By now, we've all heard about Google Plus and most of us have started an account even if just to figure out what it is. Odds are as soon as you heard about it you envisioned a cyber war with Facebook. Odds are you chose a side before you even went to the site; I know I did. However, before we put on the war paint, let me suggest that one will not necessarily negate the other. Google Plus and Facebook are not competing for your affections. (Well, they are a little.) They are competing for ad dollars (and that's why they need your affections). In this post I hope to illuminate the ideas that I think are superior. I'm not making a prediction on who will win, whether or not these ideas will make money or even if these ideas will be implemented well. Good ideas help the world to progress.
I just want the best ideas to win.
Facebook dazzled us all with the fascination of information.
We marveled at the thought of knowing everybody's business like we all lived in Stars Hollow. But, for some, rather than having Lorelai or Rory as neighbors it felt more like they were in a world populated by Gladys Kravitz. For others the opposite problem occurred; they simply didn't want to know everything about everybody. Yet, for others this model was perfect because they had the ability to learn as much or as little about their friends as they wish.
Google Plus has developed a system that is more like our personal social structures.
We, by nature, related differently to different people. Thus, we share things with some that we keep private from others. We mention things to some with which we don't bother others. We socialize not through statements or in pairs, but through conversations and in groups (often spontaneously). Google Pus' Circles and Hangout features pattern the online social experience after the real life social experience. I think this is the better idea.
Targeting the Audience
Facebook really took a gigantic leap forward with their advertisement pairing.
If you want a rifle approach to advertising Facebook provides a wonderful system that matches up ads with the profiles of individuals that will be most likely receive them well. You only want college graduates? No problem. You only want stay at home moms? You got it. You want people who like Transformers the Movie? Go ahead. You want someone interested in chocolate? There you go. Seriously, this was an enormous leap forward.
Google Plus has taken it one step further.
It's not the gigantic leap that Facebook took, but its a step that Facebook can't take. You see, Google Plus pairs ads using all of that information PLUS your searches and your g-mail subject lines. Instead of using only what people claim or don't claim about themselves, they can use what people actually search/see/click while online. For some, this idea is a little too Big Brother, but not me! I think most people are tired of seeing ads that don't interest them. I think most people are turned off when they see ads that offend them. A search engine will always be a better option to a link list because it gives me only what I want. Interest-based advertising is the same way. I think this is the better idea.
The Internet is Out There
Facebook and Google have been competing for a long time now. Instead of searching for products or services with little confidence in the results people have, for quite sometime, asked their online friends for suggestions about products or services. Facebook wisely adjusted its own service to provide better avenues for this kind of behavior.
They created Pages as opposed to Groups so that businesses could create Facebook Landing Pages.
In a sense, the entire internet world can fit inside of their framework! Of course, in addition to problems common to all landing pages, there are even more daunting obstacles for this goal. These, of course, are that your brand becomes compromised, your presence becomes contextualized and your information becomes compartmentalized.
In a way, there is not an idea-comparison here. I can't point to this feature or that feature. However, in a way, this is the most important idea-comparison present. What does Google Plus use to highlight your business? Why, it uses Google, of course! How does Google Plus' feature your business? Well ... it features YOUR website -- not part of it or a condensed version of it -- your actual website!
There is no attempt to make the internet fit into their system. They make their system reach out to the internet at large.
This is how Google became Google in the first place. My Facebook Page will always point to my website because I want my clients to find me. Google already point to my website for the same reason. I think this is the better idea.