Google Plus vs. Facebook
You may have recently heard something about Google Plus, the new social networking site. Thousands of hip, social networkers have fled Facebook for Google’s potentially greener pastures.
Should you be one of them? Read this and decide if Google Plus is really better than Facebook.
The History – So Far
On June 28, 2011, Google released their new, much-hyped social network Google Plus (plus.google). G+ was an instant hit in the early adopter community; literally every single tech blogger in the world signed up for a G+ account and then wrote an article about it.
Even though the new social network was invitation only, the number of registered users exploded. See the graph below:
Google Plus had 10 million users after just two weeks; after four weeks, over 25 million users had signed up.
The tech community was giddy over the fact that it had grown faster than any other social network in history. (Never mind the fact the Google was already a billion-dollar company with tremendous brand value and worldwide recognition).
In spite of this exciting news, the question on everyone’s mind was whether or not G+ would be able to take on the social networking behemoth that is Facebook.
Clash of the Titans
With its 750 million users, Facebook still dwarfs Google Plus. Google is attempting to attract new members by introducing a variety of features that seem to address Facebook’s limitations:
On Facebook you have friends and that’s it. Unless you fiddle with complicated settings, you won’t be able to control which friends see what. (Meaning that if you post those pictures from spring break, Grandpa will see them and be disappointed in you.)
Google + is different. You organize your contacts based on circles, or categories, including family, friends and work. Before you post anything, you must decide which circle(s) are allowed to see it. This means more privacy and more control.
Just like Twitter, you don’t have to know a person in order to add them to one of your circles.
G+ has a feature called Hangouts, which allow you to video/instant chat with up to 10 people at a time. In response to this, Facebook implemented their own version of video chat. However, Facebook Chat only supports two-way video calling.
G+ users can find out more about their own interests by using the Sparks function. Sparks is like a front-end Google search that continuously updates links about topic they are interested in, like sports or movies.
The closest feature on Facebook is the ability to “like” an organization; this will make their updates appear in your news feed.
Facebook’s biggest advantage is the sheer number of people who use the service. If you’re looking for someone, chances are they’re on Facebook.
Facebook also has business and organization profiles, which allow users to interact with companies that they like.
Additionally, integrated games are a big draw for the site; over 50% of users play Facebook games. Google Plus does not have any games or organization pages.
Maybe it really doesn’t matter if Google Plus is better than Facebook. Maybe features like Circles and Hangouts aren’t actually the things attracting people to Google. Perhaps the real appeal of G+ is the fact that it offers a fresh start, a tabula rasa.
On Google Plus, we have a change to erase all our social networking mistakes of the past. Gone are the embarrassing pictures and the awkward wall posts. No longer do we have to sift through endless updates about Farmville, listen to our great aunts complain about Obama, or not actually know who half our “friends” are.
We have a chance to build G+ into whatever we want it to be — a utopia of intellectual discourse, civil debates, and funny videos of cats.
Or maybe I’m wrong, and people are just signing up for Google Plus because it’s trendy.