Unless you've been living under a rock recently or are so immured in Facebook that any other social media news is automatically blocked for your own protection, you'll have noticed that Google+ is now with us. Google+ is Google's third, and some would argue first serious, foray into the world of social media. Previous attempts with Buzz and Wave faltered and fell into the digital abyss, gone, largely forgotten and almost universally un-lamented.
So is Google+ destined to suffer the same fate? A quick Google will (ironically) fill your screen with comments as to why Plus is doomed, how it’s come too late and how, no matter how good the functionality is, people won't move away from Facebook or want to be bothered with managing another social network. All valid points, but as one who's kicked around cyberspace longer than most I'd caution those who are quick to condemn. Why? Well here's five answers to five popular charges against Google+…
1. It's come too late. Facebook's too well established to be overthrown.
With 750 million users Facebook is a formidable force, but then MySpace at its peak claimed over 200 million and yet the young pretender drove it into the ground in under five years.
2. Facebook's functionality is too good – and it's growing daily
Fair point…but have you seen Google+ functionality? Even at this test stage it’s looking pretty good. Circles is powerful and has serious business implications, Sparks will allow the lazy surfer (i.e. most of us) to have our content delivered to our door, Hangout is a hoot and for those looking for somewhere to work, rest and play Plus is integrated with Google docs, reader etc etc!
3. Too many people have spent too much time setting up Facebook pages to want to start again.
I refer to the answer I gave earlier re-MySpace…and would just add that anyone with a Gmail account (some 200 million people) will find Google+ functionality seeping into their inboxes soon, and importing contacts is a mouse-click away.
4. Anything Google+ does, Facebook will do better
On that we're in complete agreement. But doesn't that work the opposite way around? And haven't Google got something of a reputation for improving existing technologies? Gmail over Hotmail, Chrome over IE, Google over every other search engine?
5. Search is dying – sharing's the future and isn't sharing what Facebook and Twitter are all about?
You think Google don't know that? Why else would they have staked, if not their shirts, then at least their 'Don't be evil' t-shirts on Google+? And who knows what you like and what you're likely to share more than Google?
So, as far as I'm concerned, Facebook's on the way out, Twitter might as well pack up and go home now and the Google juggernaut will continue to sweep all before it, right? Well, I wouldn't go that far. In my opinion Facebook has finally got a much needed rival and Google has got a mountain to conquer. Who'll be the victor in this latest digital spat only time will tell but there will definitely be one winner: you and I!
By Giles Luckett – Senior Digital Strategist at balloon dog