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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Google + vs. Facebook

There has been quite a buzz over the last several weeks about Google’s entry into the social media space. Their new product is dubbed simply as Google +. Pundits all over plus many in private conversations are trying to determine if Google + can do to Facebook what Facebook did to MySpace.

There is no question that Google is a formidable contender. Globally, they have over a billion users compared to 700 million for Facebook. In the U.S., the distance is narrower with Google tipping in at 155 million users and Facebook 140 million. On the revenue side, Google is way ahead with close to $30 billion ($25 billion in ad revenue) while Facebook weighs in at $1.8 billion. Given its smaller base, Facebook is growing much faster than Google.

Views on the competition tend to be polarized. A few digital media specialists have told me that Google will pull the plug on Google + by Christmas. Others say that it will be a battle and Google will eventually come out on top.

Talking to users of Google + is interesting. Most really like it. All refer to the “Google Circle” which allows you to put together groups of friends that you can organize by topic. There is a “drag and drop” feature that makes it easy to manage different groups. So, if you have a wide circle of contacts or varied interests it makes it easier than Facebook to manage different groups. You can also exclude individual people from getting updates, which may give you more privacy or perceived privacy.

Others tell me that they like Google + as it does not accept advertising. I have to smile. You can bet that when Google + hits what they consider to be critical mass that can be packaged as a media vehicle, advertising will appear!

Reading between the lines a bit, Google + appears to be greatly assisted by the parent company’s credibility. The whole Google mantra of “Don’t be evil” resonates with many people. And clearly, Mark Zuckerberg, while admired, has far less credibility than Eric Schmidt and Company. Google knows a lot more about you—Facebook only knows what you tell them. Yet, as we all know, perception carries a big stick.

We will watch Google + carefully and you should too. A friend wrote to me today saying “Facebook. That is so 2009. I am a Google + man these days.” Google hopes that millions join him and fast.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at doncolemedia@gmail.com

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