Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Battle of the Titans

So here we are about one month into Google Plus and the ranks have swelled to over 20 million participants with an expectation of more growth when its opened to the general public (rumored to be soon) and still more when the business community is invited to participate.

Polls abound declaring fifty percent defection rates from Facebook (click here) and the demise of other inferior social networks. Google Plus threads and other sources are full of prognosticators convinced Google Plus will take over the world. According to one story today, Google Plus is even going to be your bank (click here).

Of course, other statistics clearly indicate Twitter has more star power (click here) and Facebook is now bigger than ever (click here) while Google Plus alienated people by shutting them down, requiring use of true identities. Google forced some news services and on-line publications to contribute under an individual name. Surely these acts will cause a backlash and slow or stop its growth. Right?

Wrong.

I predict Google Plus will continue to grow and evolve into the kind of social network that will appeal to a more professional community, while Facebook will continue to be the social network of choice for younger people, and people looking for entertainment, fun and games.

Google Plus will eventually be woven into the whole family of Google applications. The integration has already begun. Like one popular video illustrates, Google is where many people search, e-mail, write, store documents and photos and perform many other tasks. Once integrated, Google Plus will appeal to this segment of the population.

Facebook offers a different experience. It is not about the service, it is the social connections, the electronic relationships that you establish and maintain with your friends and acquaintances. It has clearly reached sufficient mass to continue to attract young social network newbies. It will appeal to high school and college students (its origin) because their friends will probably be on it already.

Similarly, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks will continue to appeal to certain segments. Twitter works well for publishers and news services, while LinkedIn has become the service of choice for human resource professionals.

I see the social network landscape unfolding much like cable television. There are a few dominant cable channels like HBO, Showtime and Cinemax. Then there are dozens of others such as the Food network, Bravo and Comedy Central that sustain their business on a smaller community of interested viewers. Yelp, Groupon, FourSquare, Tripit and many others (some not yet invented) will continue to provide a vast array of networks meeting our special needs and providing enough value to survive. There are 18 social networks devoted to new startup companies (click here) !!!

By the way, last week I predicted that tools would emerge to allow Google Plus participants to post to Twitter and Facebook. Since many, like myself, will likely have a presence in several of these networks for the foreseeable future, I expect over time to see a high level of integration. Extensions for the Chrome browser (click here) began to appear last week. Today I learned about Start Google Plus, a tool designed to more fully integrate content from these other networks.

In a couple of months, I would like to examine the demographics of Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus participants. I suspect over time  these statistics will bear me out. What do you think?

Captain Joe


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