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Hey Google…F*** Social.
During my corporate days, my team attended several leadership workshops led by John Maxwell. Over the next few years I realized that John became my favorite leadership/motivational speaker. His ability to draw in an audience and keep a story moving is great- since I left corporate America, I miss his workshops.
Early on in one of his workshops, he explained something that had everyone from my team looking at each other wondering if we should stick around because clearly this guy was off his rocker. He said that everyone does something 80% well – whatever that thing is. Yet in life we try to work on the other 20% – why? For those of you who have worked in a corporate environment, you know what this means. Your yearly progress reports always want you to work on the areas that your boss thinks you need to improve on. But Maxwell said this really makes no sense – what would happen if you focused on the 80% and made that part absolutely amazing? If we work on the 20% we aren’t good at, the best we can do is probably a passing grade, but if we focus on the things we do really well, we would own those areas. Take a minute and think about that concept…
I sit at my desk and day after day I read another blog post or journalist explaining that Google either needs to get into social to compete with Facebook or they are doing a crappy job with the efforts they have put forth to-date. Today Google soft-launched Google+ which Danny Sullivan calls a Facebook competitor. So here’s what I propose…
I am dead serious – stop trying to fix the 20% that you aren’t good at and focus on the 80% that made Google the powerhouse company that it is. I get that Facebook is the sexy social marketing superstar right now and you are a boring utility company and want to feel sexy – forget it – it’s your 20% and it’s a short-term play anyway. And guess what – the utilities stick around for a long time.
Why not kick even more arse in the areas you already do? Why not move us forward on those areas (and guess what +1 isn’t what I mean in terms of moving forward). Google has the financial and human resources that can accomplish these tasks – give us the next generation ad product, office product, maps product, etc. Fix the enormous spam issue on YouTube, clean up the sites you messed up (like this one) in the Panda release. Clearly you believe in looking forward with your launch of Android.
Lastly, if you do want to launch a social network of some sort, I’d suggest waiting until late 2012 when the term “friend” returns to its roots and leaves the current definition of “person who I can market to”. The problem today is that social is more about marketing and creating the largest network rather than networking with only a person’s friends and family. In many of the reviews I’ve read today of your + product, it seems you want to focus on just the close, personal network. Frankly that will last a week – the marketers will want into those circles and once that happens, you won’t be any better than the mess that is a person’s Facebook friends list.
So please Google, put on the horse blinders and focus on making your 80% amazing for the next decade.