By Stephen Liu, EO Los Angeles member and CEO/Chief Social Capitalist of Privy, Inc.
With the recent launch of Google+ (G+), there seems to be a lot of conversations about the following:
- “What does Mark Zuckerburg (or Facebook) think?”
- “Is Google+ better than Facebook?”
- “Should you now sell your Facebook shares at $100M?”
These are probably the wrong questions to ask. G+ is not a “Facebook killer.” While I acknowledge that Google certainly sees Facebook as one of its top opponents, I would submit that G+ Circles and +1 is more of a flank attack on Facebook’s “unsorted” social graph and “like” system that will be played out over the next several years. Facebook still has an almost unassailable position in two areas: photos and games. Furthermore, Facebook has grown and thrived outside the purview of Google’s search.
Facebook status updates, activities, likes — these can’t and don’t need to be read and indexed by Google. In short, with 72 percent of the US population signed up, Facebook ain’t going away anytime soon, and at the very least, will be used to tag photos of your friends, lurk on other people’s profiles, and play games. (It’s worth noting, though, that Google has invested in Zynga, which could be interesting for the G+ platform down the road.)
The real battle is between G+ and Twitter.
The similarities between G+ and Twitter are undeniable. Both provide a venue for real-time posts, which are open and indexable to the World Wide Web (as opposed to Facebook, which has a closed system). Both are social and are made for potentially viral conversations. Both involve asymmetric relationships, which allow power users to quickly and easily gain a mass following. In fact, if you look at some the design choices Google has made, G+ is actually a “full frontal” assault on Twitter.
Here are 5 reasons why G+ will win over Twitter:
- G plus Gmail equals One Hundred Million Users. Idealab CEO Bill Gross predicts that Google+ will go from 0 to 100,000,000 users faster than any other service in history. The killer social graph has always been your e-mail list. With 200 million Gmail users, G+ hitting those numbers is a very real possibility. As G+ builds up even more momentum and the digerati start having close to the same amount of followers on Twitter as G+, I think you’ll see a major shift to G+.
- G+ is Google’s “Real-time” Search Engine. Techcrunch’s Arrington has long argued that the main value of Twitter is its real-time search engine of posts. If Twitter is about broadcasting to large audience, there is no audience larger than the gazillions of people searching on Google. As G+ acquires critical mass, expect Google to create a Google News-type, real-time aggregation of G+ posts. If you saw how Google insidiously inserted Google Places into search results above Yelp, Expedia, and Trip Advisor listings (while scraping their reviews), I could imagine Google beginning to priority index G+ posts, or perhaps adding a real-time G+ news box next to a Google results page. G+ could very well be Google’s real-time search engine.
- Twitter’s 140-Character Limit is Passé. Twitter’s 140-character limit was cute for awhile, but it is limiting to those that want to express themselves (more). That is what gave rise to Tumblr (which G+ will also destroy). With G+, I can freely share my thoughts, photos, and videos within posts; I don’t have to direct my followers to links. Longer posts + rich media in the stream = more comments + more followers.
- G+ is more personal. G+ is inherently more “social” than my barren Twitter profile (notwithstanding the friendly bird logo). With an elegant and comfortable design and user interface, the G+ user profile feels more personal. Users like to lurk on other people’s profiles, so my bet is that ultimately people will be drawn to this. I never could figure out why Twitter’s profiles were so sparse. And the option to create varying levels of privacy for different circles of friends is a huge step up from Twitter’s tweet-protection option. G+’s circles mirror real-life social interactions and allow users to be more personal about what they share, as well as more selective about who they share it with.
- Hangout & Google Takeover. Hangout is held to be a game-changer by many a tech pundit. I can easily see tweens using this feature for hours on end, or business owners using it to conduct their next business conference call. However, the real strength of G+ over Twitter is actually “Google.” As Google further integrates Android, Chrome, Calendar, Picasa, Talk, Youtube and some yet-unknown disruptive service into G+, it will be only a matter of time before it is game over for Twitter. Convenience and accessibility always win.
Of course Google is not infallible, especially when it comes to social. We only have to look at Orkut and Buzz to witness that. But G+ seems to have the pieces in place to make a serious run. And with Google Founder Larry Page back at the helm, we’re inclined to believe that the third time’s a charm. On another note, is it just coincidence that the last remaining Twitter founder left the company the same day Google+ was launched? Just sayin’…
This article was originally published in the Social Capitalist Blog.