When I hear people talking about how Google+ is just “Google’s version of Facebook” it angers me.
To say that, is to only understand a fraction of what is going on.
I’m going to tell you what’s really happening, why it’s important, and what this battle is all about.
The battle for our digital existence
Facebook does not care about making the world more “open and connected” anymore than Google believes in not being “evil.” They both repeat their mantras so as to obscure the fact that they do things in direct contradiction.
If Facebook wanted a more open and connected world, it wouldn’t work hard to keep you IN the walled garden of Facebook and it would allow data to be accessed outside of Facebook. Then again, Facebook may be using their own interpretation of “open” and “connected.”
If Google were 100% opposed to evil then it wouldn’t abide by censorship laws in other countries or violate privacy of its users. Then again, “evil” is a relative and subjective term.
If you haven’t stopped to think about how much of our lives are influenced or touched by these two companies, I implore you to stop reading and think about it for a moment.
Google is where we find information, Facebook is where we find our friends…for hours at a time. Both Facebook and Google are where we get news, find out about and RSVP for events, store contact information, store and share photos and in some cases search for information (see Graph Search announcement…more on this later)
You don’t even have to use Facebook or Google to feel the impact. The mere fact that you exist in a world where these two companies provide the majority of news, information and communication channels for well over 50% of our population leads me to believe that you have been affected by these entities. Many people you know are either on Facebook right now or searching the web for something else.
The winner will reap the biggest rewards: control over what we see, hence leverage over advertisers which will lead to record profits. Advertisers want targeted impressions and they are willing to pay serious money for it.
Part of this battle is about deep knowledge of individuals because that knowledge is ad targeting gold. Both Facebook and Google want to map out each and every relationship that you have, understand the depth and breadth of those relationships, log the interactions between those relationships, and look for commonalities and trends. They want to know where you are, where you go, what you eat, who you associate with, what you read and so on…
They each want you to store your entire digital existence with their service. They want to mine that data with complex algorithms that uncover new opportunities for products, and ultimately profit.
Facebook connect is one of Facebook’s most ingenious methods of capturing and holding onto individuals. Using the simple one-click sign up to ensure people become more and more embed in the Facebook way of life with each app they authorize. The switching costs get higher and higher each time that someone clicks the blue button.
But it doesn’t stop there, both Google and Facebook are using the profile as a way of gathering your information. We willingly share details about our lives from where we live, to where we work, to who we love. Take that and add all of our book, music, movie, tv show and sport team preferences…among other things. In the case of Google, we now have an authorship tie-in, cataloging all of the places that we contribute ideas and knowledge.
The ultimate goal of both companies is to know everything they can about us, and to be the central repository of that information.
Both Google and Facebook have plans to capture all of our conversations. The race is on to see who will get more of it.
Facebook has Messages/Messenger and Google has Gmail, Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and Google Voice.
Facebook has Groups and Google+ has Communities.
Facebook has one-to-one video chat, Google has Hangouts and one-to-one video chat.
Facebook has unified the experience, Google is fragmented. Both want it all.
Search and Discovery
And now we come full circle. Google started in search and then got Social. Facebook started in Social and now moves into Search. To say that Google+ is Google’s version of Facebook is like saying that Facebook is trying to be the social version of Google. It’s bigger than that, they both want to own it all, they are just approaching it from the opposite direction from one another.
The fight is on right now to master the art of delivering relevant information and knowledge with the appropriate context and using natural language. The one that can do that best will capture our attention and our searches. And for those that know how critical I am about Facebook, I’ll say this: Graph search is the biggest development in Social Media ever. Yeah, you heard it. This is the move that changes the game. Prior to this, it was not a competition, NOW it is. Facebook has put together a new solution to an old problem in a way that doesn’t directly compete, it takes an entirely new approach.
I’ve only been using Graph Search for half of a day and it can deliver information that Google cannot, and that scares me a little. It’s useful, powerful and creates possibilities we can’t even imagine yet. Facebook’s Graph Search will prove to be one of the most impactful developments in the history of the company.
Timeline is a unique and innovative way to approach a profile. Messenger is a well designed unified messaging experience. Both of those can be mimicked, copied and improved upon.
No other company can replicate what Facebook has done with Graph Search due simply to the amount of information they have about each of us. To compete Google would first have to build a mechanism to capture all of our interests beyond search queries. They’d essentially have to replicate Facebook’s “Like a Page feature”
The battle wages on
Facebook is far less concerned with Google+ than Google is concerned with Graph Search. This battle is far from over and it’s not the small potatoes people make it out to be when they compare the singular feature of social networking. This is a battle for your digital existence.