I thought of doing this post about the face-off between Google+ and Facebook.com a few weeks ago but decided on watching the trend of things, at least, for a little longer so that I can actually have a vantage position from which to make my submissions!
I'm sure it's no longer news that two of the online giants are at over who dominates the online social media/social networking game. For some time now these two have been in the news. It all started when Google, after its earlier failed attempt once again joined the social networking game by launching Google+.
Following that launch, a kind of war song mostly played by bloggers and online content publishers flowed from every quarter. The import? Google and Facebook.com are at war. And from every indication, the two (Google and Facebook) are enjoying the war dance as they have continued with the muscle-flexing through out-doing one another with new changes!
As if it has been waiting for some push, Facebook, over the past few weeks, has introduced a whole lot of changes like the launching of a new online music service on September 22 and even changes in the layout of the site. All of these is aimed at staying relevant in the social networking game.
As this war cry is going on, the question many are asking is, can Google Plus overtake Facebook in this game?
Indeed many bloggers have tried to answer this question. But I for one believes their answers are personal opinions as the game is still being played out.
For example, some of those who have tried to answer this question argue that with over 750 million account users, Facebook holds the aces. Unfortunately, many of those who are of this view have not considered the fact that Facebook is not just competing with Google+ but with Google.com who has proved in its own merit that it is a colosus online.
So the question is not about Google+ displacing Facebook from the social networking game but Google.com putting all of its online resources into playing the game and coming out on the top!
Google may have gotten it wrong with their previous attempt at launching a social media site but from all indications they have learnt their lessons and this time they are here to make a difference. This fact is already playing out in the success so far recorded by Google plus!
According to a report by Reuters, Google+ reached 25m users in barely just a month after launching. This is much faster than Facebook.com which took about 3 years and Twitter.com that took about 3o months to reach that number.
Take a look at this graphic with a comparison of the growth of Google+ with Facebook.com and Twitter.com:
Of course, we may not use this outstanding growth rate to give the game to Google+ just yet for Twitter and Facebook took some time in educating most of us about social networking and now Google+ is clearly reaping the rewards in a big way!
But like I said, it's not about Google plus but Google.com. Indeed, Google+ is riding on another big PLUS which is the millions of online users who already have Gmail accounts and therefore have easy access to a Google+ account.
But there is still another plus working for its exponential growth and that is..
Online Social Networking Has Evolved!
This is really the big one I think Google+ is exploiting to the fullest which some of the earlier social media sites did not exploit in good time. As we are aware, a few years ago online social networking was about sharing photos, interacting with school mates, chatting with friends and some other social activities that have to do with personal interests. But that has really changed.
I'm sure you'll readily agree that the recent growth of Facebook and Twitter can be attributed to the in-flock of online marketers, businesses and politicians who now see the social networking sites as ready avenues for easily reaching their target audiences with less cost. This is where I think Google has gotten it very right.
And how did they do it?
It's in the concept of "Circles" in Google+. (It does appear that the guys at Facebook.com agree with this because they have also introduced a similar concept in Facebook). This single addition in G+ shows that Google is very much aware that social media and social networking has evolved from being just online photo sharing sites to real networking tools whether at the personal or professional levels.
In introducing "Circles" Google has this to say:
Circles: share what matters, with the people who matter most
Not all relationships are created equal. So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss. The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food—wrapping everyone in “friend” paper—and sharing really suffers:
•It’s sloppy. We only want to connect with certain people at certain times, but online we hear from everyone all the time.
•It’s scary. Every online conversation (with over 100 “friends”) is a public performance, so we often share less because of stage fright.
•It’s insensitive. We all define “friend” and “family” differently—in our own way, on our own terms—but we lose this nuance online.
In light of these shortcomings we asked ourselves, “What do people actually do?” And we didn’t have to search far for the answer. People in fact share selectively all the time—with their circles.
From close family to foodies, we found that people already use real-life circles to express themselves, and to share with precisely the right folks. So we did the only thing that made sense: we brought Circles to software. Just make a circle, add your people, and share what’s new—just like any other day.
For me that is really thoughtful of the guys at Google. And I'm sure they were able to figure this out because they have been watching the market and know where online social networking is headed.
I, for one, have been concerned with this. As a Facebook account holder I had most times wanted to share some personal messages with my family and close friends using facebook. But that was not possible because a whole lot of other "friends" who really should not see such personal messages are open to seeing them. The same goes for business postings which were intended for a specific target group but when posted goes all out to your facebook friends.
Of course, like I said before, Facebook.com has introduced some changes that somehow deal with this issue. But it's clear that because Facebook's settings are so confusing most people have no idea on how to handle these changes. Indeed in the previous settings there was no way of differentiating between family, friends or business associates. Besides that, third party apps installed by other people on Facebook have a way of spamming and littering your wall. All of these have been problems that many people have been putting up with until Google+ came along.
So, by figuring these things out and incorporating them into Google+ as "Circles," Google has shown that they know what the market wanted. Of course, we cannot take it away from them. Google have the market power and when it comes to data about what is going on around the net Google is number one. With the power of its search engine and other tools covering areas like marketing, webmaster tools, email etc. they cannot be compared with any other. Not even Facebook with over 750 million user accounts!
Another question I'll want to touch on, which is already gaining more force online is:
Should You Migrate To Google+ or Stay With Facebook.com?
Like I said earlier, many bloggers and online marketers believe that one of these social media giants will be the last man standing after all said and done! In fact, many already favor Google+ to have the upper hand. And so, there are already a whole lot of tips on how to migrate from Facebook to Google+ being posted by bloggers and other online content publishers. For example, PCworld.com published an article some time ago on why you should move from facebook to Google+. HowToGeek.com also did a post on how you can make that move possible by migrating all your data from facebook.com to Google+. Must say if you're having the mind of moving those two articles will be of great help.
However, I think this should not be the question right now. Of course, I see Google integrating Google+ using Google Accounts (I think this is already going on) but still I am of the opinion that an out right move to Google+ is not the right decision at least for now. Of course you can always keep the two accounts. The two may be at war of supremacy but I see it as a positive one for us the users. I see a situation where both services will improve their facilities and when this happens you can, of course, take a look at the two and make your choice depending on what you're looking for.
For example, before now many have complained of the problem of privacy on facebook without any appreciable response. But with what is happening right now I believe some of these issues will be taken care of and things will improve.
I also see each of these sites finding their own area of usefulness and thereby gaining more power in that area. And of course, when this happens you will want to take advantage of it. So migrating from facebook now to Google+ should be out of the question.
As for me I'm watching and enjoying the battle. No, I'm not watching for one to fall. I truly believe that the more the better! All of them staying afloat mean more opportunities to choose from, or don't you think so?
Over to you: Are you already on Google+? How do you compare Facebook.com to Google+? Give your opinion in the comments below.