Google+ Makes Social Media Waves
It seems like everyone has at least one social media account these days. Your parents have Facebook accounts. Your ten-year-old nephew uses Twitter. Social media networking has even begun to replace weekly phone calls to Grandma. Social media has also become an extremely effective channel for marketing. So which social networking sites offer the most to their users? Current numbers put Facebook in first place, with nearly half of social media users preferring it over other sites, but Google+ has zoomed to the number two spot. Many have asked whether Facebook should be worried about the rise in popularity of a fairly new platform. With Google+ tips being shared more frequently everywhere, social butterflies are more likely to flitter over and check out its features to see what it has to offer. But will it ever surpass Facebook as Internet users’ favorite social networking site? For starters, let’s take a look at some differences and similarities in a few of Google+ and Facebook’s features.
Setup and Accessibility
If you have a Google account, you can set up a Google+ profile very easily. In fact, if you have more than one Google email address, you can set up a Google+ account for each of them. While you might have the option of creating different Facebook accounts through various email addresses, it’s a little bit more difficult when you have to sign in to individual email accounts to find activation links, notifications, and messages. All in all, it’s honestly not that much of an inconvenience, but the fact that Google makes setting up profiles so easy and integrates them with other Google services is a check in the “pro” column for sure.
Integration of Services
Speaking of integration, have you ever noticed that Google+ is already built into the navigation bar in all other Google services? The share button located at the top of each page allows Google+ users to post statuses or share information anytime they are logged in to a Google account. Notifications also show up in the navigation bar to inform users of new activity in their Google+ accounts. Facebook users must sign in to their Facebook or email accounts to share posts or find out whether they have notifications. Again, not a huge inconvenience, but it is one reason busy people might be more attracted to Google+ than Facebook.
To share on Facebook, you basically need to be logged in to the website itself and actively using it. To keep your Google+ account seem active, however, there’s not even a need to access your profile and post status updates and photos. Users can log in to websites using their Google+ accounts, and they can share whatever pages or content they want by simply clicking the +1 button. There is also a big different where pages are concerned. On Facebook, people have to “like” your page for you to share content with them. On Google+, pages can do pretty much anything a single person can do. They can add people to their circles, share, tag, and create Hangouts. This feature should definitely be more attractive to brands that rely on social networking as part of their marketing strategies.
One area where Google+ beats Facebook, hands down, is in chat features. While Facebook might have a basic chat feature, Google+ makes group chats extremely easy with Hangouts. Group chats can be text-based or used with video with features similar to Skype and can be used on most devices, including computers, iPhones, Android phones, iPads, and other tablets. Live video chats can accommodate up to ten people at once. Hangouts can even be initiated on your computer by dialing a phone number or choosing from a list of contacts. Once a Hangout is initiated, more people can be added to make it into a conference call, and video chat can be enabled as well. You can even activate a Hangout from right inside Gmail.
As far as content sharing goes, Google+ is more customizable than Facebook. Facebook gives its users the opportunity to choose who can see posts: friends, public, the user only, or a customized list of specific people. Since Google+ users have different circles as opposed to one big group of followers or friends, they are able to choose whether they would like to share content with. Default circles include Family, Acquaintances, and Friends, but other custom groups may be created as well, such as Co-Workers. Being able to choose which groups to share specific content with makes it less likely that certain people or groups will be able to see information or photos you’d rather they didn’t see.
All in all, Google+ has some features that perform far better than Facebook’s and are easier to use as well. The interface is somewhat less complicated, and the fact that it is integrated with other Google services is great. Facebook probably doesn’t need to worry too much for the time being, though. Google+ is still relatively new as far as social networking goes, and most people are not willing to give up their Facebook time. However, in the two years since its inception, Google+ has overtaken LinkedIn and Twitter in number of users. It has also become extremely popular in the marketing world. Facebook will need to stay on its toes in the years to come as Google thinks of new ways to innovate social networking as they have done with many other aspects of technology.
photo credit: Missud via photopin cc