Google+: Should Facebook Be Worried?

We all know that the social networking world just got a little more crowded with the introduction of Google+. This fast growing new network aims to dominate the reigning social champion that is Facebook and people sure are buzzing like Google+ has a chance. However, one must pose the question: Is Facebook actually nearing its end and will Google+ dethrone the king?

The answer is simply, no. Too many roadblocks are in Google’s planned path to the top. For one, with over 750 million users, Facebook has become very, very well established on a worldwide basis. In fact, if Facebook were a country, it’d be the third most populous nation in the world. Google+ has too long a way to go to even remotely come near the power of Facebook. It’s like the iPod and Zune situation that happened a few years ago: the iPod was too popular for any other competitor to have a chance in the market and, ultimately, the Zune died. Where is the space for Google+?

Seriously, congratulations to Google+ for reaching ten million users in a very quick three weeks when it took Facebook three years to reach twelve million users. The speed of Google+ adoption surely is impressive. However, let’s think critically about these numbers.

The people who have created a Google+ account are clearly interested in social media and it must be a fairly large part of their life to actually want to test out a beta version of a new service. Because of this, it’s safe to say that most Google+ users still use their Facebook to stay connected with their friends on that service. They’re still updating their status, sharing newsworthy stories, and uploading photos. So, just because Google+ has twenty million users does not mean that Facebook has lost twenty million. To be honest, I’ve created a Google+ profile but do not use it because what is there to do? I can choose to communicate with the seven people I’m connected to on Google+ or communicate with these seven and over 500 more on Facebook. The choice is easy.

The numbers are only one side of the story, though. Additionally, requiring people to switch from a well-established service is too large a barrier for Google+. The activity of Facebooking has practically become a ritual activity for most young people. Who doesn’t have the App on their smartphone, use Chat to communicate with friends during a college class, or check their News Feed after work? For many, Facebook has become an ingrained, required activity in their day and users have invested hours upon hours into their profiles. Many people have tons of interests, connected to pages and groups, and filled their page with large amounts of pictures and videos. Basically, Google+ is asking people to scrap their efforts on Facebook and start fresh, only to redo the same things all over again.

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Google+Plus vs Facebook

And, what about my 50-something year old parents and all the other late Facebook adopters? What has caused Facebook’s numbers to increase so much lately isn’t the same as to what caused it to grow a few years ago. Lately its older, middle-aged adults finally, maybe grudgingly, creating accounts, not young people. These people have created an account probably because they felt they have to in order to stay connected. I highly doubt that they would at all be interested in switching their learning and using efforts to a new service like Goolge+.

This brings us to the point that Google+ is nearly identical to Facebook. Where is the incentive to create an account on a site that offers the same service? Some will say that Google+ has features that Facebook does not, like Circles and Hangouts. This is not true. Facebook already has a Circles feature titled Lists. Truth be told, most people do not use Lists, but it is still there. Also, Facebook has already matched Hangouts with Skype integration.

It really comes down to a one or the other decision because people do not have any more time to devote to social media. To communicate with both Facebook and Google+ users would make even the simplest task tedious. Can you really imagine someone updating their status on both services, let alone posting photos?

I believe the deal breaker for Google+ is the number of people on Facebook. Simply put, people will stay where their friends are: and their friends are on Facebook.

With two highly similar social networks, the best that will come out of this situation is innovation. Both services are competing with each other, with nearly endless resources I’ll add, trying to best the other’s features. This will only benefit the end-user and, ultimately, in my opinion, Facebook users. A theoretical example is Google+ could develop a new feature; Facebook would see what works and what does not and then provide their users with an innovation that works better, thus eliminating a reason to switch services. In fact, Facebook should take a hint from Google+’s Circles and redesign Lists.

Because Google+ has been positioned as a “Facebook killer”, it has neglected to compete with easier, less established targets like LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook has become for friends and family, LinkedIn is for professionals, and Twitter has become a nearly unmanageable free-for-all where content is basically lost forever minutes after posting. I’d love to see Google+ repositioned to invade Twitter’s space.

Now I’m going to bring up the debacle that is (was?, I don’t know anymore) Myspace. Google+ does not seem to have much to offer in order to do to Facebook, what Facebook did to Myspace. Where Myspace failed was in their lack of a definite marketing strategy. Sure, at first it was a way to connect to friends, and then all I saw was a music promotion website that was all the while becoming unusable due to outrageous load times from dancing and glittering backgrounds, instant-starting videos and audio files, and endless spam posts about checking out a new artist or porn website. Facebook stepped in and defined itself as an easy, clean way to socialize online. We know that Facebook’s strategy works because it has allowed it to reach an estimated value of around 75 billion dollars. This isn’t to say that Google+ couldn’t take over one day, but Facebook must be doing something extremely right in order to have been around so long.

