The recent IPO of LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), S-1 filings from Zynga (ZYNG) and Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN), capital raising by Twitter, and rumors of a potential filing from Facebook have investors looking toward social media platforms as the next bull area in technology.
But are the platforms really social and are they dynamic enough for a plugged in workforce?
Ironically, social media is not that social at all for a number of factors and because of this Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will capitalize with Google+.
Starting with Twitter, it is the mystery wrapped in an enigma. Twitter has helped bring down governments and literally changed to course of history. Yet after seven years the feed base has yet ot be monetized. The website looks the same as it did seven years ago, clumsy and cumbersome to operate.
Third party apps like TweetDeck (recently acquired by Twitter) add additional functionality and give users some freedom but the premise continues to remain static.
New apps like Klout, PeerIndex and Gather help us determine the effectiveness of our social marketing but I wonder if these apps could have been better utilized by Twitter as a premium service.
Groupon was an initial hit but complaints from businesses about the inability to generate significant follow up sales, long wait for payments, and problems doing follow up promotions lends itself to a problematic platform. LivingSocial and Google Offers are significant competitors leading one to wonder if there will be an eventual shakeout.
LinkedIn redefined business social networking but the interface is difficult to manage. Recent updates have made great strides like the newsfeed and recently released Twitter interface but in the end LinkedIn can be a cumbersome tool to utilize.
Facebook has become the model for social media with its almost dominant presence. However, the platform remains cumbersome when compared with the app Better Facebook and the myriad of privacy options that confuse users.
Better Facebook gives the user more control over their profile and news feed which is important when one realizes that Facebook itself is not truly social. The confounding privacy functions and one size fits all profiles lend itself to a very static platform which ends up not being very user friendly. In addition, the numerous posts from online games make me wonder if Facebook’s future is more of a game aggregator rather than a social media platform.
Since Facebook takes a 30% cut of all revenue coming from games on its platform the likelihood that game feeds will disappear is slim at best.
Social media today seems very anti-social. Instead of bringing us together the myriad of privacy and static issues hamper its effectiveness, making social media more of an anti-social media.
This is where Google+ steps into the fray. Initially, I was hesitant, but Google+ makes me see social as it should be.
Privacy features are more upfront than Facebook. No more wading through numerous menus to find a box to click.
The interface is much simpler and intuitive. Streams and Sparks organize areas of interest to the user and Hangouts panicked Facebook enough that it leaped into a relationship with Skype rather than develop the software in-house.
Harkening back to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iCloud offering, the point of social is to make our increasingly complex lives simple and easy to use. Google+ succeeds with a much simpler interface combining the various products in Google’s portfolio in one easy to use service for our social needs.
If Facebook is worth $75 billion as a game aggregator and storage for our photos, Google+ has the potential to considerably add to the market cap as the numerous areas of Google are combined into one easy to use social networking interface.
Google+ will see its official release in the coming months and the integration of Google’s products into an efficient and effective social platform will drive revenues and earnings as investors seek out a truly social experience.
Investors would be well advised to take a closer look at Google as the strong quarter appears to be just the beginning.
Disclosure: I am long AAPL.
Additional disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a position in GOOG over the next 72 hours. I receive no compensation to write about any specific stock, sector or theme.