For Google, the party is over before it starts

There are going to be a gajillion articles about Google +, the new “Facebook killer.”

I haven’t seen the platform yet. I haven’t tested it. I don’t care about Google’s legacy of failure with other abysmal attempts at the social space. But I can predict it’s not going to kill Facebook. Here’s why.

I had a 17-year-old kid in one of my classes a few months ago. He’s a complete social media freak and a brilliant kid. I asked him: “If I gave you $50 bucks, would you switch from Facebook to something else?”

“Could I move everything on Facebook to the new platform?”

“No, I don’t think Facebook would allow that.”

“Then no.”

“What if it was $500?”

“No way.”

“What if it was $5,000?”

“Nope. Just couldn’t do it.”

And that my friends, is why nothing is going to beat Facebook. Here is what Google and every other pretender doesn’t understand. Facebook is not a website. It’s a lifestyle. The party’s over.

In more technical terms, Facebook may be entrenched as the king of social networking sites for a long time because the emotional and psychological cost of switching to something else is too high.

In our tech-addicted society of hyper-change, we’ve become conditioned to expect the next big thing. But every time we get our hands on the latest gadget or test drive an application, there is an inherent switching cost associated with that effort. If we try it out and perceive that the benefits of switching are too low compared to the time and energy it takes to make the change, we’ll drop the idea and simply stick to what is already comfortable and familiar.

The idea of raising this psychological switching cost is at the very heart of most marketing efforts! We want to create so much passion and loyalty for our products that consumers would never think of switching.

Most current users will find it very difficult to change to another social networking platform because the equity investment in Facebook is so high … and getting higher every day. That’s where they have their circle of online friends. That’s where they go to check on the Farmville crops. That’s where they go to see the daily pictures of the new grandchild. And that is where they are going to stay. It is their online home. Increasingly, it is their Internet.

Now some will say that the Google platform offer unique value as a viable ADDITION to Facebook. That is also faulty thinking. People abandoned MySpace because they just didn’t need two. Who has the time to maintain and commit multiple identities, multiple sets of friends? Is Google going to really offer something so uniquely sustainable that Facebook won’t be able to provide a competing alternative if they need to? To really make this work, Google will have to steal massive page views/ad dollars from Facebook.

I know this is unorthodox thinking, but I think this is the conclusion you have to come to if you focus on the fundamentals of human behavior instead of technology and gadgets. Google is not going to be able to catch Facebook, even if Google plus is great. The comment section is yours …

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  • I have had a go on both. I like google+ better.
    I think it could kill facebook, especially with hangouts. Also with circles you can keep friends, family and work separate. 

  • Nathan Dube

    I checked out some of the features of Google+ yesterday and they are very intuitive and fun, The emotion I experienced reminds a bit of how I react to the apple products I love.

    That being said, in light of your ideas above…

    I agree. Despite how good Google+ may end up being, it simply wont be enough to truly compete with, never mind “kill” Facebook.

    That being said, I may use the service for the “sparks” element alone. That is a function that I really dig.

  • Anonymous

    The thing to remember is that we are fickle beasts. Facebook really took off when kids moved en-masse away from messenger. It wasn’t a slow transition – it was emergent behavior. It happened once and it will happen again. There’s still a way to go before this ride comes to an end 😉

  • Hi Mark,

    I know it will be almost impossible for me to get my friends off Facebook. They play way too much Mafia Wars and Farmville to ever move.

    I do know that many people where security is an issue may find Google’s new network interesting. Of course, Facebook has security problems. That cannot be denied. I do think that most folks will stay with Facebook, because most people are slow to adopt change.

    I would use the Google network for contacts that are in social media and keep Facebook strictly for friends. I really do see some people using it that way. This way, you can keep your work life totally separate from your private life. That would be the one advantage Google has over Facebook are those “circles” it talks about.

    The bad thing about Google is this “invitation only” stuff. That can really give the Facebook users an “us vs. them” attitude. If I were Facebook – I would be playing up the “exclusive” angle – by making people feel bad that they were not invited – how better to retain users than get them pissed off that the other guy?

    This post interested me right away Mark. I also don’t think Facebook is going away. Facebook is as was mentioned in your video yesterday “a castle”

  • I’d shit in my own hand for and smear it in my hair for $5,000. I think ‘most’ normal kids would probably happily close down their FB account as part of the deal. Anybody emember Friends Reunited?

  • I suspect you are right. I find it clunky, and they are late to the game. And it has nothing to do with games and apps. Google waited too long and Facebook has become such an ingrained part of our lives. We live there. We’re not about to pick up and move, or try to live in two homes.

  • I like your thinking, Mark, and I agree with the fundamentals completely.

    I question whether this is a Facebook v Google head to head, though. People do have other social platforms — ie LinkedIn, Twitter — and if they thought this would combine all of those elements, they might be willing to shut down their participation in the others.

