Wouldn’t it be nice to go online and access everything you wanted in one central profile? All of your emails, updates from friends, and a powerful search engine – all in one. If you are reading this, I’m sure you know that Google recently took a step in that direction, breaking onto the social networking scene by introducing its newest service, Google+.
Google has managed to gather over 25 million members at an unprecedented rate, far quicker than its rivals Twitter and Facebook did. But is Google+ the primo social networking site? I have been a member of Google+ for about a month now, and after my storied experiences with Google, Facebook and other social networks, I would say no, at least not yet.
I am a big advocate of Gmail, and I believe that Google sets the bar when it comes to search engines, so as much as I want Google+ to succeed, I still maintain that Facebook, with over 750 million members, is the dominant social network. Facebook has become more than just a networking website, it has become digital infrastructure. It is a place where people and businesses need to build profiles in order to exist online. My Facebook statistics are as followed:
– 723 Friends
– 1,368 Photos
– 4 Event Invitations
– And my newsfeed changes minute by minute.
These bodies of content are the reasons why Facebook has such a dominant presence on the internet. People have been adding friends and uploading photo albums for years, customizing their online social persona. My Google+ stats are:
– 49 People in my circles
– 52 People have me in their circles
– 2 photos of me (and one isn’t really of me at all)
– A relatively stale “Stream” (the same thing as a Facebook newsfeed)
This is the mountain that Google needs to climb in order to compete with Facebook. Unless you were aching for a fresh start, who wants to upload 1,000+ pictures and add 700+ friends all over again? Years upon years of building photo albums and contacts would have to be rebooted Google+, and without a competitive advantage, I don’t see much of a reason for people to make the switch. This brings up the question, what are the real differences between Facebook and Google+ anyway?
Google+ tries to differentiate itself from Facebook by allowing users to segment their online “friends” into different “circles.” You can then share certain things with certain circles, rather than your entire friends list. Besides that, the “hangout” feature, which is essentially group video chatting, is the only other useful addition to a strikingly similar layout. Although less often used, Facebook does make it possible to segment friends into groups, allowing you to share certain things with certain people as well. More importantly, it allows you to choose who NOT to share with (you can hide posts from your mom, your professors, or your boss).
So unless Google+ offers some sort of amazingly unique features, it will have to slowly wait until the masses accept the rebuilding process to stake its claim as king of the social networking hill. Until then, I am happy using Gmail for my emails, Twitter for breaking news, and Facebook as… well, Facebook.