Google+ was recently fully released to the public in an effort to compete with Facebook.
But Google is a Search Engine. Why would they compete with Facebook, a social media website?
Google has grown exponentially in less than 10 years starting as a search engine. They have expanded their business from a search engine into creating a browser, mobile OS, e-mail and more since their start. They provide a lot of free tools to compliment their other products like Google Analytics. This data tracks any user’s interaction with a website. Google is no longer just a search engine, they are in the data business. Google is a billion dollar company that makes a majority of their revenue from AdWords which is an advertising solution for businesses. They have created an advertising platform that has revolutionized the world of marketing and created jobs for marketeers like myself.
Facebook provides more personalized data; an opt-in of who you are and what you like. To tie in that type of information to your search history can provide more information about you, giving context and feedback to their search results for their customers (advertisers). Google released Google Plus in late June for beta testing and grew rapidly.
Although being one of those unique visitors in the beta testing, I saw all of the same posts:
When will everyone make the transition to Google Plus?
Remember Friendster? Not many people do, but it was one of the first popular social networking sites in 2002. MySpace launched shortly after (2004) where it grew more of a following including the users that transitioned from Friendster. A few years later Facebook was launched exclusively to certain universities (2004) and then eventually was rolled out to the public (2006). MySpace users became Facebook users.
In my opinion MySpace users transitioned to Facebook for a couple of reasons but the most important was that MySpace didn’t listen to their customers. They allowed music on user profiles that automatically played, so that anyone browsing had to frantically lower the volume if they were somewhere (like at work) where they didn’t want folks to know what they were viewing. Their advertisements were overbearing and they kept making changes to make the website “better” but in fact were changing the order of how their users interacted and used the social site.
Social Media can be exhausting! It’s inconvenient to check two places so eventually one Social Media site ends up “winning” the market share. Facebook launched a simpler way of sharing with friends and introduced a new way to interact with each other by providing tagging with photos. Facebook did something that noother Social Media sites were able to do. It was able to grow enough that everyone and their
mother grandmother was on Facebook!
Google Plus offers more privacy on what we share (which is ironic since they are in the data business), the appeal to have all of your data in one place and refining search results on social media. Since, Facebook has made some changes to compete like adding social to their partnered search engine, Microsoft’s Bing. Google Plus may have introduced neat new features but overall it didn’t revolutionize anything. Every business needs to innovate and evolve to survive but it has to pay attention to the user/customer. In general, people do not enjoy change. I believe Facebook can keep the market share but they have to be much more careful than Google Plus right now with the features that they release to compete.
As we have learned from the short history of Social Media, that only happens when the previous platform makes the mistake of changing their UX (user experience) without listening to their customers. In general, I Facebook (sorry I had to), but I have been disappointed with Facebook’s customer support and way of receiving feedback. I remember when Facebook had launched a major new change and there were Facebook groups popping up of users saying “bring old Facebook back!”, their help center and help discussions were rarely answered by qualified officials and when I finally found a number for Facebook I was redirected back to the help center. Out of curiosity to prove that, I called that number again today and got an option to connect with customer service. I have to say that I am impressed to see that they are improving in the right direction.
That is my long answer to my few friends (or is it circles?) on Google Plus. The short answer is that people make up Social Networking. If Facebook wants to stay in the game, they have to listen.