Eventually, I will have a Google+ account, so that I can judge for myself how user-friendly it is compared to Facebook, but my guess--based off other Google applications--is that Google+ will blow Facebook away. Google has an excellent track record of creating user-centric products. Plus, I haven't been totally impressed with Facebook's latest versions.
Regardless of what the Google+ experience is like, there are some other issues to consider when trying to predict whether Google+ will offer a challenge to Facebook as THE Social Network.
Facebook already has so many users that some might feel that Google+ has no way of taking on the top online site. I've read many reports that suggest Google is just getting into the game too late and that Facebook can't be caught now. But I don't buy that argument.
First, it hasn't been that long since Facebook took the reins from MySpace. There is not a destination online that can feel comfortable at the top, not even Facebook.
Second, Facebook isn't even at the top according to this report. Google is, though it should be noted that these numbers are not specifically for Google+. Still, it does show that if any online entity has the reach to dethrone Facebook as THE Social Network it is Google.
People use Google to search, to track online analytics, to house their e-mail, to house documents, to get directions, and more. So online users are very familiar with Google.
Other Online Competition
Some people may ask why I'm focusing in on Google+ vs. Facebook, instead of Twitter vs. Facebook or LinkedIn vs. Facebook, etc. The reason is pretty simple, though: I just don't feel like there is another threat to Facebook at the moment.
Twitter and LinkedIn are both sort of specialty sites. Twitter is more for communication and idea-sharing. Plus, that report mentioned above shows that MySpace actually has more unique visitors each month and LinkedIn isn't even in the Top 50. Besides, LinkedIn is very targeted at professional hook-ups, which sort of means it won't ever be able to chase after THE Social Network without completely changing its identity.
Personally, I don't consider Blogger (owned by Google) or YouTube social networks, though they are important social media tools. That means the next closest competitor is MySpace, and Facebook has more than three times as much traffic. It's not even close.
Is Google+ Up to the Challenge?
I really won't know what Google+ is like until I have an actual account. However, based off Google's demo and their proven track record with other sites, I think Google will make things very interesting in the near future.
Those who love Google can get excited. Everyone else can brace themselves.
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Want to improve your social media reach? Check these out:
- Success Secrets of Social Media Marketing Superstars, by Mitch Meyerson
- Social Media Marketing for Dummies, by Shiv Singh
- The Social Network (watch this movie for motivation)
- Binoculars (for watching everything unfold from a safe distance)