Despite most pundits' claims that it is a "dead" social network, Google+ keeps trucking on, now boasting 105 million unique monthly visitors (a 61% increase over last year at the same time) and rolling out a new Communities feature.
In a new post in Fast Company, Dave Llorens picks apart Google's strategy for its fledgling social network, revealing that while it's not really meant to be a Facebook killer, he postulates it will, regardless, become deeply enmeshed in our lives by the end of this year. And, he says, it was never really meant to compete with Facebook directly:
Sure, there’s a social networking aspect to it, but Google Plus is really Google’s version of Google. It’s the groundwork for a level of search quality difficult to fathom based on what we know today. It’s also the Borg-like hive-queen that connects all the other Google products like YouTube, Google Maps, Images, Offers, Books, and more. And Google is starting to roll these products all up into a big ball of awesome user experience by way of Google Plus, and that snowball is starting to pick up speed and mass.
Currently, the bulk of Google+ is comprised of "early adopters: Californians, college students, designers, and Google employees," according to an infographic released last month. But Llorens says this is about to change, thanks to some savvy, targeted marketing on Google's part.
Llorens' theory is that Google is going after three main verticals by giving them Google+ services that make their lives easier, or at least making using the platform a no-brainer: Bloggers get the "authorship" feature, which gives them better SEO for original content. Small businesses now get all their information and reviews in one place - Google Plus Local Businesses - instead of scattered across various other platforms, like Maps and Local. And the general public will see better (required) integration with games, reviews, and more in the coming months. (Communities is just the tip of the iceberg.)
"Google Plus’s brilliant method of gaining new users is playing out right in front of our eyes, but no one recognizes it," he says. If his theory is true, it's going to be very interesting to see how things unfold in the next several months.
Want to learn more about Google+? @NonprofitOrgs is hosting a free webinar about it on January 17. You can also check out this slide deck I presented last summer at the Foundation Center.