    I also question the assumption that Facebook is a fixture forever, amen, case closed. Why? Because I’ve lived through enough of these digital “can’t be beats” over the years to believe that, given the right blend of frustration and shiny, the switching cost can be overcome. See: $Prodigy, GNN, Mindspring, Earthlink, AOL. They were doing the web-within-a-web thing as far back as 1992 and folks were invested in those communities, too. Do I think it’s a matter of tossing out a new platform with extra sprinkles? Nope. But, from what I understand, Google has the pockets to be patient while folks decide whether to give it a go.

    You may be right on the money on this whole thing, though. I suppose — as with all things — time will tell. And if Google can’t get their act together to even let folks sign up, it’s all moot anyway. Can’t switch to something you can’t access.

  • I’m with you, Mark. I don’t think Google+ is a Facebook killer. I think Facebook is too big, and as you mentioned, it will take a lot for people to switch.

    However, I think the other big reason this won’t kill Facebook is because the functionality appears inherently different. I don’t have access yet, but from what I can tell, it offers a different way to connect that Facebook does. I think this will be a great tool for people who are already big Google/Gmail users. I could see this really enhancing the experience for people who use Google products regularly. 

    I also see this as something that could be very useful for small businesses, especially if they roll this out to Google Apps users (which I doubt they’ll do, especially right away, but it would be smart if they did). After all, I think the hangout functionality could be a great replacement for Skype since there are some limitations about the number of people who can hop on. I think that could work well for companies that have employees all over the place. The Sparks tool would be a great way to share information among teams, as would the Circles feature.

    All that said, I think Google Plus looks pretty neat, but it certainly isn’t a Facebook killer. I think it will just be a way to augment how folks communicate through their current Google and Gmail accounts. It will be interesting to see what happens once we have the ability to test it out for ourselves.

  • Google probably doesn’t care about Facebook in as much as taking their audience. It’s a completely different beast, and that’s what will gain it traction. Work groups, the multiple video chat option, circles of colleagues and peers, etc.

    As a user, I’d say it’s conferencing companies and work room companies like Huddle through should be more worried.

    Facebook is good for those that want to use it as a social hang-out. Google Plus seems that it will be a great business tool, especially for SMBs.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t say you thinking is unorthodox. I totally agree with you, and am sure many others do to. I’ll be honest, I cringed at the thought of another social media network. I have enough to manage now. It seems in the effort to enhance relationships and communication, we get lost in the vast sea of social tools.

    Keep is simple. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Quora. 
    Those are my picks..

  • Anonymous

    Three thoughts:
    1. The teen hears that question as “would you leave all your friends behind”? Of course they’ll say no. But if the cool folk they know are on Google+, that’s where they’ll go. That’s why the Facebook move happened from MySpace.2. Kids *especially* want to maintain multiple identities. They want their friends to see them looking cool, their parents to seem looking like golden angels and their bosses to see them as industrious. They’re masters at it. Facebook breaks that by throwing everything into one pot. Plus’s Circles handle this perfectly.3. Current users staying is a *benefit* for Plus. Facebook being chock-full of Granparents going “lol” and Farmville updates is a drawback. Let them keep FB.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks for contributing your perspective Chris!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I’m sure they’ll get some traction.  They’ll find their niche. Thanks Nathan.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Of course you could be right.  I think the only thing that can kill Facebook is Facebook.

  • Anonymous

    Three thoughts:
    1. The teen heard that question as “would you leave all your friends behind?”, so naturally the answer is no. They’ll go where the people they want to follow/know/rub alongside — the cool kids — are. If they’re on +, that’s where they’ll go. It’s how the move from MySpace happened.

    2. Maintaining multiple identities is what teens excel at. They’re party animals to their friends, little angels to their parents and industrious scholars to their teachers. Facebook rams all those identities into one, and people hate that.

    3. Not having the majority come along is a good thing. Grandmothers lol-ing it up and aunties doing nothing but playing farmville are not what you want on your hip new social network. Leave FB for them, as an AOL replacement.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I think the invitation only is only in the testing phase. I’m sure it it will take off soon.  Thanks for the very thoughtful pespective on this Nancy.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I’ll remember this Mark. It could be useful information. : )

  • Mark W Schaefer

    “live in two homes.”  Great way to put it. I think that’s how many people think of Facebook. Great comment Ken!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Outstanding, balanced comment Gina.  I thnk you touch on all the key issues here. 

    I do think the way the world is unfolding that there will be one dominant player in each niche.  Am I interested in a new Twitter competitor? Even if it’s better?  I’m thinking Twitter would eventually catch on a crush them right? And I’m not going to re-build a base of followers at this point. Same issue. Too much equity to switch. And FB has 10 x that! : )


  • Mark W Schaefer

    Great perspective Laura.  A blog post in its own right?  : )  Good job!

