Google+ Won’t Kill Facebook or Twitter, Google Has a Bigger Agenda

All your online are belong to us.

One of the effects of Google+’s controlled roll out, primarily to tech geeks and Social Media nerds, was an avalanche of “Google+ will be a (fill in the blank) killer” posts.  Twitter – dead! Facebook – dead! Twitter and Facebook – dead! I’ve tried to hold off on such pronouncements because, A) that’s the easy way out, and B) nobody knows what effects exactly Google+ is going to have on the online media habits of millions of people. Let’s not forget, while 10 million users in just a couple of weeks is impressive, it’s still a relatively small sample size.

Others have looked to dissect Google+, such as Ben Kunz, writing for, who hailed Google+ for its lack of game mechanics (a point which I, and others, disagreed with in the comments section). Tom Moradpour went the linkbait route with his Five Fatal Flaws of Google+ post. Personally, I think it’s a bit premature to call them fatal flaws because we don’t have enough data to say they will ultimately derail the platform, and nothing is a fatal flaw when you’re always in beta mode. I’m sure Google will make the necessary adjustments if they see problems and hear from users. Jason Falls, a voice of sanity in all this reminds us all to calm down and keep things in perspective regarding Google+.

Rather than examine Google+ on the micro level, my thoughts lean towards the macro.  Personal preference will determine whether you like Google+ more than Twitter, but when you pull out and look at the larger picture, the advantages of Google (not Google+) seem to be mounting and I’m not sure I can see someone else there who can bring the social firepower to the table to challenge Google.

While I think Google+ is a fine platform I find myself gravitating towards it because of the little red box in the upper right-hand corner. I see it on Google+, I see it in Gmail, I see it in Google News (which has just added some intriguiging game mechanics) and I wouldn’t be surpised if I see it on YouTube in the near future.  Google is going to own my online experience not because all their offerings are superior – though they are all of a very high quality – they are going to own my online experience because they offer me a connected experience of very high quality offerings.

Take a look at this terrific photo essay from Vincent Wong in which he describes What G+ is Really About. According to Vincent, Google+ isn’t so much a threat to Facebook or Twitter (at least not right now) as it is a threat to Microsoft and even Apple because of what Google is building. The breadth of the platforms, especially when you include Android, makes Google a nearly unavoidable part of just about everyone’s life.


Interview with Ethan McCarty, Senior Manager, Digital and Social Strategy, IBM – Part 2

This is the second part of my interview with Ethan McCarty, Senior Manager, Digital and Social Strategy at IBM.   To read the first part of this interview, click here. After looking at IBM’s innovative Social Business @ IBM program in part one, we now turn our attention to IBM’s Expertise Locator initiative…


Rick Liebling: That perhaps is a great segue to talk about the Expertise Locator initiative. Tell me about that.

Ethan McCarty - Every girl's crazy about a sharp dressed Sr. Manager, Social and Digital Strategy man

Ethan McCarty: Sure – we have deployed the first iteration of a webservice we call the Expertise Locator.  The idea behind it is to have a system for identifying IBM experts on various topics and matching them up with the appropriate digital experiences.  For example, if we have a mobile application or a web site that is all about cloud computing, then the IBM team that built that website could tap into the Expertise Locator web service to make the relevant experts show up in the context of that application or website based on business rules (such as the expert’s availability, languages spoken, location etc.)

In terms of engagement and results, we have more than 3,000 IBMers registered as experts within the system — the majority are being surfaced internally (on IBM’s intranet and within collaborative experiences) but a subset are being surfaced externally on and on our centennial site.  Through A/B testing we have found that pages with IBMers on them perform significantly better than those that do not have IBMers on them.  For example, if we have a web page that is designed to get visitors to click deeper into our site, the presence of IBM experts on the page improves both the performance and the overall feedback we get about the page.  It’s kind of no surprise — when we are transparent, people trust us and feel better about the experience.  What was interesting to me is that this is even the case when they don’t interact directly with the IBMer on the page.

As I mentioned, the term “expert” itself can prove challenging but we’re evolving from providing an “IBM Digital Experience” to providing an “IBMer Digital Experience.” The Social Business @ IBM platform also allows us to say to our employees: “We see you engage with a lot of colleagues around topic ‘x’ or interact with a lot of documents covering topic ‘y.’  Are you an expert in that area?” This all occurs in an authenticated environment and allows us to then direct that expertise outwardly.

Rick Liebling: I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface here Ethan, but what would be the one take-away you’d want people to have regarding the idea of Social Business?

Ethan McCarty: Wow, there’s so much to say here…I guess to boil it down, social business is not just about participation in social media.  It’s not just a matter of getting your company to have a

IBM is headed into the future with Social Business

bunch of Twitter handles or Facebook pages.  Rather, my point of view is that what has sprung up on the consumer side is just the tip of the iceberg. The real power to transform is on the business side. This is where a social framework can create new ways to enable sales forces, new ways to discover expertise, new ways to understand your organization’s culture, new ways to establish brand trust with your customers, and much more.


Interview with Ethan McCarty, Senior Manager, Digital and Social Strategy, IBM – Part 1

The emergence of Social Media has transformed how people, and brands, use the web. Crucially, it has also transformed how people and brands interact on the web.  Brands that were early adopters and first movers on platforms like Facebook and Twitter were able to stake out a position as thought-leaders and some were able to leverage that in order to drive business-building initiatives.

Even though Social Media is still in its relative infancy, it has matured. For many brands, that first-mover advantage has disappeared. For other brands misuse or mismanagement has led to a feeling of disillusionment.  We’ve reached an inflection point within the industry and several forward thinking agencies and brands are shaping the future of how brands and their various constituents will engage and interact in digital spaces.  People like Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute, Amber Naslund of Radian6, Azeem Azhar of PeerIndex and Kris Duggan of Badgeville are some of these leaders.

But on a more fundamental level is the notion of Social Business. First put forth by the Dachis Group, Social Business [in their words, is:] “the intentional creation of dynamic and socially calibrated systems, process, and culture. The goal: improving value exchange among constituents.”

Recently David Armano wrote about Social Business on the Harvard Business Review blog and the article generated a spirited debate in the comments section. I think Social Business is still such a new concept that definitions and meanings are malleable, thus leading to misunderstandings or just various interpretations.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ethan McCarty, Senior Manager, Digital and Social Strategy at IBM about Social Business and what the technology giant was doing in this area. The result was a wide-ranging and spirited conversation that gave me a new perspective and greater clarity on the notion of Social Business. Specifically we spoke about IBM’s Social Business @ IBM and Expertise Locator programs and how those programs are changing the way IBM thinks about Social Media both internally and externally.

NOTE: Below is an account of our conversation based on my handwritten notes. I’ve done my best to capture the tone, spirit and meaning of Ethan’s statements, but the following dialogue should not be construed as verbatim quotes.

Rick Liebling: First, what was the impetus for Social Business @ IBM?

Ethan McCarty: IBM has a long history of digital collaboration. In the 1960s and ‘70s the company built a nascent intranet system to share information amongst colleagues. In the 1990s, IBM gave employees unfettered access to the Internet at a time when many companies were putting up firewalls that restricted access all together.  Over the last decade IBM has been a leader in pioneering blogs and proto-wiki platforms on internal networks.

As IBM embarks on its second century, our focus, rather than looking back at the progress we made, is to look forward to the next 100 years.

Continue reading