I’ve been pretty vocal about my views on how Google is blowing a huge, industry-shifting opportunity with Google+. Most of those views are centered around the company’s inability to know when to let professional marketers take the handoff from the engineers (and accept that it’s ok).
This morning, my friend and fellow corporate misfit, Greg Lowe, posted his views on why he’s abandoning the Google+ party until it figures out how to make its various systems work together. Greg’s not alone. And that’s when it hit me: What would I do if I was running Google+’s marketing today?
Would I allocate gobs of cash from my search business to promote this new product that — according to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt — has the potential to replace search as the backbone of the company? I could. It’s not like Google doesn’t have the money to make Google+ a household name like Facebook or Twitter.
Would I pay a bunch of celebrities and brands bucketloads of moolah to make my new product look cool to people not immediately related to Robert Scoble? I could. Twitter has shown that tactic works pretty well.
Would I initiate basic political and competitive campaign tactics to reshape how press, analysts and other influencers define the market? I could and would.
No, what I’d do is much simpler.
The biggest problem with Google+ right now isn’t that it’s UI is ugly or that people like Greg can’t log in from their different Google accounts. Google+’s biggest problem is that it’s marketing team isn’t harnessing the power of its most passionate customer base: those who take the time to complain about the product’s current shortcomings (early adopters who are core to the growth of the product).
My fix? Have a strike team scour Google+, Twitter and the web for any and all complaints about the product. Capture them. Catalog them. Categorize them. Communicate them. And then turn the engineers lose fixing them. As each issue is addressed, check it off. Keep the list public. There’s a built-in, passionate product marketing department already built into Google: its customers.
People want Google to be successful with Google+. The meteoric sign-ups show many are looking for something that builds on the early foundations laid by Facebook and Twitter. But unless Google gets some basic marketing religion — and gets it fast — their constant drumbeat of “It had potential…” flops will increasingly erode confidence in the company’s core geek foundation.