Most of you have seen this chart showing the time, date and moment that the world shifted from an email centric society to a social media standard. Much like the role of David Morse at the end of the movie 12 Monkeys, those who have been around for a while simple took a deep breath to satiate our global (time) killer and continue our lives. (click image for source)
I think everyone can agree that social media and texting has take some of the market share and usage time away from email. So I ask, is it really taking time away from email or is it simply a shift in market and consumer usage patterns toward a more streamlined workflow?
I’m not sure of the validity of the chart below but it does show email still has a lot of love (click image for source) and I tend to think it’s somewhat close.
If our usage of texting and social media truly are a shift in workflow, more than simply the trendy thing to do, then I think sites like Google+ are on to something. Not because it’s social media, cool or the new kid on the block but because it supports the centralization of our workflow.
Google tried to do this before and failed like with Orkut, Google Wave (which I thought was great) and Google Buzz, which I still use, just a lot less. Unfortunately neither of them stuck and they didn’t really complete solve the problem.
So what makes Google Plus different from Orkut, Buzz or Wave? A better job of centralization. Think about how and why you use Twitter, Facebook and email and ask why can’t I just use one of them for all of my digital communications.
- Email – still the standard of communication especially for business and more personal or private long-form conversations. It isn’t going to go away but it will likely continue to deminish until it settles into it’s place, likely as a more archival, long-form, personal method of communication, much like the U.S. mail use to be. Keep in mind, this is also the place where most of our real contact records reside. For example; my Gmail contacts list is over 2000, My Yahoo 800, Hotmail about 300 and Facebook is 880. Almost all of the 880 were already in my other contacts lists, except for the high school folks I remember but only really follow on Facebook.
- Facebook – not the first “social networking” site but by far the largest. With over 750 million users, FB is where we have all gone to social network. Why are we here though? Facebook isn’t the best social network, is run by a douche and hasn’t figured out what privacy means to the average consumer? Because everyone is doing it! I joined because my long-lost co-workers and college / high school friends were starting to pop up. Now we are all there, although I notice that after the first 3-6 months most FB users stop or drastically reduce their frequency. Even when I buy ads on FB, it takes weeks to reach even 70% penetration of a market (at a high bid rate) which means people aren’t logging in as frequently as we think or as FB wants us to believe. I’d love to see some stats on the average U.S. consumer usage after 6 months, I think advertisers and FB-advocates might be surprised. Most of their growth is outside of the U.S., in fact 70% of FB users are not in the states, so when FB says 50% of their users log in daily, I wonder what that percentage is in the U.S. and what the average time on site is for U.S. vs. international.
- Twitter – the social sharing site where you can spew whatever you want to the world as long as it’s within the 140 character limit is a U.S. fun zone. Celebrities, the media, bloggers and the throngs of wanna-be celebs are using it to gain and communicate with their fan base. It’s fast, succinct, easily searchable and has a decent chunk of users. For those who don’t care about celebs, 70+% blogger audience or media trying to attract new readers with their real-time updates, it is just a wasteland of absurdly abbreviated words and phrases.
So does G+ meet all of these needs and will it take over the reigns as our communications solution (not social media solution because that is simply a form of contact management and one form of communication).
- As a social network – Google+ works, resolves some security concerns and does what we expect for the most part, it still has room to grow. It doesn’t have the user-base though and even when Google ties it directly into Gmail, they still only have about 300+/- million subscribers. There will have to be plug-ins to other email or social networks to truly entice people away or to use in conjunction with FB.
- As an email solution – Gmail rocks, is solid and has both enterprise and mass-consumer acceptance. G+ is not (yet) tightly integrated into Gmail and until it is, there is a gap in workflow. I have already found myself wanting to send an email but just posting a direct message to someone on G+ because it’s faster and easier. I look at G+ as the middle-tier between email and twitter (which I’ll talk about next). When I can click a button and drop down a window, then select Email, G+, Huddle or Hangout then my dreams come true.
- As a micro-blog – huddles work, as do hangouts but until there is a search tool, a page with the global stream of consciousness flowing like a river of sewage through our lives and a massive audience to care about it…who cares?
- As a blog – one area that I don’t see (yet) is the integration of blogging, which Google has a strong foothold on with Blogger / Blogspot. This fills the public form of archival, long-form, mass-communication.
When I can click a button, drop down a window and select Email, G+, Blog post, Huddle or Hangout then my dreams come true. Why? Because that covers the full-span of communication that I use online.
What about Flickr, Picasa, Shutterfly, YouTube and other social sharing sites? Honestly, I use them within my posts and content on all of the above methods of communication, I don’t see that changing. Although, Google does have a direct channel to market and communicate G+ to over 500 million people because of their ownership of sites like YouTube, Picasa and even Orkut.
What do you think?