Google+ simply cannot be the same service that Facebook is. If they do not find a better strategy to position their offering, Facebook has nothing to fret about.

What does everyone else think about Google+? Are you deleting your Facebook and making the big switch? Did I miss something completely? Please share your thoughts.

August Drilling

August Drilling works for CliqStudios.com, an online site for kitchen cabinets, and is a social media enthusiast and aspiring marketing and advertising guru.

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22 Comments
  1. John Pitchers Jul 28, 4:42 pm

    Yes. Agree totally. Lots of buzz about Google+ but once you’re logged in and using it, it’s hardly revolutionary. One positive about Google+ is the users are more mature and generally more techically capable than your average facebook user. But, I wonder how long it will be before we need to filter out the horoscopes, roulette and texas poker invites.

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  2. Rebecca Jul 28, 4:57 pm

    Myself, I find google+ to be a breath of fresh air. As soon as everyone else gets on board, it’s goodbye to facebook.
    Google+ is a revolutionary way to network online, and by network, I mean it in its full sense. You can engage with strangers through mutual interests, share information, and have full discussions without character limits, needing to get contact details for another medium to converse better, or a need for permission at both ends. Providing the parties are willing, you can socialise with an already established circle of friends and become a part of it.
    Neither facebook, nor twitter, provide you with the same ability to connect.

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  3. Tim Lankow Jul 28, 5:59 pm

    I agree that Facebook has become such a habitual part of many people’s daily activity that is will not be easily overthrown. However, Google’s reach is incredible. It is amazing that it only took 16 days to reach 10 million users.

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  4. Daniel hanks Jul 28, 6:51 pm

    Ok so there are 10 million users on google+. Where the he’ll are they all?

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    • BingoPics.com Jul 29, 1:36 pm

      Dude, why G+ got these millions in few days, because they already have no of services associated to one platform with single email address (gmail), so it was easy for them to send invitation to all of their existing circle. also they have a huge impact on internet. they have learned from the failure of google wave. thats why they hit this figure.

      on the other hand. twitter and facebook were totally new with no supportive service as google have. so they really did hard work to make place among people. If Im not wrong they performed more then google to capture people. I’m still with twitter and facebook. G+ is exciting and a relief to tired professionals. but still it has just updates system similar to twitter in someway. there is nothing more special for pros there. but I hope they will improve it in few days but it shouldn’t take months :)

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  5. David Escalante Jul 28, 7:54 pm

    Well. I find google+ quite impressing.

    Personally, its the social network everyone were looking for:
    · Its simply
    · Clean
    · Organized
    · Fast
    · Intuitive

    It took me about a few days to understand Facebook and MySpace, it took me a few minutes to understand Google+

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    • Geoffrey Gordon Jul 28, 11:02 pm

      Totally agree, love the new clean look and feel, but Google products are now hard to find. Before you could access analytics, feed-burner etc.. from your account, now it seems to have disappeared. It seems you have to go to each of Google services manually and log in. :(

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  6. David Jul 28, 8:12 pm

    I’ve nearly quit using my Facebook account. I’m tired of changes every time I log into my account, and messy navigation. I’ve watched the same thing happen to Facebook that happen to MySpace. They created a great service, then ruined it with unneeded changes and complications that people grew weary of. I think Google+ may derail the Facebook train as Facebook seemed to do to MySpace. It may take a little longer seeing how Facebook is much larger than MySpace ever was. I hope Google+ gets it right and leaves it alone.

    I liked MySpace way back when. Then they made it extremely user unfriendly. Then the ads became a huge issue with advertisements running videos, music, and popups. All slowing down the load time of pages. I liked Facebook when it first came out. But now they’ve over complicated the messaging system, made the options a pain to manage if you wish to see everyone’s posts rather than the ones you have talked to most recently. You would think all the money they sink into these social networks that someone would get paid enough to be good at user experience and user interface practices.

    I say, bring on Google+!

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  7. Geoffrey Gordon Jul 28, 10:58 pm

    Hey August

    Great points on the google+ aspect, facebook could certainly take a page out of the circles idea, that really helps you to share certain content with certain people rather than everyone. On the other hand I think Google’s +one idea of book marking pages right in the search, tops all other bookmarking platforms, like Digg, Stumble and Reddit. I will be interesting to see where Google goes with this new Google plus angle.

