Google is making waves with its closed beta release of Google+, the company’s new social networking initiative that may soon challenge Facebook as the coolest kid on the Internet block. Well, next to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is already the most followed Google+ user.
The truth is, with the launch of Google+, Facebook risks losing all of its cool factor.
Google+ is following in Facebook’s footsteps, making its initial release available to a small audience in a closed beta. Facebook was at first open only to college students (Major cool factor).
Google+ is using an invitation system (Equally cool). Those who were selected to join Google+ were able to invite other users to the network. These invite-only users are like VIP guests to Google’s party.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s busy hanging out with your mom and dad (Not so cool).
Google+ includes a feature called Circles, which allows users to easily categorize their friends in, well, social circles and then choose to share relevant information only to that particular group. Say, if you don’t want to share late-night status updates with your parents.
Google+ Circles is kind of like Facebook’s Groups feature. Only more user-friendly. And with Circles.
“We tried to build a system that you could use for the relationships over time. Circles are organized around the set of relationships that you in fact have in life,” said former Google CEO and current Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in a talk at the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Something to think about: how will the 18-24 demo, Facebook’s biggest user base, view Goolge+? (And even 25-34. Users under 35 make up more than 62 percent of Facebook users, according to iStrategy Labs.)
Very likely, they’ll view Google+ as a cool new hangout where they can connect with friends, chat, share photos and status updates without mom.
On the other end of the spectrum is the 55+ user, the segment that has experienced the largest percentage of growth among Facebook users (subtract cool).
As Facebook becomes a place for everyone, it loses its cool. If everyone’s doing it, it’s not cool; it’s just there.
The 18-24 demo is also a majority of the Early Adopters and Early Majority in the technology adoption curve.
The left half of the technology curve (Innovators, Early Adopters and Early Majority) is really what drives changes and trends in technology. Those users will determine the success of Goolge+.
Google v. Facebook
The real question is how will Google+ differentiate itself from Facebook. And will that be enough to compete against Zuck’s social networking behemoth?
I feel that product competition is not only compelling but completely necessary to any industry. Competition keeps companies on their game, forces them to improve and perfect their products and services.
That’s the kind of healthy competition that Facebook and Google can really use to their advantage. And that’s where MySpace faltered. MySpace — which at one time had a larger user base than Facebook is now shedding users and staff by the minute — was lethargic and ignorant to change and innovation.
MySpace was recently sold to Specific Media and entertainment artist Justin Timberlake [who in January was named Marketer of the Decade by yours truly].
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is a social networking god, portrayed in books and a Hollywood blockbuster film. I doubt he’ll let the same thing happen to The Facebook (His character in The Social Network was relentless).
Unlike MySpace, Facebook will embrace the competition and use it as a spark to enhance its network and offer more to its users.
If Google+ does put a dent in Facebook’s user base, it won’t be the death of it; MySpace is still around for Zuck’s sake.
Source: TechCrunch, Tech Crunch TVFast Company, Mashable, Techmeme, CNet, ReadWriteWeb, GigaOm, Engadget, CNN Money, MacWorld, AdAge, All Things Digital, The Next Web, iStrategy Labs, funnypictures.co.uk, The Technology Adoption Curve was developed by Joe Bohlen, George Beal and Everett Rogers at Iowa State University in the 1950s. Graphic from Wikipedia.