A couple of weeks back, I wrote about relevancy and the future of user experience on Facebook. I argued that relevancy in Facebook was broken and suggested a way to fix it.
Two days ago, Google released its newest social product, Google+. As I read through the Tech Crunch post explaing what the product was about, I couldn't help but smile. Google's Vic Gundotra was quoted saying:
We believe online sharing is broken. And even awkward. We think connecting with other people is a basic human need. We do it all the time in real life, but our online tools are rigid. They force us into buckets — or into being completely public. Real life sharing is nuanced and rich. It has been hard to get that into software.
Thank you! That's precisely the arguement I made. Google is finally onto something big in the social space! Moving away from the "walled garden" approach that's at the core of Facebook, Google+ focuses more on shared, real-time interests than mapping real life relationships.
Google+ is inherintly relevant. You don't need a virtual handshake of "friending" another person to connect. With Google+, you can hang out with anyone, no strings attached.
So it's open, it's relevant, but is it actionable?
I worte in my previous post about the detailed, localized and actionable relevant experiences on Facebook. What I meant by actionable was giving the user the ability to transact on that piece of relevant content without leaving his/her profile page.
So, does Goolge+ offer that capability?
Not yet, but it's definitely within the realm of possibility.
What's currently missing in Google+ is autodiscovery. Right now, you can follow a topic by creating a "spark." This allows you to get content from everyone following the same topic. However, if someone who's not following that topic shares a related piece of content on the topic, you won't see it.
Sparks depend on the explicit intention of the user (ala Facebook) instead of the context of the shared content itself. As it is today, Sparks are useless, but they can be great!
The good news here is Google can easily implement autodiscovery. If you read In The Plex, you know they can. So the question here is, how can autodiscovery make the experience actionable?
For starters, if Google is able (and it is) to recognize the category and context of every piece of content users share on Google+, then they are able to monetize that content by making it actionable.
For example, let's say I'm into photography. I go ahead and create a "photography" spark to follow all the related content people share on photography. A week later, some random person (who is not following the "photography topic) on Google shares the following post:
Dude, I love my Canon 5D Mark II. It's like the best. camera. ever!
Because Google now recognizes the category and context of content, it flags this content as, "photography, canon, 5d mark II, ….etc." And as a result of that, I would see that post under my "photography" spark … with a link to buy the Canon 5D Mark II from the Google Store or Amazon.com or whatever.
That added link, which is a call to action, is where the power of Google+ lies! By knowing what the content is about, you can enhance it by offering a call to action that makes sense to the user who is more likely to engage with it.
Now think of all the other verticals that this could apply to: travel, financial, automotive, gifts, …etc. Google can partner with subject matter experts in each vertical to provide to help it enhance the relevant experience by making it detailed, localized and actionable.