It has only been a week that Google has announced the Google+ project on its own blog, but the announcement has dominated discussions in the media ever since: Google+ is supposed to be the stopping machine of Facebook’s one-man show in the social media world. Even though Google+ can be accessed on invitation only at the moment, the discussions surrounding it are led very fierce and opinions about it are quite divided. While German newspaper Wirtschaftswoche titled “Google’s new service lacks the big plus“, magazine tn3 listed “10 reasons why Google+ will win against Facebook“.
Without doubt, Google+ is the long-awaited attack on Facebook’s dominance. Larry Page himself, one of the founders of Google, led the project. Usability and design are much more elegant than its blue-colored counterpart. However, the biggest advantage is, that users can administer their privacy settings much more intuitive and with greater freedom as compared to Facebook, thereby making it easier to determine what content is shared with whom. Of course, Facebook offers this service via its lists function, too. Google+’ concept Circles though makes it so much easier: Every new contact can be assigned to user-defined social circles in just one click. A message will not be shared before the user has explicitly chosen its recipients.
Google’s wall is coined Stream. This is where users can see what their contacts are posting. Sparks is a service for posting certain topics. This is where users will post their different interests. It is likely that it is here, that advertisements will be placed in the future. Hangouts is a video chat function, which enables up to ten users to talk at a time. The alternative to Facebook’s “Like” button has recently been added as Google “+1″. And this is how Google’s “Facebook” works:
In May this year, Google became the first company that set a new record in the number of users, with 1 billion users. However, until recently it had completely missed the train of social media. According to ComScore (via faz.net) Google’s pages have increased their reach by 8%. The biggest growth however, was the one of Facebook. Facebook’s dominance can also be clearly determined by looking at the average time spent on the respective competitor’s pages. Time spent is one of the key criteria for graphics-based advertisements. Google already owns a vast amount of user data, however it is anonymous data. Facebook collects user data as well, but it knows much more about each user, his interests, his social contacts and activities. Google+ wants to change that and make the social web more “searchable and monetizable”. From a marketing perspective, this holds a lot of potential, because the first contact with a brand can be traced up to the purchase of a product of this very brand at a later point of time. This is a milestone for social ROI.
But the Internet is developing rapidly and Facebook already retaliates. Rumors are spreading since Zuckerberg announced “something big” for tomorrow. The industry’s insiders at Techcrunch suspect that Facebook will introduce a video chat function as well. One thing is for sure: None of the contenders will throw in the towel without a fight. It remains to be seen if a large amount of users will migrate to Google+. They need good reasons for such a step. The next weeks will show if there is reason enough.
Conclusion: Nobody can predict the outcome of the fight for the “social graph” at the moment. Whether Google+ can successfully conquer Facebook’s market shares or whether the inertia of the sheer number of users prevents a fundamental change remains to be seen. One thing is for sure though: With the introduction of Google+, the duel of the Internet giants Facebook and Google has reached a crucial point. It will be exciting to observe the coming events unfold.