Is Google a Waning Giant?

This post was sparked by a email thread with my coworkers at Waggener Edstrom, shouts to them all.

Is Google a waning giant? Yes, they are tightening their grip on long tail with Plus, social integration, etc., but in the past (AOL, MySpace, more) this tightening equated to a grasping for relevance while the market rolled on, and away.

I wonder about the users whose social messages appear in the search rankings, or the users who click the “+1 button.” Will social-capital be enough for them if their words appear in the search results? Will their Klout rewards be enough?

Brand-strength, built through a well crafted integrated, marketing campaign, will be what bubbles up from this recipe. If you look at the magnetism of brand such as Starbucks, it probably has more to do with their services and loyalty than with their social media actions. As example, I did some modest analysis for a client of a handful of corporate Twitter accounts mentioned in a Mashable post.  I used my “Matrix” exercise to manually peg these accounts to a graph.


What I found is nearly all of this test group are repeatedly speaking to the granular of their markets with hopes of resonation. More importantly, it seems, that their following is not based on their Twitter actions, but based on the “spectacular-ness” of their brand. Starbucks and JetBlue have a huge amount of followers when compared to Delta or Taco Bell or Dunkin’ Donuts. So although Dunkin’ Donuts is doing a great job with social to keep the momentum with their audience, more people are potentially “listening” to Starbucks.

In regard to Google’s further grip on the tail: Is the next step in the evolution of the social-search space a gaggle of smaller search-engines focussed on segments? A food search engine? A coffee one? What if Kayak also offered a search algorithm of the social conversations around travel? Isn’t this what the Apps eco-system is teaching us?

My question is: while Google screens through the mud to gather up the gold dust, where is the next vein to chunk away the bounty?