Google has been pretty successful at just about everything its engineers have attempted, with the glaring exception of social media. Still getting trounced by Facebook and losing buzzshare to upstarts like Twitter and Foursquare, the company plans to get aggressive, starting with new social features in Gmail.

You can already video-conference with your friends in Gmail. If a report in The Wall Street Journal is to be believed, you’ll soon be sharing photos and keeping better tabs on them as well.

The company recently made a big hiring push to staff out something called the “Social Web Team.” Google may have the most visited website in the galaxy, but the executives in Mountain View are clearly worried that they’re bombing at the biggest Web trend.

Social pioneers Friendster and MySpace were more like Faceplant than Facebook, which continues to grow beyond its 350 million active users. Google has made attempts to get in on all that poking, to little effect.

Read more about Google’s Social Web Team here, and its plans for Gmail here and here. — PZS

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