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  8. alf Jul 29, 1:37 am

    Personally I can’t stand facebook and deleted it months before Google+ came out. It looks t=like there is a lot of potential for Google+ and I wouldn’t be too surprised if eventually, probably in a long time, most people replaced facebook with it. Google+ gives you the ability to be way more organized with your social networking needs. Its hard to compare the two right now because most people only have 5-10 friends on Google+ compared to 300-400 friends on Facebook, but after time I think Google+ users will increase and a more accurate comparison can be made. I have high hopes for it though

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  9. Gunarts Jul 29, 10:21 am

    Please, somebody send me invitation to Google+?
    gtisons”at”gmail.com
    Thank you

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  10. BingoPics.com Jul 29, 1:26 pm

    Twitter + Videos + Images + Chat = Google +

    Gooogle is not Facebook in anyway. I believe that G+ will be more better place for tech pros, whereas Facebook has alot of fun for common people. Thats all.

    As long as Google+ is not having apps, games and flexibility for developers that Facebook gives, Facebook shouldn’t be worried about it :)

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  11. Google Social Jul 29, 3:22 pm

    It’s still early. I say Google+ will be the cool, new place to go, leaving Facebook behind. With all the privacy issues at Facebook, I wouldn’t be surprised if people do start to leave and join the new social network in town.

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  12. pawel Jul 29, 6:42 pm

    Facebook is not so popular in Europe and there is a nice Integration of G+ on Android Phones. I’m not shure, that Facebook shouldn’t be worried.

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  13. Angie Bowen Jul 31, 5:24 am

    While Google+ and Facebook are very similar, I prefer Google+ for it’s clean, simple interface. Facebook has become so cluttered, finding anything becomes a chore. I was also happy with the fact that Google+ didn’t have games but it seems that’s about to change. In the end Google+ could end up just as cluttered and unusable as Facebook if they aren’t careful. Leaving it clean and easy to use would be their best bet.

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  14. Filipe Jul 31, 7:23 am

    Well, the first thing is to break the myth: “people won’t migrate to G+ because they already spent too many time building their Facebook profiles and relationships”. Untill las August, Orkut had 52Millions (Facebook had 6 million) of users in Brazil, after the release of “The social network” movie Orkut died end everybody created a Facebook profile.

    Second, Facebook didn’t match G+ with integration with Skype: GoogleChat already had the one-one Video/voice chat since 2008. Now with Hangouts you can video chat with up till 9 other people. That you can’t do on Facebook or even Skype (if you don’t have apremium account).

    But still, I do agree that Google has a lot to do to make G+ to chatch up and damage Facebook

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  15. PythonFan Jul 31, 9:18 am

    “Where Myspace failed was in their lack of a definite marketing strategy. Sure, at first it was a way to connect to friends, and then all I saw was a music promotion website that was all the while becoming unusable due to outrageous load times from dancing and glittering backgrounds, instant-starting videos and audio files, and endless spam posts about checking out a new artist or porn website. Facebook stepped in and defined itself as an easy, clean way to socialize online.”

    Ah, but that last line is key. I wouldn’t dare to assume the lion’s share of Facebookers right now are necessarily packing their virtual bags for G+ just yet, but I know plenty who already have. The reason? Google+ stepped in and defined itself as an easy, clean way to socialize online. Not in the same context Facebook did vs. MySpace, but in terms of common sense, logic, and ease of understanding how to do the basic things you *want* to do vs. the confusing clutter you have to deal with when Facebook is involved. Someone else mentioned Facebook already has the same things G+ has to some degree, but it doesn’t implement them remotely as easily and simple right out of the gate as G+ does, and to the average user who isn’t a tech-savvy ‘power user’, those things aren’t even consciously recognized with Facebook.

    Another thing to consider is something I’ve heard many people say: G+, if nothing else, offers them a chance to start with a ‘clean slate’. Facebook doesn’t (on the surface) differentiate between people in terms of ‘friends’ but rather lumps everyone into the same equal Borg Hive Mind pool of equality, and over time have gotten many people linked into their collective that in truth they really don’t share that much of a connection with. G+ allows them to start fresh, sort people right out of the gate into a much more organized fashion, and only communicate and pay attention to the feeds of those they want at any given time. And when they start sharing their newfound joy with their friends, over time, well….

    What Facebook did to MySpace didn’t happen overnight…and once upon a time, most people’s friends were on MySpace too, but that didn’t stop a transition to Facebook over time. And neither will G+ in turn do the same thing to Facebook overnight certainly, if it does indeed do so in the end. Now, I certainly wouldn’t lay real money down betting Facebook ever becomes ‘yesterdays news’ to the degree MySpace has. But over time…don’t be surprised if the day indeed does come when Facebook is a mere shadow of itself compared to present day status and G+ has become the more mainstream social network after a long, long slow trickle of people getting fed up with Facebook and/or following that same slow trickle of friends who disappear from the one and migrate to the other. There are many constants when it comes to humanity, and one of them involves ever dreaming of greener pastures.

