Tag: Google Plus

Facebook vs Google Plus: Writing Off Google+ Could Be A Big Mistake

November 6, 20116 Comments

Many commentators have enjoyed describing the arrival of Google Plus as a Facebook vs Google Plus battle. Reports in recent weeks suggest that Google Plus numbers are stagnating and that users are now drifting back to Facebook. This has led some commentators to pronounce that Facebook has won the battle, but is this actually the case? An alternative view that’s starting to gain ground argues that writing off Google+ could be a big mistake and that Google’s strategy with Google Plus has been misread. Far from competing with Facebook over user numbers, Google may in fact be pursuing a completely different approach but one designed to ensure their ultimate hegemony. For Google numbers of users could be less important than attracting the lion’s share of online advertising and overall user activity, and that Google holds the aces needed to achieve this. One of the more informative posts taking this view was posted on VentureBeat.com by Jolie O’Dell.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Internet’s frothy enthusiasm over Google+ has dried into proclamations of its imminent death.

Social media experts and bloggers who were one month ago hailing the fledgling service as the second coming of Christ are now calling it a graveyard and a ghost town.

But from where Google executive Bradley Horowitz sits, in an office on the Google campus in Mountain View, the vista isn’t nearly so dire.

“I don’t blame the pundits,” he says, “they’re not privy to our long-term strategies.”

The comment may seem snide or passive-aggressive; it’s also true to some extent. To understand Google’s plans for Plus, Horowitz says, you need to listen less and watch more.

“Six months from now, it will become increasingly apparent what we’re doing with Google+,” he says with a measure of opacity. “It will be revealed less in what we say and more in the product launches we reveal week by week.”

Over the past couple of weeks, we have, in fact, been seeing Google+’s social features creep into other Google web products, including Reader and Blogger.

We were clued into the real scope of Google’s plans by Louis Gray, a relatively new employee of the company who is a product marketing manager for Google+. A few weeks ago, Gray gave us a glimpse at the long view: Plus isn’t a social network; it’s Google’s new way of getting you to use all its web products.

Now, Horowitz confirms that conception. As I explain to him the vision that Gray explained earlier to me, he says, “Directionally, the world you’re describing is the world we aspire to. And it will be much better than the current state for our users.”

What is Google+?
Too many pundits and tech bloggers have made the mistake of thinking of Google+ as a Facebook competitor, but it’s absolutely not — at least not as far as Google is concerned.

Of course, Google is still in the business of competing with Facebook for ad dollars. That boils down to compiling the best, most actionable data about consumers to sell to advertisers.

And if Plus catches on, Google stands a much better chance of accomplishing that goal, not by orchestrating a Great Migration of users from one social network to another, but by subtly linking all your Google-powered online activity and profiles so advertisers can see a more complete picture of you than Facebook could ever offer.

But that’s just the follow-the-money part of the story of how Google is banking on staying in the black. As far as what you, the average end user, are expected to do to use Google+, there’s a lot less effort involved than you might think.

After all, Google is a company renowned for the massive collective brainpower of its workforce, and no one in that workforce really expected a billion people, give or take, to switch their online lives and relationships to a new destination.

Rather, Google+ is simply a new way of accessing Google’s web search. And Gmail. And Google Maps.

In other words, Google+ is (or soon will be) part of all of those products, rather than a standalone social network of its own.

“We think of Google+ as a mode of usage of Google,” says Horowitz, “a way of lighting up your Google experience as opposed to a new product. It’s something that takes time to appreciate, even internally. It’s easy to think of Google+ as something other than just Google, and I think it’ll take more launches before the world catches up with this understanding.”

Until the world does catch up, however, Google has to find its own metrics for success. Users are complaining they don’t see enough activity in their circles, that too few people are coming to Plus to hang out and interact.

Then again, if you buy into the idea that Plus isn’t, pardon the pun, a hangout or destination per se, you can accept the idea that Google+ could still be a success without massive amounts of public sharing and user activity. Original article

Could it be then that whilst Facebook may have won a battle, Google Plus will go on to win the war? Whichever view you hold, the longer we as users have a choice the better that must be. Do let us have your point of view.


Google Plus vs Facebook: Has The Battle Been Won?

November 3, 20115 Comments

Google Plus vs Facebook certainly had social media commentators buzzing after the launch of Google Plus in July 2011, but have we arrived at the stage where we can ask “Has The Battle Been Won?” Google Plus launched to a fanfare of high expectations and acclaim but in recent weeks those high expectations have been replaced by prophecies of impending doom. One of the most authoritative articles on this subject has come from the admittedly Facebook centric blog All Facebook. Here is the original article, written by Aidan Hijleh:

Google Plus started out growing faster than any social network has so far, but may not be able to compete against Facebook longer term.
The appeal is not sticking because many of the people that quickly flocked to Google Plus have made their way back to the comfort and familiarity of Facebook.
In fact, the inability to keep users engaged has some observers wondering just how long Google Plus will be able to survive.