  • people didn’t leave Myspace because it was cumbersome to maintain two networks. They left because FB offered a better alterative to the advertising/band spam.

    people will leave FB when there’s a viable alternative that drastically improves on a FB pain point.

    thinking Facebook is forever entrenched is naive. 

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Agree. It is going to be a very interesting battle.  I also am amazed at Google’s legacy of failure. I think that has to be a consideration in this whole thing. Hopefully they have brought the right people on the bus. Always an honor to have you show up on {grow} my friend. Thanks!

  • Hmmm…. I can see your point Mark but people are fickle. If Google can convincingly answer the WIFM question then FB has a battle on its hand. I know many people who don’t have an FB account or who don’t use theirs. If Google can capture influencers then…then…. I’m not going to draw a hard FB line in the sand. Will be interesting to see how all this shakes out.

  • When I read the first articles about hands-on experience with Google+ (no invite here, either) I instantly started thinking along the same lines as Nancy. Facebook for friends, Google+ for business and social media contacts. A clean break.

    Having said that, yes, it will be yet another platform to take care of. On the other hand, I’m a semi-heavy user of Google services anyway, so if there’s seamless integration, I can see myself popping in and out regularly.

    Let them first iron out the problems there are at this stage, though. It will also be interesting to see what Facebook’s “awesome launch” will be. If it’s an iPad application, it won’t make much difference, but if they’re encroaching into Google+ territory, that may be a watershed for G+.

    (Boy, are there lots of delicious keywords here for the search engines to munch on…)

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I think people are hungry … starving … for simplicity.  That is an overwhelming consideration in any marketing plan! Thanks Dave!

  • “Facebook is not a website. It’s a lifestyle.” — This is so true.

    But in a way, I think Google is a lifestyle too. I LOVE iGoogle, because an imprint of my whole life is in one place: My calendar, my e-mail, the blogs I follow, my bookmarks, traditional and video chat, even Facebook and Twitter feeds (although they don’t always show up right away, but that’s another story). Add a social platform that you can fully integrate with all those other things and…watch out. I’m really excited to try it. Who knows? If Google + ever gets that 100th monkey, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

    Thanks for the great insights in this post Mark!

  • Mark, it’s not a Facebook killer, but there are enough folks (long tail remember?) who are tired of farmville, etc to want an alternative. The talk of everything being “two houses” etc is false.
    You gave your student an all or nothing proposition, which is NOT the way of the world. 
    People(customers) can go wherever they want for whatever they want.
    Twitter does not directly compete with FB and neither will G+
    the competition occurs on who can make the $ on advertising right?
    Facebook doesn’t have to win/kill or otherwise, it just needs to take eyes off FB even for moments for it to count.
    Myspace isn’t dying just because Facebook is better – it never kept up.
    Facebook has a chance to answer back- Google is just trying to get in the gaps where some on FB want an alternative.

  • Great article Mark 🙂
    I see Facebook & Google as the 21st century ‘Hoovers’. When I vacuum I say I am ‘hoovering’.
    Now, when I search online I am Google-ing.
    Household names derived from what the companies *started* out doing.
    I haven’t an account yet, sitting on the fence with the others…..

  • Some good points, but there is also a lot of backlash against Facebook, with privacy being one of the bigger issues, and a general deaf ear to user’s concerns being another (both these may be more perceived than real but perception is all that matters). I’ve had a number of friends in recent months quit FB, and we’ve all seen the articles about their losing of millions of users globally (especially in the US, Canada, and the UK). It will be very difficult for any social media platform to overcome Facebook’s huge presence, but certainly not impossible. I’m on the fence with this one. It’s going to be an exciting few months in the social media world either way!

  • If anyone wants an invite on Google+ just reply under this. There is a backdoor way to invite people. Try it before you knock it. It does have great integration with Android. And yes there are some quarks

  • “But why would you ever walk away from all of those connections? I have almost 4000 of them!”

    That was in 2005. Facebook was still a fledgling player in social media fighting for brand budgets to launch campaigns for. MySpace, who the quote refers to, was the dominant 3 ton social network gorilla.

    Digital connectivity is so pervasive – find anyone anywhere at any time – that theoretically speaking, I do believe that we gravitate more towards nomadic behavior in the digital space. It’s what pushed us from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook in the first place. Where Facebook differs however, is it bored a hole in its walled garden and created Facebook Connect, allowing for an unchanined/untethered Facebook experience – it became ubiquitous.

    But it’s Facebook’s ubiquity that could feasibly do it in. That same kid that was offered 5 grand to leave Facebook either has mastered the art of limited profiles or is such an absolute angel, he doesn’t mind sharing all of his worlds with his parents.

    That’s the beauty of Google+. The concept of social circles, selectively deciding who sees what concept, may seem difficult for an average user to initially grasp, but the learning curve should be much quicker given both the UI and UX.

