Which Social Network Will Be Most Challenged by Google+ ?

Google+ is sweeping the Internet. In just a few short weeks Google+ has more than 10 million users. That’s pretty quick traction for a social network. With another social network added to the deck and the same limited hours in a day, the question remains, “If Google+ is a viable player in the social networking market, what existing network will suffer?”

based social network that is owned and operated by Google

It seems as if Google+’s aim is at Facebook. That’s the company that is challenging their online dominance and has always drawn the most comparisons whenever Google’s social presence was mentioned. However, my first reaction is that Twitter could suffer first.

Personally, I’ve found that my time on Facebook has remained about the same, but my time on Twitter has decreased as my Google Plus time has increased. Like Twitter, Google + is open and there are no restrictions as to whom you can follow and who can follow you. Your feed can be filled with strangers who just think you are interesting. Of the 124 people who have put me in a circle, 52 I have never met in real life or spoken to on Twitter (or another social network). This tendency to have strangers following me is much more similar to the dynamic of Twitter followers than my Facebook friends.

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Twitter has also yet to become a cultural staple. According to the Diffusion of Innovation Theory, I’d say that Twitter is at the Early Majority stage. On the other hand, Facebook is at the Laggard stage. Essentially everyone is on Facebook, or knows about it, or has chosen not to participate with full knowledge of the product. Which is why Twitter could be at risk, they haven’t reached the late majority yet and all the innovators and early adopters are fleeing to try the new shiny social network, Google+
STATS | Twitter Company Statistics
But Google’s aim has always been beating Facebook. How are they going to take down their Internet nemesis? We’ll soon find out. As it stands right now, there are no options for marketers and advertisers on Google+, but in two weeks time they’ll start to unveil their business pages. This is in direct competition with Facebook since Twitter has no explicit distinction between personal and professional accounts. Google+ could give Facebook stiff competition if they integrate some of their top products into business pages, most notably Google Analytics. This could give businesses a simple and complete view of their conversion funnel, from social share to website visit, to actual purchase.

Facebook’s onsite answer to Google Analytics is “Insights,” which in my experience are not very informative. The information available has improved over the years, but it still lacks capabilities that Google Analytics has. If you could create funnels on your branded Google+ profile, that would be a very valuable tool for brands that Facebook doesn’t offer. Bottom line, because of Google’s robust existing product line they could offer greater value to brands and companies than Facebook can currently offer and that could help them win market share.

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Google+ is the first project/product by Google since Gmail that I personally don’t hate. But I don’t quite love it…yet. I’m very interested to see the progress they make with the product because right now, Twitter has the most to lose, especially in the short term. If Google business pages are dynamite, then maybe Facebook will have the long term troubles with Google+. Obviously it remains to be seen, but I think Google is on to something and with a few iterations, it could realistically take a chunk out of both social networks. It will be interesting how many early adopters and the early majority take hold of it. If they don’t, Google+ may end up as just another has been in the social network game.

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