Google+ vs. Facebook

I know I am coming late to the party regarding Google+, but I’ve been trying to get an invitation to no avail.

So, I will have to write this post blind. The big question is “Will Google+ be the Facebook-killer?” Many have speculated, endorsing “yes” or “no” opinions and providing some well-reasoned arguments.

For me, the answer is “We’ll see.” Experts and specialists are not mystics or seers. The community at large will determine how well Google+ does.

But, some things I have been thinking about:

The invite-only beta isn’t going well

Seeing the negative reaction to its invite-only Beta, Google+’s first big hurdle will be attracting people to its service who have felt burned for being left out in the first place. A post on Google+ by Paul Allen estimates 10 million users, but after almost a week of waiting for an invitation, I’m not one of them. If I have to wait too long, the excitement and curiosity will pass and I’ll stick with Facebook.

Is the “Circles” Concept enough?

Google Circles Video

A lot has been made about the privacy feature, allowing users to create circles of friends and only sharing certain updates with them. This idea is not new. Ottawa-based Ramius did this with their Sixent social networking site.  Thought it has been around for a few years, it has not achieved much success. (Granted, it does not have the backing of Google.)

Still, this feature might be enough to draw people to Google+.

Will people leave Facebook for Google+, or set up yet another profile?

But, many argue, will people abandon years spent on Facebook for a new site just because of the Circles issue? Perhaps. Facebook wiped out MySpace because Facebook provided a cleaner interface and better tools for communicating with people in a way we want to communicate. If Google can provide an even better interface and more intuitive tools, it might have a shot.

Even if it is not a Facebook-killer, it could still be a competitor. I maintain profiles on Goodreads and LinkedIn for much the same purpose as Facebook: networking. I just use them to different ends. The same might be true for Google+.

The trouble for Facebook is if they see their ad revenue drop as Google is able to fine-tune its AdWords program with data gathered from Google+.

Single login

Consider: A lot of people already have Google accounts through signing up for YouTube, GMail or Google Docs. So, you are not signing up for yet another site, but another service that Google offers.

If Google+ can make sharing from its tools—YouTube, Google Docs, Picasa, GMail, Blogger, Google Reader—easy and seemless, it will have one up on Facebook. While Facebook sharing buttons are everywhere, mentally it just might seem easier to share from one Google tool to another. Not to mention the ease of sharing things that might have limited access, like Google Docs or YouTube videos set to private. This cannot be as easily done over Facebook.

This is especially true since you only need to log into one Google service to be logged into them all, rather than logging into both Google and Facebook. If anyone has ever shared a computer, you know that sometimes the other users doesn’t always log out, leaving you accidentally posting to their Facebook / Twitter. With Google+, you just log into Google to start sharing.

Don’t forget Android

Another wildcard is Google has its own mobile OS, which Facebook does not. Very soon you will be able to shoot a video, geo-tag it and say “Share video with family” into your phone. Google+ will then make your video and where it was shot available to everyone in your “family” circle. Yes, Facebook could also build this app, but Google always has all of the pieces in place.

Facebook will adapt

Despite these advantages, Facebook will now doubt adapt. Mark  Zuckerberg has shown himself willing to launch new ideas, test the waters, and adapt. Perpetual Beta is the mindset of Facebook. Though Google is certainly flexible in changing and improving its products, it spends a lot more time in development before launching. This difference in mindset could allow Zuckerberg & Co. to develop their own Circles variant and beat Google to the punch with a series of quick tweaks and overhauls.

So… what?

In the end, these discussions are fascinating, especially what one even might tip the balance? Could a celebrity cancel their Facebook page and set up on Google+ exclusively? Might movie tie-in find Google+ a better platform, setting the model for future movie promotions? Or will Google+ fizzle and die in the coming months.

Stayed tuned.

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