28 September 2011

Facebook or Google+?

Grumbles and rumours seem to be the most common theme on Facebook these days. While I'm not sure what all the fuss is about, I know some people just don't like change.

Fair enough, but remember Facebook is free. It's not like they are changing something you're actually paying for. The money comes from advertisers, gifts and people buying virtual stuff. I may have devoted a certain amount of time to the relationships I maintain through Facebook, but I've not devoted any actual cash.

But I am exploring Google+. Why not, I use Google's search engine, maps, Reader, blogger, Gmail, Scholar, Docs, Calendar . . . . get the picture. I use Google for so many things already, why wouldn't I give Google+ a go?

A nice feature I like about Google+ is that I have different circles of friends, people I know to different degrees, from different seasons or in different ways. To FRIEND everyone in the same way is not really natural. A boss is different from an old or future boyfriend. My mom's old friends are different from co-workers or my nephews. Facebook only gives me one level of FRIEND. Google+ allows me to create circles and then choose what I share with whom, protecting my privacy and giving me more control of what is shared.

The drawback right now is that the vast majority of my friends are on Facebook, and only a few have found me on Google+. That will probably change. A network can only be social if it's where your people are.

1. Integration with Google Services

The biggest wedge Google has for driving people toward using Google+ is integration. That is, Google will build Google+ social networking features and tools into almost all of its existing online services from Search to Documents to Video (YouTube). Google+ is already integrated into the navigation bar at the top right of almost all Google products; this lets you monitor all Google+ events (updates, messages, etc.) as well as share content with friends without ever

leaving the Google service you happen to be using. Millions and millions of people use Google's free services (Gmail, Docs, Search, etc.), and with Google+ bound so tightly to them it may start to seem silly to jump out to some other site (Facebook) to do your social networking.

2. Better Friend Management

Google is right that the “Circles” concept is more in line with the way we make friends in real life. We have many different kinds of friends, and we interact with them and communicate with them in very different ways. Facebook’s Groups feature lets you form ad hoc groups of friends, but compared to the way its done in Google+ it seems cumbersome. After all, Facebook’s Groups feature is pretty new; it was “built on”, while friend "circles" are the bedrock of the Google+ platform.

3. Better Mobile App

If you're an Android user, you may find that getting content from

your phone to your social platform is easier, cleaner more functional with the Google+ mobile app. The app is already great, but Google will seek more and more ways to make your Android phone a seamless appendage of your Google+ social platform.

4. Easier to Find Stuff to Share

Google+'s Sparks feature is another important differentiator from Facebook. Spark is Google leveraging its search engine to do something Facebook can’t do—give users an instant wellspring of relevant information to share with friends. Because Facebook has no search engine, its users must leave the site to find shareable data or wait for their friends the share it with them. The question "how do I find stuff to share" is immediately answered with Sparks.

5. You Can Get Your Data Back

Facebook is notorious for its poor stewardship of personal data. You are forced to make certain parts of your personal data "public" for example, and It is very hard to permanently delete your Facebook profile. Google, on the other hand, makes it possible for you to pick up all the data you’ve banked at Google+ and walk away. This is done through a Google+ tool called “Data Liberation.” With just a few clicks you can download data from your Picasa Web Albums, Google profile, Google+ stream, Buzz and contacts.

6. Better Photo Tagging

When viewing photos in Google+ you can “tag” the people in them similar to the way you do in Facebook. You draw a little square around a person's face, then type in their name in the box below it (or choose one of the names Google+ guesses). But there’s a big difference in the way Google handles the privacy aspect of photo tagging. When you tag someone, you see this note: “Adding this tag will notify the person you have tagged. They will be able to view the photo and the related album.” Facebook, on the other hand, does not make an effort to warn people the they’ve been tagged (possibly in an unflattering or compromising photo) and give them an immediate chance to remove the tag.

Also, Google has wisely decided to shy away from using facial recognition software, which Facebook now uses to automatically identify people in photos uploaded to user albums.

For a network to be Social
your people have go to be there.

7. Strong Group Chat Features

Google+ has Facebook beat in the area of chat. Forming ad hoc group video chats using the Hangouts feature in Google+ is easy, and forming ad hoc groups for a little chat seems like a natural and fun thing to do in a social networking setting.

8. Safer Content Sharing

Privacy advocates have long called for social networking sites to let users assign a privacy level to each piece of content they share, instead of using a pre-set list privacy settings to govern all shares. Google obviously heard those calls, and built the capability into Google+. For instance, when I share an article or upload a camera image, Google+ gives me choices of which friend circles I’d like to share that content with. Advantage Google+.

9. Google Is a Better Steward of Your Personal Data

Running a social network is all about responsible stewardship of users' personal information. Facebook is a young, fast moving company that has proved itself to be cavalier in its movements, lacking in respect for user data privacy, and accident prone. Google on the other hand, is a far more mature company that is, I would argue, seen as more trustworthy than Facebook.

Check out Sullivan's whole article in PCWorld for more info, links to related articles, etc.

See a YouTube video telling you what Google+ is and why you need it.

1 comment:

Rick Carr said...

4 what it's worth: Even before the recent changes to Facebook, you could create categories for your friends (cf. G+'s "Circles"). Facebook just failed to promote the concept. Now that they've added it, they took it a step too far, imo, by having their system put your friends into lists for you rather than leaving it to your own knowledge of who's who among your friends.