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  16. cofixy Sep 7, 2:21 am

    I think where google+ falls short is with social media marketing. It’s easier to share links to your blogs and websites with facebook, while google+ has yet to provide that simple API integration and wordpress plugins to site owners.

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  17. Mex Oct 4, 5:34 pm

    Currently FB has far more members, but most (if not all), dislike how FB works, with its constant changes, its hidden, multiple settings, doing something in one place having a different result to doing the same thing elsewhere (sometimes hitting return will give you a new line, sometimes it posts your message depending on where you are for example). People *LOVE* the G+ design/settings, where most people tolerate the FB version. I can’t wait to dump my FB profile. And all this is before Google Docs, etc has been integrated to G+

    All the panic announcements from FB is too little, too late.

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  18. Meghan Sanders Jan 20, 7:37 pm

    I got this link via twitter, and to be honest, I was expecting something that was a little more current. So to revisit the issue 6 months later. We are now looking at a Google+ with 90Million users, with growth predictions that it could reach over 300million by the end of this year. (source: https://plus.google.com/117388252776312694644/posts/dseXgdVPsVR)

    I think it’s poised to do a few things. One, I see Google+ taking over as a blogging platform for casual bloggers. Could people do this on facebook by making a public post and having people subscribe to them? probably. But, I don’t think many of them will. Facebook has positioned it’self as a place for people to share on a shallow level. “I just got this game, so far it’s rocks” versus an in-depth review of the strength and weaknesses of the game. People don’t think of facebook as a place to write lengthy posts. In the past, they have had truncation and limits that subtly discouraged it, and now, even permitting it, it feels awkwardly like you are not conforming to the expected behavior.

    Same with subscriptions. It’s strange to “stalk” someone you don’t know on facebook. That’s a frowned upon behavior. On twitter, it’s more acceptable… but people post only 140 chars on twitter; hardly complete sentences, let alone detailed thoughts! On google+ you have a place where you are encouraged to follow people you find interesting, even if you don’t know them. In fact, as of this moment, I have 549 followers on Google+ (versus around 125 on FB and only 80-ish on twitter) and those numbers don’t include all those people who knew me in grade school and sent a FB request because “it’s what you do”. And I talk about all sorts of things with those people that I don’t talk about with my friends on FB, because they don’t always care… or people on twitter because they are too complex for 140 chars.

    They have added video recording, and youtube sharing, as well as in-browser photo-editing since this article as well.

    All in all, I think Google+ is going to do well, even if Facebook does have some of the same key features, because facebook has failed abysmally to sell them to their users. As you said, no one uses lists. They are clunky, hard to work with. Facebook is clunky, confusing and to be frank, from a usability standpoint, their website is subpar. It’s not intuitive. It’s not clear where things are. They don’t follow a number of basic conventions pertaining to managing an account on a website. To put it in perspective, I specifically don’t enjoy editing my profile or list settings on facebook. It’s a chore. Until they get it to the point where I can do these things without being irritated, then, in my opinion, they have a major usability design flaw.

    Myspace had glitter backgrounds, obnoxious auto-play music and no marketing direction. They basically always said yes to the consumer, and that was a mistake in this case because the consumer didn’t always know best. Facebook has marketing direction, sure, but they are focused more on marketing Facebook in a way that gets people to enter a lot of information they can profit off of with marketers than they are in marketing Facebook as something that is a joy to use for the consumer. It’s somewhat of the same problem. They aren’t saying “yes” to everything the consumer asks, instead they are saying “I’m not listening”, which ultimately is equally dangerous. Unless the consumer’s experience becomes their top priority, they are going to eventually disenchant more and more users. Google on the other hand may very well be using the data for marketing… but it doesn’t show. The things they have been introducing are enjoyable, captivating, and fun. (take the special Halloween photo editing they rolled out, for example) If google keeps their focus on the user, while not giving in to everything they are asked for (which they already have shown they can manage with other products) I think that Facebook, and especially twitter, should be worried.

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  19. Shira Jan 26, 9:44 pm

    Well i remember when gmail was coming out. it was pretty slow the new gmail accounts, by email only. It took ages for people to migrate from msn and yahoo… and now who uses those? most of my facebook friends have gmail accounts… i can see it happening eventually… but google+ is going to have to offer something better than all the social media’s all together. Something I’d like to see as a musician is the combination of facebook and myspace together. they should have pages that cater to all types of people – musicians included.

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