Can and will Google+ really beat Facebook?

Everyone is writing about Google+ and its obviously really cool to do that, so what new does actually Google+ bring to the table?

Can and will Google+ really beat Facebook?

Everyone is writing about Google+ and its obviously really cool to do that, but we took a few weeks before we actually decided to write about Google+ and really make a good assessment, and we have some facts and opinions we would like to share:

1) Facebook does have a competitor, even though it might be a full blown copy

We can argue all we want Google+ is a copy, it is a good copy with some good features, but its a well executed copy, with some innovations. Here we can argue that the most basic “average Joe users” (still a lot of the internet users) will not care about circles, and will not care about privacy settings, and will not care about sharing with this or that group, so this might be a complication for them.

My opinion here is, that people will not switch because of features, and it will be really hard to get the majority of people to flip the switch and go to Google+, but it is clear that Google+ will be a network to watch, and if I would forecast, I think they will get to 100 million monthly active users in the next 12 months (not total, they might have more total users by registering people “automatically”).

2) Google+ growing, but Facebook still the clear leader

Facebook is still leading the pack with 700+ million users compared with Google+’s 10 million users (although in a couple weeks). Facebook grew over 20 million users just this month based on our Socialbakers statistics from 700 to 720 million active users.

3) Google has a lot to learn

Launching a product without APIs means is not a good idea, especially because you have an army of companies that really needs to support the ecosystem, and naturally if you don’t support something, you are against it. At Socialbakers, we are not against Google+, we welcome it, but we would REALLY want Google+ to open up their API’s, as preaching about openness and privacy models is cool, but you know whats cooler? An actual API… Please, bring it over.

4) Google’s secret weapons

Google has a couple secret weapons in this fight:

  • Android – although questionable if Google should use this, it can possibly link creating the profile on the phone to creating a Google+ profile. The question is if this is not the Microsoft browser embedding era, and if Google is not abusing its position on the market
  • Search and +1s – if Google uses the argument enough, it could even convince those angry traditional publishers to implement the G+ buttons, because “it will have a magical effect on SEO” – and if they say it, you will do it!
  • Youtube – the biggest community that Google already has, the Youtube community can be used as a perfect base to transfer users into G+. Google, use that, and use that wisely.

5) Facebook’s secret weapons

Facebook has a couple secret weapons in this fight:

  • Time + network + position – time is a huge weapon for Facebook, the advantage they have is huge and the network and “all my friends” are already there. All those tech journalists can argue that my friends are all there, but go ask on the country side, in the long-tail of the population not who joined G+, but who actually knows it exists – I did a quick research: None. This is a huge advantage for Facebook. Although G+ could earn the tech audience over time, Facebook will still maintain the general population for a while to coming
  • Applications + API + completeness – everything on Facebook is already running, the entire eco system of companies supporting it, doing marketing, etc. is there – all the key API’s are there, Facebook has gone through all the hassles in the last 2 years to make it really close to perfect. Google will have to go through this all over again. Now Google has great developers, and has a huge amount of them, but still, they will go through the exact obstacles as Facebook was going through on the way, as you can’t buy time, you have to go through that process.
  • Not being open about exporting contacts – this is a great sword weapon, even though it has two edges. On one side, this is a great deal for Facebook, as the data portability is not there, and they can “keep you there”, but will be a big topic that Google will try to use for people to leave Facebook. Honestly I don’t think Google+ will win the majority by this topic, rather lose some votes in big circles by kicking around, but we will see how they handle the negative PR campaign. :-)
  • Many existing partnerships, infrastructures, games, Zynga gamers, etc.

6) Retention

I am looking forward to see how people will respond to 2 networks (even the techy audience), and who will really stay using Google+, and who will go off Facebook. Retention will be the key, and monitor your own activity – are you really going to run 2 networks, are you really posting on G+? Are your friends really active there?

To sum up, I believe for this year, Google plus does not change anything, so lets all get back to our social media marketing, and let us be monitoring Google+, its growth, and its ramp. For next year, depends on how many secret weapons they use and how fast, this might be a question if users will suddenly switch, or they will find a platform solution that will publish to all networks and manage all networks at the same time.

What do you think?

Jan Rezab

P.S. Add me to Google+ :-) https://plus.google.com/…70513294386/

Staff Writer

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