So the search giant has finally taken Facebook on, well third time lucky I guess. Should Facebook be shaking in its social networking boots? Will Google use its sizeable fist to squish Facebook?
To ‘plus’ it or to ‘like’ it. That is the question.
1. +1 Growth
According to ComScore, Google Plus has reached 25 million in a mere month. This resulted in much shouting from the roof tops that Google Plus is the fastest growing social network EVER.
Mr Lipsman of Wedbush Securities, who spoke at a recent panel discussion, said that other social networks took a lot longer to reach 25 million users;
– 22 months for Myspace
– 37 months for Facebook
– 33 months for Twitter.
Figure 1.1 ‘ Number of months needed to reach 25 million wordlwide unique visitors,’ En BeeOne3 2011
From which it can be assumed that following the initial buzz of MySpace as one of the first social networks, all subsequent social networks have grown exponentially. It would be fair to say that Google Plus’s growth can be attributed to the already well-established social networking platforms, which when combined with Google’s considerable brand pull, may very well have produced the incredible growth numbers we are seeing at the moment.
Is the mammoth growth of Google Plus a sign that it will dominate Facebook’s 750 million active users in the coming months? When delving a little deeper, according to CNet, of the 25 million +1 user’s only 10 million users are actually defined as ‘active.’ The other 15 million we can only assume jumped on board the Google Yacht for a look around the deck.
Figure 1.1 ‘ Google Plus vs. Facebook,’ Social Catalog 2011
2. Has +1 joined too late in the social networking game – will it affect long term success?
Just how many social networks does one actually need? If you have LinkedIn for your professional profile, Facebook for a mixture of good friends and family, Twitter for your public facing thoughts, can you really bear to add a ‘plus’ to your mixed bag of ‘like’ it, ‘share’ it and ‘tweet’ it?
Even if you can’t stomach the idea of another social network, perhaps you will be herded on board the mighty Google Plus vessel simply because all of your friends have migrated.
Just to chuck in my own contemplations as a Gen Y, I know one person on Google Plus. Please take note of the single digit status. Taking a gander at stats from February this year, and taking into account Gen Y is roughly 16-29 years old, the Y’s are chomping a 20% chunk of the Facebook usage cookie, which by anyone’s standards is a large portion.
I do not by any stretch of the imagination profess to personally know all Gen Y’s, so I am not suggesting that as I only have ONE friend on Google Plus that no Gen Y’s use it. However, I still query how successful it will be when Google plus has been rocking for over a month now, and I still only have one friend that uses it? (Please note I have more than one friend this is not my entire friendship circle!)
3. What is the difference between the two big hitters?
According to Zuni’s very own Managing Director Mike Zeederberg, “One interesting theory about Google+ is that they HAVE to do something, because increasingly lots of content is being shared on Facebook which is a space Google’s search engine can’t get to. So it’s starting to miss out on being able to index and provide access to large chunks of the web due to Facebook’s protected space.”
If this is indeed the case then Google Plus has a long way to go in order to break down the 750 million user deep wall that encircles Facebook country.
According to an article recently published on Mashable there are four major reasons why Facebook should consider anything with “Google” and “Plus” in it fighting words.
1. Better search opportunities
2. More customisation
3. Better analytics
4. Google can learn from Facebook’s mistakes
If the big Plus really will open all of these four doors, perhaps it really is in with a chance to secure the number one social networking spot.
It is common knowledge that Google is the most popular search engine, thus by plugging its social networking platform into the already existing browser pages, and allowing alerts etc. to notify users as they browse Google Plus, it could really take on Facebook for most time spent on site.
4. Sparks vs. topic groupings
One of Google’s unique features is called ‘sparks’ which essentially just looks for videos, articles and content it thinks you will like so you can watch and share at your own pace. Facebook has fought back against this functionality with its own version called ’topic groups’, which acts in a very similar way by lumping together similar themed news stories. The concepts have merit but the reality of their success is yet to be realised. I myself have not noticed groupings kick in on my own Facebook as yet, so it will be interesting to see whether or not that muddles up my news stories stream.
5. Slicing and dicing your social network.
The real difference between the two social networks is that Google Plus allows users to easily cut up their groups at will (keyword being easily as Facebook has functionality already albeit a very clunky version) ; using the functionality ‘circles’ you can create any kind of group you like which is great for people who have a network of people from all walks of life. Which is brilliant, but brilliant for whom? Will the teeny boppers who really only use social media for their school friends with a definite ban on family, actually be interested? Will the university student really be keen to get involved when they only have uni friends, old school friends and a few ‘cool’ family members? Perhaps the 20 year long, working professional with two families in opposite sides of the world, work colleagues from their past 5 jobs and a bunch of friends from holidays across the globe may find the slicing and dicing of their groups useful.
Will we see a big divide between young and old? With Gen Z and Gen Y’s sticking with Facebook and Twitter, and the generations with more life experience under their belt drifting to the Plus domain? This remains to be seen. Does Mr Zuckerberg have a war on his hands? The even bigger question… will he win?
Are you on Google Plus? Who do you think will be crowned the social network king?