Is Google about to provide the next big social network?

Many social networking sites have been launched over the last few years, each time with the anticipation that they will be the next Twitter or Facebook. Will Google be able to succeed where others have failed? Orkut is Google’s most successful attempt to date and is one of the most visited websites in India and Brazil, but has yet to crack the US market.

Google has the potential to create a great social networking community, they have the user base, they have the tools and they have the industry muscle. At present Google have a lot of social media sites that are too widely spread to create an effective community.

So what does Google have to offer?

There are currently 3 tools that Google have that could be brought together. We have Google +1, Google Latitude and Recommend Followers.

Google Latitude is a mobile app that allows your friends to view your current location on Google Maps, making it easier to stay in touch with your friends and family and share where you are. Good if you’re meeting someone in a location you’ve never been to as you can both track each other’s movement in the town/city. It also tracks what shops, restaurants and theatres you’ve been to.

Idea: So why not use this knowledge to send you a follow up email 24 hours after visiting the store asking you to review your experience. Similar to Foursquare but you get reminded via email to review.

Google +1 allows you to effectively “Like” a website. US users already have the feature and it will be rolled out to everyone soon, check out Google +1 for more information on the service. However, it is not yet integrated into websites, which is something it plans to do but I don’t see a reason to wait.

Idea: The launch of +1 has hardly been met with rapturous applause but allowing users the ability to add the function to their website will get web designers talking.

When you search for something in Google the +1 button allows you to “+1” a search engine result that you like. This will move it up the ranking for you and your gmail friends. However, Google seemed to have missed a trick, with all the information they have about each of our interations with their search engine they could easily add a Recommend Followers feature. Much like Twitter does.

Idea: Google knows what you like so why not tell us people that like similar things and help boost the ranking of sites we are both interested in.

It seems Google are already thinking on the same wavelength if this recent patent is anything to go by. They have a lot of potential to get it right at some point, lets just hope they don’t serve up another Google Buzz mess.

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