The ongoing competition between Facebook and Google + began in 2011 when Google launched its social platform, Google plus. The competition between these two social media giants has now reached a pivotal point as each has decided to adopt the characteristic features of the other; Facebook has announced its new Graph search function, its answer to Google search and Google has launched Google + as an answer to Facebook itself. However, viewing Google + as ‘an answer to Facebook’ may be a mistake, for Google + is set to be more than a social network. At the inception of Google +, it was designed to weave all of Google’s features together to enable effective social signaling. Google plus is not just another social media platform, it is the underlying foundation for all of Google’s other products. It will stand alone as a social media platform but will also harness the potential of all of Google's online offerings.
For the past decade Google has embraced the internet as a platform for knowledge exchange and has established itself as an essential tool for all users. As creators of Google search, YouTube, Android and now Google +, Google has a level of domination over users built upon a decade of trust. This is something Facebook will have a hard time competing with. Facebook’s introduction of Graph search is a radical step towards changing the face of search, in contrast however, the introduction of Google + does not seem radical but rather necessary. Both Facebook and Google have a similar goal at the heart of their strategies; to align offline with online. Google + prides itself on being a better reflection of social integration in the real world than Facebook. With the introduction of circles, the user can better imitate offline interaction, online. Google recognizes that in real-life people are naturally selective with the content they share with others and circles facilitates the users natural social filter. Facebook on the other hand, is looking to challenge Google with the semantic nature of graph search. Allowing users to search in a multi-dimensional way for things that relate in some way to their offline interactions is a brilliant concept but isn't Google already doing this?
You may not be able to search semantically on Google- yet, however do you really need to, when Google is both an offline and online reality. Google products’ domination over Facebook, has ensured they have the upper-hand when it comes to deciphering user behavior. Unlike Facebook they haven’t marketed themselves as a one-stop shop. Searching on Google is truer to life than searching on Facebook simply because more people use Google’s products. Graph search requires user interaction for it to work effectively, whereas Google already has the level of interaction it needs. Google's success it inevitable, all it has to do is sit and wait patiently for users to catch on to the benefits.
Google has grown steadily over the past decade and now has the perfect platform upon which to build its social media offering. There is no doubt that Google is built for business. Unlike Facebook it has not attempted to cloak its commercial awarness underneath social gimmicks such as ‘likes’ and ‘friends’. Furthermore, Google is honest about the fact that Google + is more than just a social platform, it is a product designed to harness the potential of all Google’s other ‘products’. Google + has got an excellent chance of overtaking Facebook in the social stakes for the following reasons:
Google + is already doing what graph search hopes to do: Graph search’s USP is its ability to allow the user to search semantically, graph search hopes to combine social integration with search, blurring the divide between online and offline, making the search experience a direct representation of the knowledge users need to know in real-time. However, the reality is that Google already has captured the majority of users and Google already has the reality insight that Facebook is desperately seeking.
Google + is a single sign-on system – Having a single sign on to all of Google’s products is better for Google and better for the user, Google can now monitor user’s actions across all of its channels, providing a true reflection of user intention across a multitude of channels - not just social.
Google + is a data mine – Google’s integrated login system means it is a simple process to monitor user behavior across its dominant online channels.
The future of Facebook ultimately relies on user engagement. Google, on the other hand, already has the user hooked, it already has something to give the user. Facebook on the other hand, does not have the ability to be so generous; it has left its future in the users hands, a big gamble, when your up against a commercial giant that has firm control over its users.