Social Utility: Google vs. Facebook

by Jay Deragon on 11/04/2011

Ever since Google launched G+ the opinions, theories and conversations about their strategy have exploded throughout the social-sphere.  Is Google a competitor to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and all those other branded social networks?

Jolie O’Dell at Venturebeat writesToo many pundits and tech bloggers have made the mistake of thinking of Google+ as a Facebook competitor, but it’s absolutely not — at least not as far as Google is concerned.

Social media experts and bloggers who were one month ago hailing the fledgling service as the second coming of Christ are now calling it a graveyard and a ghost town. Bradley Horowitz says “I don’t blame the pundits,” he says, “they’re not privy to our long-term strategies.”

Who Has The Best Social Utility?

In economics, utility is a measure of relative satisfaction. In other words, it is a term referring to the total satisfaction received by a consumer from consuming a good or service.

Social refers to the interaction of people with other opeople and to their collective co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary.

Thus a social utility refers to a measure of relative satisfaction people have with the tools they use to interact and share with other people and to their collective co-existence.

So if G+ is not another social network could it be a social utility? Could their strategy clearly be aimed at becoming the “power source” of information, connections, interactions, tools and commerce to fuel our lives?  If so then one would wonder if they are satisfying consumers better than others.

Social Utilities Are About Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is driven by experience and perceived value of consuming something. Satisfaction is influenced by a variety of variables but driven by the voice of the customer.

“We don’t know yet how Google+ will fare, but what we do know is that Google is one of the highest-scoring companies in the ACSI and Facebook is one of the lowest,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. “An existing dominance of market share like Facebook has is no longer a safety net for a company that is not providing a superior customer experience.”  Google leads the search engine and portals category (up 4% to 83).  Facebook (+3% to 66) is the lowest-scoring site, not only in the social media category, but of all measured companies in this report.

Any strategy of any value is driven by meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Unmet and met customer expectations determine levels of satisfaction. Both Facebook and Google create revenues from advertisers but advertisers pay more to be where the customer are and where they are satisfied.  Customers go where there is the greatest utility.

All things social are now expected. Building a social utility without considering customer satisfaction is the same as saying that customer expectations do not matter.  In a market of choices they who satisfies the customer most always wins. Facebook’s dominance of market share is no longer a safety net since they are not providing a superior social utility.  Google is.


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Virtual Office November 4, 2011 at 7:19 am

Facebook Likes, Google’s +1, retweets, Digg votes; when it comes to the social web, every social signal is a positive signal

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