Who Will Stay and Who Will Go?

By Guest Author

Larry Page recently announced that Google+ has reached 10 million users. With the buzz around Google’s entry into social media there has been much speculation on whether they can steal Facebook’s crown. On one hand we have Google, a massive company with lots of resources and years of experience. On the other we have Facebook, who have a massive head start. They have a huge lead in the amount of users (750 million on Google’s 10 million) and they have years more experience in running a successful social network.

People moved from Myspace so it could happen again

I’m sure you have seen this argument on the Internet over the last year or so. It’s the counter argument to the fact that Facebook has reached the point that they have so many users it’s impossible for anyone to catch them. I think both of these arguments are a little off the mark, both tend to suggest there’s only room for one social network. I would say there’s room for more than one. I think people will move, but not in the same way they migrated from Myspace.

Facebook has reached a critical mass, which includes users who weren’t just slow to get into social networking, they were slow to get onto the internet. There’s people who are only just signing up to Facebook, after many years of massive popularity. For people like this, moving to a new platform will not be something that interests them. They’re familiar with Facebook and Facebook is where their friends are. The fact that these users will stay is a reason for people who get a Google+ account to stay on Facebook. This will lead to people having both a Facebook and Google+ account.

When people moved from MySpace

MySpace didn’t have 750 million users who moved. There was a lot less people who moved from MySpace to Facebook. Also, the people who used MySpace were relatively early adopters to social networking anyway. They were mainly young, tech savvy users. Facebook offered a better user experience so gradually people stopped using MySpace for Facebook.

These are the sort of people who will open Google+ accounts. Out of curiosity or to be part of the next big thing. They won’t be closing their Facebook accounts however, they’ll be using both.

Google will also get users out of people who aren’t interested in social networking. All the services which people use on Google will be integrated into Google+ meaning people who are already using these services will fall into the networking side of things.

Of course Google+ will offer a strong marketing platform, so brands and marketers will be there to create content to attract users. Zynga is also in partnership with Google, so the games which have attracted people to spend much of their time on Facebook will also be on Google. Although of course, they will still be on Facebook.

Does Google even want everyone to move?

I doubt Google realistically thinks that everyone will move from Facebook to Google+, at least in the short term. Is this even their aim?

Google is after social data so they can improve the quality of their search results. Even if Facebook was willing to share their data with Google it’s not as valuable as having their own data. As we have seen, their contract expired with Twitter, so their realtime search results product was disbanded. This loss hasn’t affected many but it’s an example of what could happen when relying on another company’s data. I would say that Google aims to move into the Social space so they can have their own social data and to challenge Facebook’s near complete control.

At the moment Facebook seems to have a good relationship with Microsoft, they’re sharing their social metrics with Bing and not with Google. If Google had social data of their own they wouldn’t need to worry about what data Bing is getting from Facebook. This means they can compete with Bing in search and Facebook in social. It has been speculated for a while now that Facebook will move into search, so a preemptive move like this from Google keeps them ahead of the game. Google will probably not overtake Facebook in size any time soon. They will however, stop Facebook from having as much control as they do now.

Both the aim of Facebook and Google is to get as many visitor’s to their sites and keep them there as long as possible. So for Google to ignore something which a lot of internet users are spending most of their time on would be crazy.

More Facebook competition?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple got involved with social networking. People are already using their iOS devices to create and share content over Facebook and Twitter. Apple obviously already know this and will see that they might as well be sharing it over an Apple owned network.

They already have tried to get into social networking with the unsuccessful Ping.fm, this shows that they’re at least interested. With the upcoming iCloud we will see files automatically uploaded to the cloud. All they’d have to do was make it an option to share the files publicly. Attach a profile to AppleIDs which all their customers have and you would have a social network for people to use over iOS. They’ve also got FaceTime and they’re soon to release a BBM like messenger for iOS. So they’ve already got the audience, the interest to build one and the infrastructure, it just needs to be integrated together.

No strong competition

The reason Facebook has managed to get its user base is because of the lack of strong enough competition. There has been competition but Facebook was able to innovate and leave these other services behind. Now, with Google+ (and possibly Apple?) the future of social networking will become more fragmented. There will be people who will be on everything that’s out, and some people will move. This could be out of brand loyalty, or features offered on one rather than the other. Then there are the people who will stay on Facebook because that’s where they already are and that’s where their friends are.

With a competitor like Google they certainly have a lot to think about, but I can see both of these networks being successful at the same time. If Google+ ever manages to trump Facebook it’s not going to be an overnight feat.

