Thursday, September 15, 2011

Facebook Is Circling The Wagons

It's no secret I am a Google fan. No surprise, Google is my default search engine and Google maps has long replaced Mapquest on my desktop. Google is what I prefer as my personal mail and calendar system, and I use all of the productivity (documents, spreadsheets, presentation) tools, blogger and Google voice. I'm an early adopter of Google Plus and carry an Android phone. I will use their new flight planning service, too.

But I regularly use Facebook, Foursquare, Tripit, Yelp, Tweetdeck, and Groupon. I maintain two active Twitter accounts and frequently explore other social networks. I use Microsoft cloud based tools for business and have worked with IBM in the development of LotusLive, their cloud based offering.

I understand the cloud and social networks.

So I find the heated competition between Facebook and Google Plus interesting and somewhat amusing. The proponents of each would have you believe their system is the best and will crush and eradicate the other. Nothing could be further from the truth. These two behemoths and all of the cloud based services have unique qualities that appeal to their respective constituents. People gravitate towards them because each of them provides a simple means to achieve some goal and people understand how they work.

In recent months, the Z Team at Facebook have introduced a number of "enhancements" which are designed to improve the service. Mail was added and a partnership with Skype allowed for the introduction of video chats. Smart friend lists now let you group your friends into categories and will add new ways of filtering the news stream. This week we saw the introduction of subscriptions which essentially turns your "wall" into a public fan page. These moves are clearly reactions to the success and growth of Google Plus and Twitter.

Why mess with recipe? Facebook appeals to people who want to share their everyday life experiences with a set of clearly identified friends. The ease and simplicity of doing this is what made Facebook what it is today. Introducing new complex features may appeal to a few but is much more likely to be ignored or potentially irritate current subscribers. As a result of these changes, Facebook might actually lose more people than it will gain.

The Z-Team should forget about copying Google Plus features and concentrate on adding more simple capabilities to socialize. Help students and parents organize back to school activities or provide vacation planning tools. Integration with the real world such as the kiosks at a hotel that allow you to post your activities while at the pool increase both the opportunity and desire to use this network.

I have no demographics or statistical trends to support it but my prediction is the younger high school and college crowd will continue to dominate the Facebook airwaves with highly social interactions. The over 50 crowd is likely to stay where they are as well. They typically have a low propensity for switching.

When Google Plus is finally open to the public it will attract the 20+ working professional and, while it will certainly include a social component, professional and commercial interactions will dominate. The integration with all of the other Google tools will attract and retain these people.

So stop debating who is king of the hill and instead, focus on determining who you are and what you want to accomplish. It will be obvious which of these services will suit you best. If you can't figure it out, write me or give me a call and I'll be happy to help you out.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC