Recently Google launched its new social network, Google+, in hopes of delivering a huge blow to the Facebook empire. My first thought was this: I don’t want to invest the time in diving into Google+ when Facebook suits my online social needs perfectly well. My plan was to wait until I witnessed a large amount of my friends migrating over to Google+. Within a few days, I was noticing many of them were far too curious and invites were flooding my Gmail. So what else could I do but check it out myself. Here’s a little info on the features of both:
The feeds in Facebook and Google+ are very similar in that they both allow users to post text, links, photos, and videos. Facebook’s feed has “Top News” as well as the “Most Recent” posts which are visible to whoever your “friends” are. Google+ has a “Circles” friend organizational tool where posts can be shared with as few or as many people as you like. However, its criticism is that it is much like a populated Twitter feed.
Google+ works different than Facebook in “Friending”. Adding contact in Facebook is a two-way street where users must accept you as friends in order for you to connect. Google+ allows any users to follow you while you can follow anybody as well without having to accept friend requests. This is a huge difference between the two making Google+ more like Twitter than Facebook. The “Circles” feature in Google+ allows users to put all of their contacts into groups and if desired, be able to communicate with particular groups without all of their friends seeing a particular post. That’s a very handy tool.
Google+ users can also create profiles using any name they’d like, far different from Facebook’s real-name only policy. This could potentially make it difficult to find people you’re looking for.
Notifications in Facebook and Google+ are pretty identical. Both tell you when someone comments on your post, tags you in a photo, or wants to be your friend. The only difference is that Google+ shows all notifications beneath the same tab where Facebook has a tab for messages, friend requests, and other activity.
The buttons for Facebook and Google+ are very similar where users can click the buttons to show approval of particular content. Facebook however, also has sharing capabilities where a user’s “Likes” show up in their feed. Google+ doesn’t do this.
Facebook has turned into the largest photo sharing site on the web making it simple to upload, share, and tag photos. The Google+ functionality is very nice as well and differs from Facebook because users can edit their photos easily. Editing features including rotate, crop, adding colors, and effects. The editing can be done in the photo album itself by clicking an “Actions” tab. Also, in Google+, comments appear to the right of the photos rather than the bottom like Facebook so you don’t have to keep scrolling up and down.
Video functionality is something that Google+ could offer that Facebook couldn’t. That is until Facebook announced last Wednesday their merger with Skype. A very good move by Facebook to quickly answer to the only clear cut advantage that Google+ would have. With that said, Google+ does have the edge in video. Facebook’s Skye video doesn’t have group-chat functionality where Google+ features “Hangouts” where you can video chat up to 10 people at once.
So what is the future of the two social networks? It’s hard to foresee Google+ taking over in the short term as a lot of Facebook users, including myself, have invested a lot of time in building networks, pages, photo albums, etc. In the long term it will be interesting to see if Google+ will turn into the new hip place to be on the web and if Facebook will fade away like Myspace. My guess is no but a lot can change in a couple of years.