Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Will Google+ Challenge Facebook as THE Social Network?

Google+ is Google's new social media destination. Google seems to do about everything the smart way--from both a marketing and implementation perspective--by slowly expanding and testing beta versions of their new products extensively before opening the flood gates to everyone. As a result, I don't have a Google+ account...yet.

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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Cate said...

Very interesting, although after checking out the demo I wasn't too impressed (design-wise it just doesn't appeal to my taste). Like you, I'll have to wait until it's available to the masses to see if my mind will be changed :)

deep said...

I also think Apple should be concerned that they have not been thought of in this part of the technology war. They are like haemophilia, in the context of royal disease.

Social network wise, facebook ate up orkut, google+ will eat up facebook at least for a while. If any other genius builds a better user-centric killer networking site, facebook or google will buy it, hands down.

Facebook has not been very successful with their group initiatives, like you said and from the demo Google seems to promise better group features, so I can smell monopoly. Google has failed in wave and buzz, but they are the only next hope. People need changes.

Joshua said...

I felt like like a traitor when I left blogger (google) and went to wordpress. As much as i love google, the company isn't perfect. Only time will tell if its SM plus is perfect enough.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Yeah, it's hard to tell from a demo what the real deal will look like, Cate. So, I'll reserve judgment until then.

Deep, I don't think any social network or online site is completely safe. In fact, sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are a little more stable with fewer users, because they serve niches and don't try to offer everything to everyone.

Joshua, they certainly aren't perfect, but they're better than most (most of the time). By the way, I know quite a few who prefer Wordpress over Blogger.