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google+: possible ‘facebook killer’?

July 9, 2011

Almost everyone I know talking about Google+ seems pretty psyched about it and its potential to revolutionize social media. For example, check out this discussion between Trademark CEO Dwight Zahringer and my friend, Brian, about Google+ being a possible “Facebook killer.”

Personally, I’m a bit skeptical as to whether it’ll be as revolution social media-wise as they’re predicting. That said, I agree with Brian that Google+ has a much cleaner look and simpler interface than Facebook, especially when it comes to privacy controls. Combined that with Facebook’s comparatively complicated interface and increasingly more intrusive ads (not to mention their ever-changing privacy policy, etc.), plus Twitter’s problems with spam, I think it has a good chance of replacing both as the default social media network for most people at some point.

The fact that you can actually edit your comments is another bonus. That’s enough to sell me.

In the end, I think it’ll all depend on how Google plays it, especially how well they integrate new features and services (it’s pretty bare bones at the moment) and how quickly they open Google+ to the public. I think there’s enough buzz out there right now to get people to join, and pretty much everyone I know uses Google and has a Gmail account already, so I don’t think it’ll be that hard to get people to eventually switch. The only question is whether they’ll stay.

I think that predominately tech savvy people will find it more appealing at the beginning. But as Brian points out, the Circle feature definitely has a lot of promise; and if Google plays their cards right, I think it’ll be extremely popular with a variety of people since it allows you to have a lot of sub-networks (e.g., family, friends, co-workers, etc.) within your larger network with little-to-no crossover. Even the beta version makes sharing things will certain people, and them alone, much easier than on Facebook or Twitter.

The obvious advantage to this is that it’ll help people consolidate their social networks into one, eliminating the need to have a network dedicated just for work (e.g., LinkedIn), another one just for friends (e.g., Facebook), etc. Google+ puts you more in control of your content by giving you the choice of which Circles you share each post, picture, video, etc. with as you post them, which is something Facebook should have done a long time ago (along with the ability to edit comments). You can limit which groups see certain content on Facebook as well, but it’s nowhere near as intuitive.

At least for moment, it looks as if Facebook is going to have to play catch-up with the beta version of Google+. And I’m guessing that if they don’t come up with something to rival the convenience of Circles before Google+ is open to the public, they may have a serious challenger on their hands.

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