over the past half dozen years, and especially with the growth of Facebook, Google saw a threat to its space on the internet. Even though most of us view Google as a search company, and even though social networking seemingly has little or nothing to do with web searching, Google still viewed social networking as a competition. Let me explain.
Google+ is an Advertising Medium
It helps if you know how Google generates its revenues and profits. While you might think of Google as a search company, itâ€™s really an advertising company. Google sells a ton of online ads â€“ on its own search results pages, on the pages of the other online services it offers (such as Gmail, Google, Calendar, and the like), and on third-party sites who let Google serve ads on those sites. In fact, Google generates more than 95% of its revenues from advertising; less than 5% comes from licensing its search.
What Google is always looking for, then, are new places to sell its ads. Thatâ€™s one of the reasons Google keeps coming up with new products of all flavors; eventually, it can sell as space on those services.
With this in mind, you can see where Facebook becomes a competitor for Googleâ€™s ad business. When an advertiser has the choice of placing an ad with Google or with Facebook, Google wonâ€™t always get the nod. If Google had its own competing social network, however, it then can complete more effectively with Facebook for those advertisers.
So one of the reasons Google created Google+ was to help its advertising business stay competitive.
Google+ is a Content Generator
In addition, thereâ€™s a lot of content generated on social network â€“ facts, opinions, advice, and whatnot, all cloaked as personal posts. Googleâ€™s main search business is all about collecting, ranking, and delivering content in response to user queries. If Google could add social networking content to its normal web search results, it would deliver more and better search results to users â€“ which, in turn, would help it place more and more expensive ads within those search results.
For the past year or so, Google has tried to work with Facebook to integrate its posts into Googleâ€™s search results. â€œTriedâ€ is the operative word; Facebook wasnâ€™t that amenable to sharing its content, and Google really couldnâ€™t get much without Facebookâ€™s cooperation. In fact, Facebook ended up doing a deal with Microsoftâ€™s competing Bing search engine, where Facebook status updates are fed to Bing users as part of their search results.
So Google was left out in the cold in regard to expanding its search results with social networking content. What to do next? The answer was simple; start its own social network. Google could then integrate the user-generated content from its own social network into its own search engine. More content, generated from its own users. Thatâ€™s a win-win for Google.
Google+ is the Latest Thing Â Â
I also think that Google wanted to get into social networking space because itâ€™s new and cool. Search used to be new and cool, but that was ten years ago. Google isnâ€™t used to being thought of as an â€œold technologyâ€ company, but letâ€™s face it, Google is now an established player in the tech industry; the bloom is off the rose, as it were, by entering the social networking space, Google can once again be on of the cool kids at the table, and that always has appeal.