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Google+: 1 Network Too Many?

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner is reported by Business Insider to have expressed the idea that adding Google+ takes the social networking landscape from “understandable” to unmanageable.  In his view, there are already enough social networks to fill consumers’ available free time.  Weiner’s assessment misses the mark on two counts.

Miss 1 | Views yesterday’s leader board as good enough

Weiner assumes that the status quo of yesterday’s social networking landscape was optimal.  Perhaps for LinkedIn, who liked the devils they knew in terms of competitors, this was true.  But the over 10 million users and 1 billion items shared that Google+ has accumulated in just its first two weeks, indicate that consumers have plenty of interest in and available time for adding social platforms to the mix.

Weiner doesn’t prefer a new entrant because he views that each existing platform had its own role (Facebook for personal, LinkedIn for work).  This assumes that consumers want separate platforms for separate uses or that they actually separate their work and social lives (highly debatable).

In reality, consumers have time for better tools.  They don’t only spend their free time using social networking sites (think LinkedIn is only used at home or on weekends?) and they have an interest in optimizing their time using the platforms that best meet their needs. Weiner’s concern that there is too much choice in the fast-moving and consumer driven social networking space (which boasts only a few MAJOR players, anyway) seems bafflingly paternalist and backward-thinking.

Miss 2 | Believes social networks are not used in parallel

Mysteriously, Weiner also stated that, “Unlike social platforms and TV, which can coexist, you don’t see people using Twitter while they’re using Facebook, or using Facebook while they’re using LinkedIn.”  Really?  Many consumers have accounts on various platforms as well as apps which allow them to monitor and share on multiple platforms simultaneously.  For example, I use TweetDeck to monitor Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all at once and I publish new blog posts on Twitter and LinkedIn at the same time.

Weiner seems to see social networking as a zero sum game in which all users and their time are already accounted for.  The space will get overcrowded and there will eventually be considerable consolidation. But for now, options and solutions are expanding. New people join in new social dialogs daily, they are sharing more than ever, and new platforms are still meeting new needs.  In other words, Google+ is still a + and not a – unless you’re another platform worried about losing share.

What do you think is Weiner’s motivation – consumer protection, LinkedIn mindshare conservation, or something else?

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