Do we really need another social network? After all, Facebook does everything we want, right? Or everything it tells us we want. And when we need a quicker, savvier alternative, we turn to Twitter, right? But competition can be a good thing. It raises the bar. It takes us out of our comfort zone and it challenges us. So Google came out with their newest product, Google+. And I know what you’re thinking, “another Google product”. But wait! This time, people are starting to take notice. Has a social media war begun? I can almost hear Michael Buffer announce as the gloves come off and Google+ and Facebook battle each other in the social media ring. “LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!”
In the left corner we have Google+. Google has almost 50 products under their belt, but this is by far the biggest thing they have done and ties all their products up in a nice neat usable package. It has created such a buzz that Google+ in its trial phase reached 10 million users in just over 2 weeks! But do we really need another social network? I won’t go into gross details about all the technical aspects of the two products. But here is an overview of how Google+ is different.
The first difference is with your friends or people on Google+. With G+, relationships are not reciprocal, which means that I can follow you without you following me, as opposed to Facebook where friendships need to be requested and accepted. Once you search for people, you can sort them into “circles”. Users can share their posts with certain circles of people and/or individual people, and you can view the comments of your circles by selecting that particular group’s Stream of posts.
“Hangouts” allow groups of up to 10 people have a video chat. Comparing this to Facebook in which you can only chat with each one another by text with unless you are using an added Skype application. “Sparks” lets users search for a particular topic, save the search and then review streams of posts based on this topic. Posts can be from people that the user follows or other articles found within a Google search. +1 has become the equivalent of the ‘Like’ button. The beauty of the +1 is that it will eventually help SEO by giving more weight to posts with more +1s.
Google+ is currently only set up for individual people and not businesses. My biggest takeaway so far is that G+ is more about quality than quantity. There is no prize for having the most people in your circles. No one knows how many people you have or how many circles you have. So for the past 2 months it as still in the trial period and each person was given 150 invitations. I was a hog about my invitations and I think I only shared 3. I didn’t want all my high school friends on Facebook cluttering up my clean and pretty Google+.
In this corner heavyweight champion Facebook with their 750 million users has evolved and transformed their site to make themselves better, even though users didn’t know they wanted it. Every time Facebook makes changes, the reaction is “where is a ‘dislike’ button so I can express how much I hate these changes”? If it weren’t for change, we would all still be using MySpace. Remember them? But this time Facebook has listened to their users and this week unveiled three new features that I think I’ve seen before. But where?
The first is an improved Friends Lists. You can finally sort your friends into groups and share different messages with different lists. Don’t want your co-workers to know you’re at the beach? Haven’t told mom and dad about your new boyfriend? Create and separate your friends into Lists and set whether these lists see have Public or Restricted access to your information. Sound familiar?
The Subscribe Button allows you to customize how much and the type of content you are now receiving in your newsfeed. I have a pretty decent number of friends, and want to stay in touch with all of them…most of the time. But I don’t want to unfriend them simply because I’m not interested in their farm games or their coupon programs. I like to actually go to their walls to read what is going on in their lives and not have my news feed cluttered with this minutiae. The other beautiful thing about the ‘Subscribe’ button is that it lets you hear from people even if you’re not already friends, depending on their security settings. ‘Subscribe’ is found in the top right corner of your friend’s profile and by selecting this, their status updates will appear in your news feed. Where have I heard this before?
This brings me to the new layout of the News Feed. Facebook’s layout of the news feed page includes 3 new areas. The first being the top center which includes Top Stories of What Matters Most from your friends. Beneath which you will find “more stories”. And the top right is a scrolling ticker of status updates in real-time. Sounds a little like Twitter, huh?
Some other new features are enhanced photo layouts, improved sharing and tagging of photos and posts, and improved mobile and gaming features. But Facebook isn’t quite done yet. Since Google+ has laid down the gauntlet, Facebook has eluded to many more changes to come in the coming weeks.
All of these changes may have your head spinning and both sites may have changed already by the time I have finished this blog.
First round goes to….Social Media User