Google's viral propaganda war against Facebook and Twitter
Google's latest attempt to imitate Facebook and Twitter, Google+, is already declining and starting to fail, before it is even fully launched. Google+ is widely expected to be another embarassing GFail, like Wave, Buzz, Orkut, and all previous attempts by the corporation to get into social media. Already, people have lost interest in Google+ after the initial hype and inevitable subsequent anticlimax.
Google's strategy with Google+ is simple: copy what Facebook and Twitter are doing, to try and get a slice of their success. Google has more than enough cash and manpower to make it happen. They have huge backing, too, for instance on the world's most popular tech blog, Mashable.com. which is dominated by outspoken Google/Apple fanboys, has put a Google+ banner at the top of every page, and delivers a steady flow of advertorial type headlines and articles about Google+ every day even though nothing new is happening. The disproportionate levels of hype surrounding every Google launch serves only to heighten the embarrassment each time Google fails. Google+ will not beat Facebook and Twitter because, alas, the folks at Google clearly just don't "get it" as I'll explain -- and unfortunately they have clearly refused to admit their previous mistakes let alone learn from them. Perhaps Google has become so accustomed to preaching to the converted, with their networks of sycophantic worshippers, that they've lost touch with objective opinion. It's no wonder that professional commentators are already talking of the beginning of the end for Google, and the post-search era.
The most dissapointing part of this story is the underhanded way in which Google is attacking their rivals. It's a defining characteristic of Google, conceived as part of their strategy against Microsoft. Among the older generation of commentators it's still widely considered cool and trendy to bash Microsoft and worship Google/Apple, but it's easier to see it for what it is when the same tactics are deployed against newer brands. See below for the most infamous examples of Google+'s viral anti-Facebook propaganda.
Google's business model is now based on imitation and dirty-tricks, backed-up by acquisitions -- instead of innovation. The corporation has firmly established this pattern as their long-term modus operandi . Google led the way in web search and have been dining out on that ever since, but that was a decade ago now. The web has fundamentally changed, but Google has not. The web is in a new stage of evolution, from a medium facilitated exclusively by search to one driven by social. Facebook has already overtaken Google as the most used website, and this trend marches onward with unstoppable momentum. Google is on the way out, and they know it, and they are scared. Sadly, for ten years Google has squandered the cultural and financial capital from web search, resting on their laurels, and that is why they have been left behind, Search remains important today, but we can see the future already simply by extrapolating current trends. The whole operation smacks of desperation, with Google resorting to "celebrity acquisition", and official Google+ community managers mysterioisly know (and announcing) when celebrities join.
Google has proved more than once that the people making the decisions just don't "get" social. The curious thing is, I don't think anybody really "gets it". Even if they wanted to, the folks at Facebook and Twitter couldn't bottle and sell the magic formula that makes them work as well as they do. Luck plays a big part. Facebook and Twitter were two tech start-ups among countless others which tried and failed. Furthermore, the fundamentals of Facebook and Twitter are not unique -- for instance we've also had MySpace, Bebo, FriendFeed, and many other directly comparable social networks which never came close to achieving the same levels of popularity. Facebook and Twitter happened to have the right ingredients at the right place and the right time. It's a bit like the way life came into existence here on Earth but not on any other planet we've looked at so far.
Facebook and Twitter played defining roles in the creation of social, and they have been riding the wave like two master surfers ever since. In the same metaphorical context, Google+ is so very much like the stereotypical surfer wannabe, with a rich dad, who purchased the campervan, a nice board and wetsuit -- then paddled out to sea with everyone watching, but the surf is no longer up and there's no wave to ride. It's awkward to watch.
A few examples of the prolific viral/sharable propaganda on Google+
Notice the similarities in style between these Google+ propaganda images, suspiciously reminiscent of Google's famous homepage doodles. A small number of individuals, some openly employed by PR agencies or by Google, are sharing large numbers of these. It's no exaggeration to say that Google+ propaganda images constitute the most common category of images I'm seeing on Google+. I've followed thousands of people, systematically following as many people as possible, and a surprisingly large proportion of them openly work in PR or for Google. Some people have entire Google+ photo albums dedicated to Google+ infomercial images. The news feeds of these people each consists almost entirely of links to positive articles about Google+, lengthy advertorials with tips for using Google+, etc.
School bully video
This is a standard example of the viral Google propaganda that's been circulating on Google+ since the beginning. From day one, there was a huge variety of material like this. It's reasonable to conclude that it was produced by Google or at least by the PR agencies on their payroll. It's a video of a fight in a school playground, with brand logos superimposed over the combatants' heads, and converted to an animated GIF so it plays on any platform. Notice how Facebook is represented by the skinny guy who starts the fight, while Google+ is represented by the big guy who easily wins -- distorting the reality of the situation on every level, as propaganda material often does. I saw this example many times on the first day of Google+, and several times since. I've seen several people on Google+ claiming that they made this video, which has been converted to an animated GIF to work on any web browser, but these folks almost invariably turn out to be either employed by a PR agency in the US or an unemployed teenage mother. It's a great video, but doesn't reflect what real people seem to be thinking and saying about Google+.
Evolution of man
In this image, a standard diagram depicting the evolution of Homo sapiens from more primative species is depicted, culminating in modern man representing Google+, with the extinct primitive spp. represented of course by Facebook and other social nets. Again, this is more a reflection of Google's aspirations that what any real users or commentators are saying.
A similar example of a G+ propaganda image using the "evolution of man" metaphor, perhaps one of the concepts produced by the very same agency.
Google is sexy.
They do say that sex sells. There was even an experiment recently with monkeys and food!
Are you addicted to Google+?
I've heard of people addicted to Facebook and Twitter, but nobody I know is is addicted to Google+.
Google+ kills your social life as much as Facebook?
That's what this example seeks to imply, but I don't think so! This does look inspired by government information posters and resembles famous examples of wartime posters.
Everyone loves Google+?
Comic strip depicts a guy representing Facebook saying to a guy representing Google (surrounded by adoring worshippers of course): "Don't you realise he [Google+] is the same as me [FB] but without all the bad stuff?"
Google+ aint' stealing your stuff
Editor's note: ok, there are just too many of these to do in one day, so I'll just paste in a few more in and curate them properly later on if I have time.
(The viral potential of content featuring cats is well proven!)
29 July 2011