Earlier this week, it was reported that Google+ was already approaching 18 million users. Take that compared to Twitter’s 175 million and Facebook’s 750 million and it doesn’t look like a lot, but considering it has only been two weeks – the rate of growth is phenomenal. Clearly Google did something right. What was it?
Launching a product, particularly online, is quickly becoming a necessary and important skill for just about any marketing pro. Here, are a few of the things that I think Google did right, and the science of how they launched Google+ in such a successful manner.
The absolute first thing to notice is that Google launched plus early. If you have been following the news and commentary surrounding the service, you have certainly noticed a cry for many new features. All of which, Google is promising “soon.”
This is a big lesson for many businesses. Often times we try to perfect our ideas, and assume what the user wants without really understanding their needs. This perfectionism and set of assumptions can get us into trouble. With Google’s approach, they launch early, collect feedback, and perfect the product according to the users needs rather than their own assumptions. Google has done this before. Remember, Gmail was in beta for years.
One side note – you can release too early. Google+ was still a mature and well thought out product at launch. No bugs, it was just “incomplete.”
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One of the downsides’ of releasing early is that you have to be ready to iterate quickly. The purpose of a launch is to bring attention to your product as quickly as possible, so you need to be ready. Sometimes we get a launch it and forget it attitude. As if, once we launch, it is done. Hardly. Google’s approach is to launch and then work even harder than ever.
Over the last couple weeks, we have seen Google adjust it’s timeline in many areas to help improve the product. This schedule has worked for them. They gained a lot of momentum at launch, but they have only been adding to it with constant iterations and improvements.
Command the Conversation
If you have spent any time on Twitter or Google+ in the last couple of weeks, you have definitely noticed that conversation surrounding plus has almost exclusively dominated the conversation. For someone launching a new product, this is a dream come true. It is hard enough to get coverage on the day of launch, much less two weeks later. So, what is Google’s secret?
Well, one of them is a constant flow of small amounts of information. Usually, when we launch something, we put it all out there at once. We try to tell the entire story at once. Google didn’t do that. They gave us Google+ with little fan-fare, and then have added little bits to the story as we went along. This trickle approach has given them near command of the social media news feed and a lot of great buzz.
One of the big reasons why Google’s launch was so big, was because they added an element of exclusivity. When plus originally launched, it was only give to a few media elite, but Google allowed them to invite others. This provided a slow tickle effect of accounts to many online. Ok, so it wasn’t so slow.
Google’s invitation only approach set the stage for massive demand for Google+ invites. Users were begging for them on Twitter, and then bragging about them once they had their own golden ticket. Google only added to the hysteria by suspending the number of invites periodically.
Google has additionally created exclusivity with their release of business profiles. They have actively asked businesses and brands to hold off in creating them while they refine the features. Several reports already tell us they have a few elite businesses already testing the products.
Focus on the Product
One of the things that you haven’t seen Google do during this launch is marginalize their competitors. There has been plenty of discussion surrounding the Google+’s obvious similarities to Facebook and Twitter, but none of this conversation has come directly from Google. Why Not?
Google has chosen to focus on the product itself, and not the competitors reactions. Their goals may have started with their competitors products, but it is fairly clear that they have taken on a life of their own. Rather than mimicking and simply providing an alternative offering, they have made something new and focused on the best quality of product that they could provide.
Very early on in the launch, we knew that Google had it’s ears to the ground with Google+. There were several reports of product engineers and managers from Google being active on Google+ and in the support forms surrounding the product. As you can imagine, we will not have access to this level of Google brass down the road. But, during the launch phase it was vitally important.
Google launched early and looked for feedback, but they were also active in the conversation to dispel rumors and clarify the finer points of the service. This comes back to the launch it and forget it attitude. We need to be committed to our launches and see them through to the end. If we take this as an opportunity to learn, maybe even we can launch like Google+.