    Unlike other Google innovations that never made it out of the first quarter, this one’s reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. I have yet to find someone write “I don’t get it.” and that means they may actually have a hit on its hand. Will it kill Facebook? Doubtful. But will it compete for total hours of attention its users share between the social properties? Absolutely. And remember, Google has the advantage of a mobile OS as well to keep its users connected…

  • Maybe that’s not the point. Perhaps an exclusive, better-controlled network is the answer for most of us.

  • I agree with you that Google+ will not replace Facebook and that Facebook is not going away, but I believe this is for different reasons.

    1, Google does a horrendous job explaining the value of their social-focused services to the masses. Buzz – Pretty cool, but the average joe was not interested. Wave – Also cool, but the typical internet user did not understand what it was for. The same thing will happen with Google+ even if if the best thing since sliced bread.

    2, Facebook is becoming web infrastructure. With Facebook comments, photo slideshows, status updates widgets, and a number of other Facebook aspects being embedded all over the web away from, people don’t have to be really dedicated to Facebook and going to constantly to actually use its services.

  • Izziem

    I can’t wait to try Google+.  I’ve been on the tour and it looks really cool.  Will it fly for business?  Who knows.  Will the kids migrate?  Who knows.  But here is what I do know:

    The kids want off Facebook because it’s been overrun by their parents….they are always searching for a new place to be online where we aren’t….I have a teenager and have been watching this phenomenon for years….AIM to Piczo to MySpace to Facebook to Tumblr…as soon as I get on, she gets off:)

    Facebook has become less and less user friendly to business over the last year….if I can find a more useful platform, I’ll be there

    Multiplatform is the way to go anyway….you don’t put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to social media.

    Of course, I haven’t abandoned MySpace either!  I maintain all of my pages with the hope that one of these days it will come back with a roar!

  • Anonymous

    As I read this article I’m thinking you’re so right – facebook made it simple for us to connect, and re-connect, now that we have they own us and all our posted content too. It’s just too difficult, too time consuming and too emotionally draining for us to ‘divorce’ facebook, move all our stuff out. We are human beings using technology to facilitate the social process, we always look for the path of least resistance – we’ll stay right where we are unless and until someone comes up with something that is so incredibly awesome we can’t stand not to play, but until then like it or not fb owns us all.

  • Hi Mark,

    Great post…again.

    I agree with much of what you say here, but I also have to agree with what Gina says above. I think we already do manage multiple profiles. Facebook is a “social” network, and I mean that in the purest sense of the word. It’s a place for managing our social outings, entertainment and maybe reuniting with your ex from high school. LinkedIn is where we manage our professional networks. And Twitter has become our most direct means for communicating objectives to a self-selecting audience. With that all said, I actually think Google+ has a chance at existing alongside Facebook.

    Here are the 6 things I see as key to Google’s success in this area:

    1. Continued improvement of its Circles feature. Drag and drop, man. Drag and drop. Yes, you can select what audience you want to send particular updates, links and messages to on Facebook. But it is an incredibly tedious undertaking. Google is making this particularly easy with Circles. I’ve already set up circles for family, my current workplace, my past colleagues, friends for the two different cities I have lived in and for people I know purely through social media.

    2. Mobile. Make this incredibly mobile and incredibly easy to access, particularly the selection of circles, and people will flock to it. It would just make texting so simple.

    3. Tagging. They need to enable tagging photos, Places and updates, much like Facebook. But they should add a layer Facebook has neglected. Right now, my privacy settings in Facebook say my friends can tag me. I think Google should allow my friends and family to tag me, but rather than automatically enabling the tag and then making me delete the tag if I dislike it, they should alert me that someone has tagged me and ask me to confirm the tag before it goes public.

    4. Geosocial. If Google integrates its mapping and satellite features into a geosocial function, it could be a huge boon. Google has such a richer and deeper mapping features than Facebook that they could make Facebook places seem quaint.

    5. Google +1. I would argue the proliferation of the Facebook like across websites helped spur activity and popularity on Facebook. Google has made the +1 available now, but it’s got a ton of catching up to do. (Here’s a chart showing how much: )

    6. Integrate search. Google, obviously, rules search. Imagine if they enabled search results right onto Google+ so what I some them to the right of my profile or my stream? I could find whatever I need without ever leaving my social space. I could add my +1 more easily to articles, photos and businesses too. It would be like having a total desktop.

    Anyway, these are my thoughts. I’m just guessing, but I don’t think Facebook has won the day yet.

  • Debra Evans Matthews

    Good pint Kimmo – maybe its LinkedIn who will be the ones to suffer the effects of Google+  LI is where I keep business contacts. I too am a pretty heavy user of Google services and the convenience factor might sway me but only from LI because it would be one less stream to keep track of.

  • Love point #2 – Maintaining multiple identities is what teens excel at.#2.

    How right you are. I could see teens getting into how much control you have over who sees each and every piece of content you are posting.

    Also have to agree with some of the other {grow}-ers here, Facebook is incredibly difficult to work with as a business. Both as a marketer, and also working for a software company that accesses FB API – it’s just downright painful all around. I welcome this challenge from Google and I’m having fun playing around with G+ so far.