A Closer Look At The Battle

Google Plus entered the social game at a time when competition was arguably at its fiercest. Facebook was just reported to have an estimated 750 million active users, while both Twitter and LinkedIn were making notable gains of their own.
In order to garner attention, Google would have to give users a different experience, and different is what it strived to be from the very beginning.
Even in its original beta form, Google Plus was equipped with a new friends system in Circles, a discovery engine in Sparks, and a group video chat tool in Hangouts, which recently made its way to the mobile platform.
Apparently all that wasn’t enough, as Facebook went to work with some countering of its own.
In addition to combating Circles with Smart Lists, and answering Hangouts with a Skype-powered video chat feature, Facebook rolled out some huge updates that once again made it the talk of the town.
The majority of the changes involved making the popular social platform more user-friendly, starting with the news feed.
The news feed has been designed in a manner that presents users with posts that are deemed to be most important to them, opposed to the most recent updates.
According to Facebook Engineering Manager Mark Tonkelowitz, the news feed experience is now like users having their own personal newspaper.
Despite not being embraced by the community as a whole, or at least not at first, the recent changes at Facebook have reclaimed the attention of both the general members and brands who spend their time on the site.
And while Google Plus still has some attributes that enable it to stand out, the lack of activity and return visits is a sign that users are having trouble justifying its worth in comparison to what they already have in Facebook.

Last Chance?

Google Plus is not the search giant’s first attempt at social networking.
If you recall, the company launched Google Buzz in 2010, which fizzled out due to a major privacy flaw that accompanied the initial release and the same issue the company faces today — being useful in what can be considered an overly crowded space.
Google Plus definitely has more potential than Buzz, but should it bomb, it could very well be the last shot at ever touching Facebook in the social realm. Original here

Aidan Hijleh’s post in All Facebook appears to argue that the battle has largely been won. For my part I always thought Facebook was far too entrenched to be overturned as the leading social networking site. Not only does it have 800 million users, it also has a vast array of Apps plus a range of Page options for businesses, charities, groups and other communities. Many of these will have invested a considerable amount of time, energy and money in building their Facebook profile plus a range of networking options there. To expect these people and businesses to walk away from that never seemed to add up to me.

Like some other users, I warmly welcomed having the choice of utilising both Facebook and Google Plus but I suspect I’m in a minority who use both actively. For the typical user there isn’t much appeal in duplicating their commitment across both platforms due to inevitable time constraints. A monopoly is never desirable as the temptation to take users for granted will become overwhelming to that monopoly, so I wish the battle to continue for as long as possible. Unless Facebook starts scoring some spectacular own goals however, I can’t see much of an exodus to Google Plus. Despite complaints over issues like the Facebook News Feed algorithms and it’s tendency to give prominence to trivia over serious stories, only a small minority have so far felt strongly enough to abandon Facebook.

An alternative minority view is that Google never intended Google Plus to be a social networking platform or that it was ever intended to overthrow Facebook by instigating a mass exodus from it. Google simply will continue to integrate all of the Google “ecosystem” into Google Plus, such as Google Reader and Youtube so that ultimately all Google-powered online activity and user profiles become integrated so that Google’s position as the leading online advertising option is secured, a further by-product of that being that Facebook could lose it’s appeal and relevance as it becomes dwarfed by the emerging Google beast.

Don’t hesitate to give us your thoughts via the Comments box and/or through your favourite social networking sites.


The Launch Of Google Plus

August 21, 20110 Comments

The launch of Google Plus has not been without it’s ironies. Whilst the identity of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s account in Google’s social networking site Google+ (Google Plus) remained a mystery until Google launched a verification procedure, this account easily bagged the most number of early followers. As of 21st August, the Mark Zuckerberg account in Google+ stood at over 470,000 followers whilst that of MySpace founder Tom Anderson, despite Anderson being an active poster on Google Plus, stood at a mere 109,000. Zuckerberg has achieved this without posting a single public post on Google Plus, thus possibly marking the final victory of Facebook over Myspace!

More seriously, is Google Plus the real deal after several false starts by Google in it’s efforts to be a major social networking platform?

Prior to the launch of Google Plus, all the momentum seemed to be with Facebook. Facebook effectively launched its own email address option for users with it’s facebook.com address option for messaging and also was expanding it’s quasi search-engine capacity in what was seen as an attempt to push further into Google’s domain. Facebook ads have also become an increasingly popular alternative to Google Ads for online advertisers. Facebook has also announced the launch of a Video Chat feature on its platform with the help of Skype, one of the most popular internet telephony services. According to Facebook’s own stats, it now has over 750 million active users. As is often said, if Facebook was a country it would have the third largest population on the planet.

