The brouhaha over Google management’s use of Google+ prove that the media does not understand what makes Google tick or its strategy for the fledgling network.
A recent post on Mashable highlighting Google executives’ lack of public posts on Google+ is catching a lot of steam. Its actually a recap of an “analysis” by Michael DeGusta. The premise is that Google’s top execs aren’t using their own social network when they should be leading by example. I thought this was just another attempt by Pete Cashmore to hear his own voice, until some of my social media savvy friends linked to it. I’d like to add to the discussion three reasons why this is a hub-bub about nothing.
Social Networking is Not a Requirement to Run a Business
Despite what you’ve heard, most of us are not going to get fired for lack of tweets, +1s or status updates. DeGusta points out that Eric Schmidt tweets but doesn’t have a G+ account. Given the premise of the analysis, you’d think that DeGusta would have noticed Schmidt had tweeted just 49 times since 2007, far from what anyone would call “active”. If the paparazzi get pictures of Schmidt banging away on Microsoft Word, fine, make a federal case out of it. If a hacker finds evidence that Gmail is running on Amazon servers, scream from the highest hill. But please, don’t confuse twelve tweets per year with mutiny at the Googleplex.
Engineers Are Not Marketers
Throughout its history engineers have been considered more valuable than marketers. That’s in fact an understatement. In his book Googled: The End of the World As We Know It, Ken Auletta quotes a former employee as saying “The founders don’t value marketing.” The author goes on to say:
Larry Page is aggressively disdainful of marketing and public relations. In early 2008, Page instructed Google’s public relations department…that he would only give them a total if eight hours of his time that year for press conferences, speeches, or interviews.
The founders are engineers by trade, passionate about improving their product, not selling it. Why should we expect them to suddenly shift gears and start shilling? It would actually be more of a story if the introverted founders did start networking like crazy.
Public Posts Are Only a Fraction of Google+’s Potential
If anyone thinks that G+ begins and ends with public posts, they’re missing the long-term value that Google is building. Despite its best efforts, Facebook is all about the posts. That’s what Google tried with Buzz and Wave. In comparison, G+ is all about becoming the center of your online life. It is the intersection of all that Google had built over the last thirteen years. And they will use the mountains of data they have on you to create a truly customized online experience that we can’t yet contemplate.
Google+, like every great development in technology and beyond, is polarizing. People love it or hate it. People see it as the next big thing or the next Facebook wanna-be. I don’t know where it will end up, but I certainly know that their executives usage patterns will have no bearing on the results.