  • I agree – I don’t think that Facebook can’t be beat. I think it will either fade away as technology changes or there will be something that comes along that makes it obsolete. Just like you mentioned, other behemoths have fallen off over time.

    In the meantime, I don’t think Google+ will kill Facebook because this appears to be an entirely different beast. Though, it’s hard to know without getting the chance to use it yet!

  • Maybe so! Thanks for the nudge. I’ll let you know if I write about it.

  • I need an invite. Still wtg on mine. Was in some big mtgs this week & missed it. Thx Ryan! 

  • I’m right there with you on this, Danny. I see this as a potentially huge tool for businesses, not so much as something that competes directly with Facebook. After all, why use Skype when you can Huddle a whole bunch of folks across the world and do it for free?!

    The same goes for Sparks, I could really see businesses use that to easily share bookmark and share content back and forth. I don’t have access yet, but I agree that it could be great for small businesses, especially mobile ones that work with people scattered across the globe.

  • I agree Danny! I think too many of us don’t have time for yet another network unless this is clear value in doing such. 

  • I agree with you Mark for the most part. I have to admit I haven’t been officially on the system yet. I did see it via a friend and got my hands on it as I am wtg on my invite that has been sent by a few. 

    Anyway, the market is different than it was 1 or 1.5 yrs ago. People are more invested in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. It’s working for many.

    I think Google’s greatest challenge is going to be in showing real value. Any launch that takes 11 videos to explain is a fail before it started. It’s 10.5 videos too many and clearly lacking a value proposition. 

    Yes, the circles may be cool, hangout may be cool. However, it’s nothing Facebook can’t copy. I can see hanging out there with my social network friends. I don’t see it yet replacing business on LInkedIn. I definitely know my FAcebook friends will not jump ship. So where does it sit then? Until there is a validated for the masses to move my opinion is it sits right in the middle of nothing, similar to Buzz. I could be wrong, obviously. 

    I am too busy to spend time on another network that isn’t adding value even if my *some* of my social friends are there. Guess what, they’re on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn too. 😉

    Many businesses are still barely getting on Facebook. In the short term I would look like a fool to now explain to my clients who have invested in Facebook integration with their website, blog and business strategies that we need to add Google+ in to the mix. What reason would I be able to explain for them to do such? At this stage, nothing. 😉

    On one hand I am happy to see some competition for Facebook. Maybe they can give some time to the agencies who setup the clients who pay for their ads. They do very little to make our life easier in managing accounts.

  • I have been on Google+ since Wednesday and am still finding my way around.
    It’s a fairly intuitive format for Facebook users. Interestingly everyone
    I’m connecting with there is from my Twitter account. Not a single
    connection — so far — is someone I only see on Facebook.

    I struggle to balance Twitter and Facebook and I’ve neglected LinkedIn to
    the point of wondering if it would be more professional to just delete my
    profile. So, I’m not chomping at the bit for another something, but I would
    *love* a single something. (I’m one of those folks who would rather use the
    camera on my phone than carry a different camera.)

    I don’t need my whole network to be on G+ for me to abandon one or all of
    the other formats. I don’t know what the tipping point would be. Malcolm
    Gladwell would say the real number of connections we can actively maintain
    is 200. So, when the 200 people I want to talk to are all in one spot, maybe
    that’s when I make it my default network.

    There are plenty of people *not* on any of them to make me wonder if we’ve
    truly established a winner. We still have to call my mother-in-law to tell
    her to check her email. Ma Bell ain’t dead yet.

  • It is very similar to facebook – enough so that you wouldn’t have much of a learning curve to transition. Best I can tell, the only thing missing are the games. And the people. 😉

    Hopefully they’ll get that worked out before the story becomes “They threw a social party and forgot to invite the guests.”

  • Lennart K

    Quote: “And that my friends, is why nothing is going to beat Facebook.”

    If that was right, everybody would still be using MySpace, wouldn’t they?

    I think Facebook agrees with me, otherwise they would not block users, who write positive about Google+ on Facebook.


    Lennart K.

  • Anonymous

    Got into Plus today. It isn’t quite as pick up and go as Facebook. You have to learn how google wants you to use their social network.
    Some great features though. Circles has promise. Hangout looks good, but I wonder if that would be better off as a separate application outside of plus.

    Still not sure why I should use it over Facebook. Same as why I don’t use buzz instead of twitter. There is no reason to!