Under such an onslaught, it would have been naive to expect Google to remain passive. It has certainly hit back hard with Google Plus. At it’s initial launch, which of these major internet platforms had the most sign-ups in the first month?: 1) Google Plus; 2) Myspace; 3) Youtube; 4) Facebook; 5) Ebay; 6) Twitter?

Well, despite being an invitation only platform, Google Plus hit 20 million unique users around the world within it’s first three weeks, according to figures from online measurement company Comscore, making it the comfortable winner and was topping 25 million users by the first week of August. Of course that still leaves Google some way behind its social networking rivals. Twitter has more than 300 million users and Facebook’s 750 million. Even the more exclusive Linkedin reports it now has 120 million members.

Google Plus has easily been Google’s best attempt to establish itself as a major Social Media player with some saying this will be the beginning of the end for Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. But after an explosive start, latest reports suggest a slowing down in the pace of Google Plus’s expansion. The fact that Google Plus’s success continues to be measured against that of Facebook is part of it’s dilemma as it cannot truly be viewed as having succeeded when it is continually being compared to Facebook rather than being viewed as an entity with an identity in it’s own right.

Google Plus has certainly tapped into a strong current of dissatisfaction with Facebook over issues such as privacy, some spammy applications which can bamboozle all but the most informed of it’s users, it’s attitude over allowing users to be randomly added to groups without their consent (groups that can then spam your wall without your knowledge or permission until you block them) and some very intrusive adverts. Time will tell whether this will be looked back on as just a protest vote against Facebook for it to get it’s house in order or whether this will mark a seismic migration from Facebook towards Google Plus.

Critics of Google Plus state it is a rip-off of Facebook, but is that really so? Being a late comer has it’s advantages. Perhaps Google Plus is successfully combining the best features of Facebook and of Twitter. This is most obviously the case with Google Plus’s Circles feature which enables users to choose who they want to connect with (as they can largely do when choosing who to follow on Twitter), rather than waiting to be approved as a friend thus ending the requirement for mutual “friending” for access to profiles and posts. The Circles feature is also easy to use when a user wants to limit a post to a selected group or groups of connections.

A further not inconsequential factor is the effect of a Google Plus presence, allied with the use of the Google Plus +1 share button, on search engine optimization given Google’s power in this sphere. If it’s impact is going to be stronger than that of Facebook then this could give Google Plus an edge over Facebook – websites would be incentivized to integrate +1 buttons more than Like buttons if that provided the bigger boost to search results. Better search opportunities will be at the core of any business’s choice over whether to be more active on Google Plus or Facebook. After all, the most important thing about online marketing is attracting traffic to your site and businesses are said to be eagerly anticipating the next phase of Google Plus’s expansion.

Does this paint a dark picture for Facebook’s future? A small but influential number of internet marketers and analysts have proclaimed this to be the beginning of the end for Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Some have even closed their accounts to move over to Google Plus, but Facebook still has a lot going for it.

Although some Facebook apps are discredited many important ones are not. NetworkedBlogs, for instance, is the cornerstone of any serious Blog’s options for being seen and read beyond it’s immediate circle of subscribers. Additionally, businesses and individuals who have invested so much time and effort building their presence and identity on Facebook such as through the use of Facebook Business Pages are unlikely to just close down and move to Google Plus.

Google Plus may have been able to tap in to a wave of dissatisfaction with Facebook from some of it’s users but any advertiser who has been on the receiving end of Google’s notorious slap will hardly look upon Google as a benign and benevolent operator. Nor has Google Plus appeared to have made much impression upon, far less replaced Facebook, in the consciousness of Facebook’s massive teenage user base.

There will be plenty more to come. It was only a matter of time before Google started to integrate Google Plus with YouTube. A new feature that Google has recently built into YouTube allows instant firing up of an online viewing party between you and your nine closest friends or associates through the Google Plus Hangout feature. That’s all thanks to Google’s integration of Google Plus Hangouts directly into YouTube’s video sharing functionality. Over time, as Google Plus expands, you can be sure that the vast array of Google tools will be increasingly added into the Google Plus platform.

No doubt the battle will be joined as both Google Plus and Facebook seek to improve their users’ experiences with both attempting to learn from and outdo each other. For the time being it is to be welcomed that social media users once again have a serious choice of social media platforms instead of the monopoly which had the field virtually to itself until recently. A foot in both camps remains the best option for the foreseeable future, though in the longer term there will come a point where one of them will have the upper hand.


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