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What the new Facebook taught me about Google Plus

09/26/2011

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Facebook: BFFs :: GooglePlus: ______

Springer Spaniel Puppies.____________cool dog

(answer below)

Google Plus has inspired an astronomical number of tweets, chats, and blog posts since its launch in late June. During this beta phase, it was intentionally free of big brands and BFF images. It took changes at Facebook, however to discover the USP of Google Plus.

Here’s the “big” Google Plus question

Since Google Plus launched on June 28th, beta users (1.7 million)  quickly learned it was about the next level of crowdsourcing,  tribalization, and optimized experience. In short, it boiled down to a simple,

“What makes Google Plus different from Facebook and Twitter?”. Is this another Google Wave, etc.?

Well, in typical open-ended Google fashion, it was left for beta users to decide. The only clue: circles for filtering content and stirring up discussion that was just too interesting for 140 characters. On September 22nd, Google Plus was open to the universe—no invitation required. Just a simple opt-in via a new or exsiting G-mail account.

Enter the Facebook timeline

On September 22nd (yes, the same day), every app developer and tech reporter was at F8 Facebook 2011, where Mark Zuckerberg revealed Facebook’s new visual structure of time-lined stories and six-degree viewing of people and their posts to other people’s posts. Imagine the potential content of 800 million Facebook users in this new media mode. A NYTimes.com article (tiered-subscription) describes it as Facebook’s New Strategy to Turn Eyeballs to Influence, Facebook as Tastemaker

As a Tweeter, blogger, and Google Plus newbie, I did find the new Facebook format annoying. That may be due to the iconic Facebook spin:  disruptive negative press from users and early adopters. I first read some cautionary posts about readjusting settings to avoid privacy blunders and public postings you might not want.

While others attended the F8 conference, I simply logged in and self-observed my experience.  It appeared distracting for personal engagement; specifically more viewing and less chatting. First the change, the experience of resetting (a constant Facebook brand association, I must add) and the stream of information. It felt like an iGoogle and blog page had been mashed up without my approval. It is, apparently, everything Facebook intends; something on the order of be your own social media publisher.

Just what this social media pro needs, uninvited noise. With over 400 million active daily Facebook users, the potential could be daunting for the average viewer with 130 friends. (Isn’t that why people left TV?)

Google Plus circles have their day

So, when I went back to Google Plus the next day, there were many “new” faces adding me to their circles. (There was a 30% increase in new users in two days.) It felt like noise at a big event. I was happy to see my colleagues all appropriately huddled—alums here, media folks there, etc. That’s when the USP of Google Plus really came home.

In other words, Facebook is for your friends (BFFs) while Google Plus has a decidedly business quality (Best Business Buds or B++s). It’s where you can go and chat before or after a great discussion on Twitter. Many are even testing its real-time chat features and building platforms to Wikispace.

So thank you, Facebook, for what you taught me about Google Plus.

What’s your experience of Google Plus versus the “new” Facebook?

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