HISTORY | FUTURE

In the last entry, we took a look at the history of Google Plus. Now it's time to try judging what's in store for Google's platform in the future!

Will Google Plus replace Facebook? Is it as simple as Twitter? What does Google+ have that other social media platforms don’t – and vice versa? Is it really that different from the old Google Buzz? Is it important for SEO / search engine optimization?

Which will be the social network of the future?


Google Plus vs. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other social networks

Simplicity of Social Structures (or lack thereof)

What Facebook, Twitter and other successful social services have, that Google Buzz didn't and Google Plus still lacks, is simplicity, of the right kind. Let me explain:
  • On Facebook you have a bunch of users you have connected with at some level, which are referred to as “friends”. And when you post something, those friends of yours are essentially the ones who’ll get to read it, (unless you've been fiddling with the privacy settings that became available some year ago). Simple enough.
  • When you post something on Twitter, a blog, or any content sharing service, like Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon, theoretically everyone will be able to read it. Again, very clear and simple. If you want to keep your updates to yourself, for some reason (beyond me, quite frankly), you usually have the option to protect the account.
Google trying to visualise the
concept of circles.
Crystal clear, isn't it..?
Then we have Google Plus, at the other hand. Here you instead have the concept of “circles”. Anyone or anything you’ll find on the Google Plus network, you can add to a circle. This includes everything from your actual friends, celebrities, to commercial entities and other types of content creators.


Google Plus - Same old 'Buzz' disguised into Facebook?

While Google+ may have some similarities to Facebook in its look and feel, it does not adapt the visibility of your entries to the relation of your acquaintances. No matter if a "page" has circled you, or a person. If your privacy setting is "public", anyone could see your entry regardless. If set to "private", which was the default setting when I started using Google+, then no-one - not even your closest friends, will be able to see what you posted, unless you mentioned them in your entry.

As there’s no clear distinction between “being friends with” or “liking” something, as on Facebook, the Google+ service is seemingly a more open, “fluid” community. The vague boundaries might therefore make the impression of a service lacking privacy and deeper relation and unity between its users.


Facebook vs. Google Plus

If you’re using Facebook – and by all means, why wouldn’t you? - You probably have some friends who tend to use it like a diary, practically sharing the insides of their behinds on a daily basis. Obviously under the false pretences that the information they share is forever kept safe amongst their closest friends. I personally don’t see how this segment would ever make the transition to a service like Google+. Not the way it’s now shaped and constructed. If you want to back-talk your boss at work, Google Plus is probably not a good place to do so (not that Facebook ever was either, for that matter). Google Plus does not look and feel like a private community where you have absolute control over your content. Again, neither is Facebook, but it somehow manages to give that impression to some of its users.

I therefore honestly don’t see why Google Plus would ever replace or “destroy” Facebook. Facebook is in its original essence, a quite rigid, closed community for people who know each other in real life. Google Plus is first and foremost a community for sharing content. That’s where its strength lies, not in bonding people on a deeper, more personal (or perhaps intimate, even) level.

Ads and apps

What's positive about Google's social platform is the decision to keep the cleanliness of their search engine  intact also in Google+. No annoying polls, apps and games to be seen so far, unlike Facebook. It's a good sign Google still hasn't succumbed to commercial interests, unlike Facebook and Myspace. Facebook especially, is probably the least safe social network out there, with malicious applications that lures in the background, wanting nothing else than to take over your page, go phishing for your credentials and eventually start charging and billing you, if you're really out of luck.

Blogs and Twitter

Personal bloggers who already share their everyday life experiences online may find the service rather appealing and useful, however. Sort of like an extended version of Twitter, where you can search for and connect with peers sharing common interests. Tumblr already does a similar thing, delivering a blogging platform ideal for social connections. Google+ also gives you the option to start a hangout, and chit-chat as a group.

Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon etc. (content sharing sites)

Given the above distinction to closed communities like Facebook, as well as open structures like Twitter and blogs, let’s now take a broader look at other open social networks. More so than Facebook, services like Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, and in a way; LinkedIn, would all be prime candidates from which ‘Plus’ could seriously steal attention from. The sheer simplicity of a quick click on the ‘Plus’ button is certainly more tempting to most people, than spending the time and effort of posting a Stumble or a Digg, complete with a description and list of relevant keywords. This utter simplicity should, unlike the services just mentioned, make Google Plus appealing an audience broader than just content creators and SEO specialists; namely anyone who has a Google account. And who doesn’t already use Google Mail (Gmail) or any other Google service? Like YouTube. After all, Google is not just a search engine, but really a one-stop-shop when it comes to Internet services.

This huge user base Google has already had the time to gather beforehand, gives them a great advantage and step ahead of their competitors. And that vast segment of users is of course hard to beat by any one-service-only kind of web site.

Android and Chrome integration

Another great advantage Google+ has over its combatants, are of course their smart phone/tablet computer OS Android, as well as their own web browser; Google Chrome. Thus far, Google has been reserved with their promotion of Google+, not pushing it too hard onto their users. But they certainly do have a great opportunity here, integrating their social platform quite extensively into their software, whenever they choose to do so. Especially so, given how lacking the Facebook app for Android already is.


~theJo


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