About the Author: Tom writes at Marketer Info, a blog specialising in marketing online.

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13 Responses to “Who Will Stay and Who Will Go?”

  • kalyan

    Superb write-up. Just awesome Tom. Kudos for such a post. Yes, I strongly believe FB is not gonna vanish at all. You are right, people will be on both the networks but they are not gonna leave FB just because Google came into foray as they were waiting for Google to come in social networking.

    True that Google has a brand name in searches, videos, blogger and other products but they also got stuck with their Orkut and Wave. So, even Google knows that FB cannot be pipped by but what may happen is that time spent on FB may reduce as people will be interested into checking both and they will divide their time spending on both.

    But, I guess Apple and FB should better not come into Search Engines as noway they can compete with the giant G. Even Microsoft and old Yahoo is struggling. People won’t just use them at all.

    But, really a good writing Tom. Keep writing.

  • Exabytes

    Yes , everyone thought too fast that Google + will overtake Facebook market but yet not so early.
    Facebook are not stupid yet while still growing. If apple came in with social media . I believe Facebook will be troublesome.
    We can find out that Apple actually to change the market behaviour with their own product. No doubt that it will they will over take the market in future

  • Tom

    True MySpace is dead. Facebook I think will be around for some time. Not sure how Google+ will take away many users from Facebook. This will be interesting to watch.

  • Tim

    I don’t think Google plus has much of a chance in the Social networking arena. I have no doubt that within a year Google + will be all but non existent.

    I think Facebook is going to start running into problems over the next year as well. Zuckerburg is known for trampling on his users privacy and I have a feeling this year is going to be pivotal for Facebook.

  • ES

    I think the personal networking crowd will stay with FB. The professional networking crowd will move on to Goolge+ . G+ is a great platform for following people for professional reasons.

  • Umesh

    I am afraid Google+ will be another Orkut.

  • Kurt

    “It has been speculated for a while now that Facebook will move into search” -> And yea I was thinking about this. If you consider the fact that there are 750 million users of FB and if Facebook embed their own proprietary search bar within the Facebook page, they can get a good lead with their search tool promotion and when this same search engine is popular enough, it’s just about waiting for the “followups” to join the user base.

    Well it is not so easy as I am describing it since many people are die-hard googlers and people are indeed resistant to changes. But I’ll really like if we could break this search monopoly.

  • Gresham Harkless

    I see Google + as more of a professional alternative than a social networking tool like Facebook. It would be a great brand building platform for marketers and it could end up competing more with LinkedIn than Facebook. We posed a question on our blog and you can check out what people said:

    http://hearpreneur.com/ask/sales-marketing/google-1-business/

  • Paul Odtaa

    Interesting article Tom

    It’s going to be difficult shifting the 16-30 generation as they are the key FB users. Their contacts and more important their photos are in the system. There is little reason for them to move.

    However, never under-rate Google. They’ll possibly offer a better services, particularly linking with Android based phones, tablets etc. If say you take a photo on your phone and it’s automatically loaded onto a Google + gallery and Google + has a range of simple to use image editing tools then people will be tempted.

    Combine this with an easy use move your contacts and images to Google+ then Google could take over the entire market.

    But

    I’d never under-estimate FB – they’re smart and they innovate. I’ve heard rumours that FB are planning to implement a FB rival to Gmail and offering FB as a link to the net. If they then integrate their service with an improved Bing – then why leave FB.

    The other problem is that Google is now becoming too powerful. I know quite a few people in the UK who are now concerned on the market domination of Google and are concerned how it uses information.

    Apple is already losing the race. Android phones are beating iPhones hands down and I suspect that Apple will end up a minority player.

    So what happens next? I don’t know – but the competition will mean better and better phones and rapid development of extra services on social media.

  • Ton’s

    Interesting review Dan, but I’m not sure if google_ can beat facebook . But if google + offers an extraordinary thing that is not owned facebook, Zucherberg must be careful and ready to accept defeat..

  • Shyam @ScorpionGod Lair

    Marvelous post dude. I like this. I like to know about these things. The big competition among Google and Facebook.

  • Marine

    I think Facebook is now well-established but once Google + gets more known it may as well change. The owner of Facebook did his name a lot of damage selling personal data of users. Greed never pays off…

  • Ron’s SEO Copywriting Blog

    Google has to create something really attractive (read ‘innovative’) to get ahead of Facebook. Facebook is indeed TOO BIG!

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