Brands who sell and market to consumers, have had to really make the effort with Facebook pages and these have fast become a very high traffic source for many sites. The easy ability to comment and like something from a brand has not only brought people closer to a brand but also given a brand more of a personality. It has also dramatically boosted the viral abilities of brands’ marketing. In Fact, Facebook has basically become Digital Word of Mouth, more than any other online place.
On a side note – it is important to realise that while we use the phrase Social Media as a media, it is more of a genre of mediums. Where Email is a medium, Twitter is a medium but also a brand. I’m not sure where Facebook falls. It is a brand but is it a medium? Anyway…
You can’t write it off. However, as far as the early adopting users of Google Plus are concerned, it does appear to be more business like that Facebook. So Google Plus Pages could end up more B2B than B2C.
In my opinion, Google Plus has failed to capture the consumer market dominated by Facebook. They may have a lot of numbers, but that does not mean they are getting the use!
The early adopters of Google Plus were Twitter users, basically having more characters to play with. Most people said it was Facebook for businesses, comfortably replacing Linkedin – which has turned into a CV Jobsite disguised as a business social community.
Early adopters of Facebook, were people who were, of course very web-savvy, but it was social and not business, unlike Google Plus. This could have easily been because there was not Twitter back then. We’d seen the slow death of MySpace and the Struggle of Bebo as the two loudest social sites before that, which ended up being dominated more by media and music than social communication, which has been nicely dominated by Facebook since and the rest appears to have followed – but not taken Facebook over.
Because Google tried to draw everything together so closely (search, email, rss, photos, videos, now social), it’s very open and it is a struggle control your online identity through Google. Yahoo tried this before and no-one really noticed.
Where as Facebook is more of a contained online world.
This could be because Google has fast become “the Internet” because it is where you start - you “Google it”!
In fact more people just type the words, close to the place they want to go, into the address bar and then let Google give them the right link – it’s quicker, means less typing and because once you’ve hit go, it’s all mouse-work after that.
To think about the appeal of Google for Facebook users, you can compare and Android Phone to an iPhone. You can see that while Google may have some of the most talented software engineers programming for the general public, they still have not captured that wow factor in usability and look & feel in their products.
I’m a practical guy, Google’s products are perfect for me but for so many people, they have to work too hard to get what they want out of it – normally they want no-nonsense. I’m still finding new things my GalaxyS2 can do – it’s amazing but I do have to faff about with it, which is sometimes part of the appeal. I have had to re-Rom it 3 times in order to make the battery last more than half a day – but is probably the abysmal attempt at software from Samsung – they’re great at hardware – not too special at software, it often feels like more of an afterthought most of the time.
To summerise, I believe that Facebook will remain, for a long time. Its self contained feel and the fact it is less nonsense than a lot of what Google produces, will keep it as the number one social site – for social. This will keep the consumer brands there.
Linkedin will vanish further into the genre of an online CV where you market your self as a potential emplyee, rather than make money from a brand.
Twitter will remain because its character count per post suits the attention span and makes it very to distribute and share online content, with the addition that it doubles up as a public Instant Messenger.
Google Plus looks to take the B2B version of Facebook that Linkedin thought they had but there will still be a fair amount of social and consumer activity going on, in the right markets – ie: more digital and technical than not as users.
We may see over the next two years that Facebook and Google Plus supply brands with a very different customer base. While many people will be on both, they will be in different modes on each, where Facebook is more about friends and family, Google Plus would be more about socialising with people in the same work and industry, rather than family.
I personally believe the current G+ interface restricts the opportunities to make new ‘connetions’ due to the over powering interface providing too much content and currently it is of both social and business content, which makes it hard to find relevance.
If Google created the option of a twitter type feed of your G+ stream and circles, it could be easier to decide when to engage with a post. right now I have to read too much in order to decide if I care, so I don’t make the time (not unlike emails from Amazon). They already have Buzz, just recommission it as a twitter type feed from Google Plus containing the subject and link back to the G+ post, and allow the subject and link pack to the G+ post to be tweeted, thus sending traffic back to Google plus from Twitter in an automated fashion, easy!
On a similar note, historically whenever a new network or technology has appeared, they have been filled by squatters who take a brand name for themselves in the hope that they brand will buy it off them.
I believe Fox did a nice pay out on a domain in 2000, Coke gave the originators of the Coke Facebook page jobs when Coke took the page off them and there was also the sad but slightly amusing story of the UK’s Ian Tunes.
Well apparently Google does not intend to let this happen on Google+, this blog from MikkieTech explains more…read on