Posted June 30, 2011 2:28 pm by with 9 comments

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So, last night, I lost about an hour of my life trying to figure out how to use Google+, the search engine’s answer to Facebook.

I’ll admit, it was an exciting hour. It always is when I get my hands on something shiny and new. But, after the initial euphoria of being invited to be one of the lucky early adopters, I closed the Google+ tab in my browser and headed over to Facebook.

Here’s why.

Have you seen the Toyota car ads where they mock other car manufacturers for saying their car is “comparable to a Toyota” or “has the same features as a Toyota?” A few choice soundbites, then it’s suggested that you may as well just buy a Toyota. And that’s the problem Google+ is going to face. If all it aims to be is the search giant’s answer to Facebook, then why shouldn’t I just keep on using Facebook?

My friends are there. My videos are there. My photos are there. My check-ins are there. Why waste the time switching to a service that basically replicates what I already have?

And that’s Google+’s problem, it’s the same. Sure, it has some nice additions; circles, hangouts, sparks. But those are mostly Facebook features with different names and a slightly different implementation. Nothing really groundbreaking.

But Andy! Google ousted AltaVista. Facebook killed MySpace. BluRay is beating DVD. Why can’t Google+ trounce Facebook?

Because it doesn’t change the game. Google+ is an alternative to Facebook, not a revolutionary way of connecting. Google revolutionized search. Facebook did the same for connecting with friends. Google+ is just an alternative to Facebook.

In order for Google+ to be a success, it needs to fill a void that other social networks cannot. Twitter coexists with Facebook because the two offer very different platforms–very different user experiences and audiences. Google+ needs to find a way to be the third spoke in our social wheel. If it can do that, then it has a chance of success.

If, however, it only ever achieves “just like Facebook” status, then I’ll just stick with Facebook.

Note: The tilde ~ symbol represents “equivalent to” in mathematics. As in Google~Facebook. Aren’t I clever? 😛


  • I feel the same way. Even though I’m an online marketer, I’m generally a late adopter when it comes to things like new social networking tools and sites. I probably won’t personally start spending much time experimenting with Google+ until more of my friends and contacts do — in essence, the service needs to prove to me that it’s worth using via social proof (e.g. I need to see the crowd begins to shift organically). That’s not something you can buy with advertising or influence with PR. Google+ needs to have a more compelling reason to exist.

  • Michael

    I have not seen Google+ as yet. I have tried and that is something that I find irritating about Google. It shouldn’t be so hard. I’ve been using gmail since its inception. But that is another story.

    The think that attracted me to wanting to know about Google+ is the ability to alter what is shown depending on who is seeing it. (Or at least that is what I believe it can do). I left Facebook over not being able to do this. To family and friends, I want to be able to post things but I certainly DO NOT want those showing up on my business contact page or my public page. And vice-versa – I don’t necessarily want to post things for business and have it go to my family. If Google+ does this, as I now think it does, then I disagree with this conclusion. Google+ will beat Facebook. However, if this is not correct, then I would agree with the conclusion here.

    Can anyone fill in the blanks for me?

    • You can set up a “circle” for posts that are for business only, and another one for family/friends, then decide which circle a post is shared with. However, there’s no “Pages” set up you can use for your business.

  • Jeff Kryger

    I agree with you 100% Andy. I have so much invested in Facebook, and Facebook is so ingrained with so many other sites now, I think the switching cost is just too high to go to yet another social network

  • Creating circles from scratch is a hassle. Adding people in a stream to a circle is easy, so I liked that.

    But you’re right, I’m starting over. And what would stop Facebook from making a better “group your friends” style feature in about 2 weeks?

    Well written, Andy.

  • Andre Dominicus

    They should have integrate it with Google TV. Watch what your friends are watching.

  • “And that’s Google+’s problem, it’s the same. Sure, it has some nice additions; circles, hangouts, sparks. But those are mostly Facebook features with different names and a slightly different implementation”

    This is kind of a stretch. Both circles and hangouts are vastly superior to anything Facebook has in terms of segmenting your connections. Another article I read mentioned that people tended to overshare on FB (revealing updates/photos to people that you wouldn’t necessarily want them to see) and you tend to undershare on Twitter.

    Circles in particular allows you find a comfortable sweet spot in between those two. And Hangouts is just plain cool. Facebook is well behind the curve on this one.

    None of that means Google will win this war though….

  • Alex P.

    I was just going to post something very similar to what Will Lang just commented, but then came news that Facebook is announcing video chat sponsored with Skype next week. That could solve their Hangouts problem.

  • Bruce

    My solution? Forget both and go outside and see what’s new there instead!

    Obviously there are exemptions to the rule, when your friends/family are remote but how many people spend half their day using these sites to talk to friends in their own area code?

    When will this social media self-glorification obsession end?