  • I think the really interesting part of Google+ is the decentralization of “fan pages” with the +1 button. Effectively it makes the entire web part of Google+ instead of forcing someone to create a fan page on the proprietary network, subject to the network’s terms of service. Google is offering collaborative tools and interesting ways to connect and socialize, but allowing people to do it around the whole idea of a very decentralized scenario… like… well… how Google works anyway with search.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Certainly agree with that point Elyse! Competition is a good thing!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Great points.  More than friends, I also think it’s leaving content behind but legitimate points, thanks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Well, I would’t say it’s naive. I actually put a lot of thought into it and while it goes against my instincts as a business person that this thing won;t be replaced soon, I also have a masters degree in applied behavioral sciences and what I see with FB is different than other platforms.  It is incredibly integrated into people’s life in a powerful way.  It will not be upended easily.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I’m wodnering if people who don’t use FB would really be ready adopters of Google’s entry?  I think they’re chasing the same people?

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Really good insights Kimmo.  We have a battle on our hands and that will be good for all of us.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Hmmm .. interesting perspective.  I don;t see having as much quity in LI compared to FB.  Good addition to the discussion Debra!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Nice to see you back in the comment column Christine!  Thanks for your insights today!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I appreciate your dissent and partially agree with you. If Google is trying to create a new niche, then that’s a smart way to go.  But from what I read, this is meant to be a direct hit to Facebook — and I’m guessing FB sees it that way too. No matter the functionality, if this siphons page views and customers from FB, it will be a battle!  Thanks.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Nice insight Lesley. Thanks for taking the time to comment today Lesley.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Nice insight Lesley. Thanks for taking the time to comment today Lesley.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I agree 100% I wrote in a recent blog post that FB is its own biggest enemy as long as it keeps rolling the dice with privacy.  That is definitely where they are vulnerable. Thanks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    The point of my article is that is a long putt to unseat FB — no matter what the bells and whistles are.  You disagree with that?

  • Mark W Schaefer

    The point of my article is that is a long putt to unseat FB — no matter what the bells and whistles are.  You disagree with that?

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I don;t believe humans are inantely nomadic. We crave stability and balance.  In traditional business, you start a company, sell a product and try to make money and gain marketshare. But the digital companies know that dominating the niche is absolutely key. They are willing to lose money for years to dominate because in the long run there will not be nomadic behavior between platforms, there will be stability. It all gets back to the main point of the article — what are the switching costs.  Google will have to make the benefits outweigh loyalty to FB. It’s that simple.

  • Anonymous

    Mark, so happy that you posted this. For once I disagree with you!

    Is there some room for a Fb replacement, whether it be a similar product or a complete new one? I will say YES. I tried Google+ and it has some good extra in it, it is mainly missing people right now. But overall I don’t think that I am going to like it (it is not straightforward to understand what you can do and how it works). This does not mean that there is no room for another social site and maybe for one who will replace facebook or twitter. I would ever say never, how many major brands (I know it was before the social revolution) have disappeared? AOL, Yahoo (on the way out according to me), Myspace, Netscape (used to be the main player) where are they now? Completely disappeared or slowly going down. And I don’t think that I would never be ready to move away from FB, I would not mind. Right now it may be complicated to move your friends away but it may work one day. Most of your friends may have sent you an email or a text message? They could be tracked down easily. Some people you connect through twitter but never met? Pretty easy to let them know where to join a new social media site (a facebook, twittter look alike or something new). So I think you may be wrong (as I can be) and facebook or twitter may not live forever.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Agree on both points, which were implied in my post. I mean remember ho everybody was going crazy over Google Wave?  Their legacy of failure is stunning.  An I’m right with you with point two. Facebook is becoming the portal for all media, content, entertainment, communications, maybe even banking.  Thanks Eric.  

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You know I like this point very much about it being overrun by parents.  That is a very provocative idea.  You might be on to something there. Will be interesting to see Google advertising pn the product to see who they go after and how they position this!

  • Where is the line of Google seeing this as a direct hit to FB? After reading
    both In the Plex and the Facebook Effect, I can see more clearly that while
    they compete it is more like the old days of UHF when there were three
    channels ~ you might prefer CBS but it didn’t mean you ignored NBC or ABC

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Yup, that is what I was trying to say … you just did much more succinctly. Thank you Debra!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I love this comment. It blends this hostorical failure of Google — being too “engineering” as the many videos imply.  There may be a lot of steak there, but we just want to know the sizzle!  : )

    And I agree, the competition is a GOOD thing!!!  Thanks for the excellent comment Pam!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    No, my point is that there will only be one company dominating each social niche.  Why launch a new LinkedIn?  Why launch a new Twitter? That has already been done.

    Look at what is going on in the location app space. Gowalla is slugging it out with Foursquare. They know it is a death match because only one will survive and thrive as a market leader. That was the same for FB and MySpace too.  There just were not going to be two.  It had to consolidate. Google is trying to expand a market that has already consolidated. That will only happen if they can offer unique, sustainable value that exceeds the switching costs. SImple economics.  We;’ll see.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    That’s a big problem.  If Google is to succeed, it has to be able to articulate a powerful and unique value proposition. Thanks for the insight!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks for this valuabkle perspective Michael. Much appreciated.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I’m delighted that you disagreed with me. That’s why we’re here.  Thanks for taking a strong position.  And by the way, I agree that it is strange of me to predict longevity for FB when that is certainly not the history of business and innovation.  It is an uncomfortable position, taking a role against history.  But I think leaving FB is more like leaving your family than switching brands of cola.  I sense this is a different animal.

