Google Plus: A worthy foe for Facebook, or another mere foil?

Late last week, I finally snagged an invitation to try Google Plus, the web search engine giant’s latest attempt to expand its brand into other aspects of the web. Notifications that people have “added” me to their various “circles” have started coming in. And when I haven’t been working late (I didn’t get home until 10 p.m. four straight nights), I have been trying out the latest Social Media tool to become all the rage.

The question is, is this just another Web 2.0 fad? Or is Facebook, the Social Media behemoth, finally getting a worthy foe to compete against?

One advantage Google Plus has is its method of arranging friends. When you add a friend, you immediately are prompted to indicate which “circle” you want to put him/her in. You can put friends in multiple circles, and you can use these circles to communicate and share content with only specific groups of friends. This process is far more cumbersome on Facebook.

Another advantage to Google Plus are “hangouts.” If you have a webcam and the necessary computer software (and can afford the several hundred dollars required for both), you can start and conduct online videochats with people in your circles. You need the right hardware and software for this, but if you have it, you can do something with Google Plus that you can’t do with Facebook.

Google Plus is also integrated with Google’s other web-based products, including the ubiquitous GMail. When you’re in any Google product, a task bar appears at the top of your screen that both allows you to post updates and receive notifications.

But will this be enough to topple Facebook from its pedestal? Google is a very well-known brand, but so is Facebook. And you don’t have over 500 million users worldwide, as Facebook has, if you don’t have a damn good product. Google’s previous attempts at competing with Facebook (namely Google Buzz) haven’t succeeded. And the other social networking sites that have taken off since Facebook are more focused on sharing specific kinds of content (such as Tout), as opposed to an all-encompasing Social Networking platform like Facebook has become. Do Facebook users really need or want another such platform? If not, will they like Google Plus enough to switch over?

We’ll see what happens. It might not be such a bad thing for Facebook to get legit competition, because competition forces you to improve your product offering. But Google Plus has a long ways to go before it can think about beating Facebook.

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2 Responses to Google Plus: A worthy foe for Facebook, or another mere foil?

  1. Krista says:

    Wow, I applaud you for taking the time despite a tiresome work schedule (I know how it is in pharma comms leading up to an FDA meeting) to try out the latest social networking site. I’ve been reading most of the Google+ reviews but still don’t know if I’d feel compelled to make the jump from Facebook. However, I also think, like you do, that the competition between the two services is a good thing. At this point, it’s kind of a wait and see situation to see who strikes back with what next….

    • Joshua Brett says:

      Thanks. I don’t feel compelled to jump either. I like Facebook just fine. I think Google Plus has some good features (as I described in the post), but I’m not nearly crazy enough about it to go all-in on it, and I have no need for a second Social Networking account of that type.

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