    Nevertheless, I value your position and thank you very much for contributing it!

  • most ppl i’ve observed talking about google+ have focussed on “circles” as being one of the key components that make it worth investigating further. compartmentalising our online lives as we do our interaction rituals in the real world. mmm, does anyone remember ning? exactly, what happened there?

    google+ will appeal to the social media power users. those ppl whose lives are linked heavily to facebook, they wont move, and why whoudl they? when the new kid on the block makes it a condtion that i sign up to their email servvice, they arent making it easier for the average jo to get on board. if google wanted to create a single network where geeks can hang out and converse with other geeks, they’ve may have just dont that.

    however there is a problem, and its quite a major one…

    availability of time and the amount of information / data we are expected to process.

    ppl cannot multi-taks effectively. study after study has shown this to be true, and ppl’s attention span is already diminishing to the point where it is becoming difficult to separate man from fish. and that is with the amount of data we have right now.

    the problwm is that we are trying to create better filters to place the exact info we need right in frony of our eyes, and that is going to work against us. we dont need better filters, we need less information (to fit in with the time we have available to spedn upon it).

    we have fooled ourselves into thinking that we spend too much time filtering out the stuff we dont need, to get to that “nugget” of info that makes a difference.

    as our filters improve, we will spend less time filtering out the stuff we dont need however we’ll spend even more time processing the data now presented to us. and process it we must, as we’ve created the filters to get to it, we cant ignore it, we might miss that one “nugget” of info.

    the result? we’ll be more stressed, and spend less time per transactions which equals lees effective communication.

    and that is progress? i dont believe it is

  • Mark W Schaefer

    No, it’s not like that it in this market.  I really don’t think so.  I think there will only be one dominant product in each niche.  It’s not comparing NBC and CBS. It’s comparing radio, TV and internet IMO.  It’s like that Blue Ray Battle two years ago. There was only going to be one format. People do not need two products unless there is distinct value.  Maybe Google + will have that value.  But it better bring a lot to compete with FB.  Of course that is the strategy. They are all chasing page views/user data/ ad dollars.  Do you think FB is going to ignore this?  No, they know it is a threat to their growth.  But you may be right. Who knows? It’s just my opinion and I appreciate the discussion friend.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I think FB can be beat if the competior brings enough distinct and sustainable value to overcome the switching costs.  It just gets down to this fact. It’s about the economics of human behavior.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I think there will be many fragmented niches all over the Internet. Heck, there are still milliosn fo people on dial-up.  Some people loved Google Wave.  We’ll see where it leads! : )

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I think you have correctly identified a formula for unique and sustainable differntiation for Google. Is it enough to get people to switch, or at least invest in two platforms?  That;s the key. It simply gets down to the economics of switching costs.  Thanks for the outstanding comment Jesse!

  • I can see the different medium case and don’t disagree that google has lots
    to learn and Fb will adapt but I don’t think we can dismiss this out of hand
    either. I also don’t think it fails if it doesn’t KILL. Fb

  • It’s nearly all about Empire Avenue these days. The people rising to the top on Empire Avenue are beginning to dominate elsewhere too. I love Google+ too. The hangouts have engendered a new level of connection between the connectors in the past few days.Looking forward to the full FB and skype integration in the next few days

  • Anonymous

    To use that most hated of phrase it needs USP or a killer app to draw people in.


  • Mark, I don’t think it’s fair to say the party’s over before it has started. I like Google + so far. It’s cleaner and less spammy and more transparent than Facebook. It really just looks so… neat and clean. I’ve added a dozen people to my Circles and created a few custom Circles. Mostly real friends or online friends are adding me, but if someone totally random adds me to their Circle, I don’t have to deal with them unless I want to. I can block them, too.

    Google + won’t be as marketing-heavy. I see it as a place to interact
    with a chiseled down network of people, not brands. I’d rather interact
    with brands on Facebook.

    I’ve been using Google + for all of two days. I already love that from
    the get-go, I’m placing the friends I add into Circles. It will be much
    easier to control what I see in my feed and what others see that I
    publish. Facebook doesn’t have the same easy privacy controls over
    content and viewing. I hate sorting through my Facebook News Feed. I am
    still slowly unfriending people I don’t even know so I can whittle
    friend list back down to the hundreds. With Google +, I get a fresh
    start where I can take this clean slate and mark it up as an adult,
    instead of as a younger student who signed up for Facebook for really
    different reasons.

    With every update to Facebook, users gained more abilities to interact and publish content (with additions like photos, notes, Facebook Places, and countless apps). Facebook kept growing and growing and it’s become this bohemoth that frankly frightens me sometimes. It’s not just the ubiquity, but the eerie feeling that when I post with visibility set to a custom list, that post isn’t truly private.

    Whether the feeling of privacy will improve on Google +, I don’t know. But I feel safer knowing that the guidelines and privacy policy will be clearly laid out at the start. Facebook has scrambled to update and modify theirs all along, each time decreasing my trust. Remember when Mark Zuckerberg used to message everyone and explain how they were changing privacy settings? Facebook has become so cluttered and shrouded behind a lengthy privacy policy that it just seems noisy and unsecure. I’m psyched for Google + to be my place to really see and share exactly what I want and from whom.

  • I don’t want Farmville; I want the pure social party, clutter-free. I see Google + as a complement, not a replacement for Facebook. Google Plus can be this pure, white, clean and controllable platform easy on the eyes where my Google contacts already live and my profile isn’t convoluted by preordained categories/info boxes. I don’t have to worry about Walls and confusing privacy controls.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I guess the way I look at it, it has nothing to do what I say about it.  If the things you mention create enough value for people to make a switch, Google will be successful. It sounds that for you, you’ve already made up your mind in that regard.  Will the masses join you?  It’s all gets down to the  economics of human behavior.  Will the value exceed the emotional and psychological switching costs? It will have to be a powerful value proposition.

    Thanks for your excellent comment Emily!   

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I really hate the competitive nature of the social web. We’re all being assigned numbers. People can;t just be people. Now we;re competing for shares/status/ego.  Tiring.  Thanks for the perspective, Michael.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks for the very thoughtful perspective on this. A good line of logic. Well done Mike.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Agree. It probably will fill a niche. I like and respect Google but wish they would learn how to develop and market their products : )

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Let’s hope so.  I actually can’t stand the Facebook user interface.

  • This time is much better- they do scarcity pretty well

  • Enrique Gutierrez

    To be fair, I’ve done what you’ve done. Made assumptions based on a headline without actually reading your post. 

    Sounds fair right? 

    My assessment, you’re wrong, of course.

    Let me guess, you don’t like change, you use an iPhone, and love your iPad. Probably wrote this post from your MacBook Air. I’m just guessing, I as I don’t even know you, but I can make my assumptions – since you’ve set the bar one what’s right and wrong in terms of generating a flame war on your site for traffic or your own ego’s sake – who knows. What I do know is – this type of blogging is what separates blogging from real journalism, and needs to die. If you ever want your site to grow, post real shit or get off the pot. 

    Google+ is an amazing interface, great application and integration of mobile, social and communication bundled up into one sweet, unified package that feels familiar, and is well blended with Gmail & Google Calendar. 

  • I agree completely. He loses ALL credibility by opening with “I’ve never even seen it but…”

  • If that’s what you think Mark, then how do you know G+ isn’t it since you *have not tried it and familiarized yourself with it AT ALL* ?

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Assume you didn’t read the post. Certainly you didn’t understand it.  It’s a commentary on basic economics and psychology.   I value dissent but this is lousy hit and run feedback.

  • See what happens when something isn’t properly reviewed prior to writing something about it when there’s an audience? Pretty crappy, I know. I didn’t – in fact – read the post. Didn’t care to. What I do know is basic economics is simple, Google scores a billion uniques per month, gmail is a strong hold in email, and G+is heavily integrated with both search and gmail. Once it rolls out, that’s a big number. I also know that FB has poor reception to those of us who appreciate privacy; so as far as the psychology aspect – be rest assured, believing that FB can be trumped by Google+ isn’t as far fetched as you think. The party’s just starting… and.. I still haven’t read this post.

  • I most certainly did read the post in full, and found it horrifically frustrating.

    Did people not migrate from Friendster to MySpace, then MySpace to Facebook? In your post you say “nothing is going to beat Facebook” and then in the comments go on to say “I think FB can be beat if the competior brings enough distinct and sustainable value to overcome the switching costs.” Do you not see how that is hypocritical? You can’t make an *educated* assessment of whether or not G+ has that sustainable value. The comment isn’t hit and run, the blog post is.

  • Google+ probably won’t kill Facebook, or Twitter, but it will make the overall Google experience across all Google products much more social.

    BTW, Google, as a whole, has more users than FB.

  • Brian Kennemer

    Sure, but 3 years ago there were 10 million MySpace users that were saying the same thing. Now NewsCorp is selling it for $35M just to get rid of it. I think the Facebook hold is stronger but MySpace was a lifestyle too. It is all about inertia. MySpace had it. Facebook has it now.

    Im not saying Google will capture it but Facebook for all its inertia has some big problems:  privacy concerns, a UI that seems to get worse everytime they ‘make it better’, and a company that seems to flat out ignore anyone uses the website. If Google+ or someone else does it better, cleaner and with more interaction (or even the illusion of interaction) they will get some, slowly. Get enough and Google+ becomes Facebook. It will take a while but someone will do it because Facebook seems unwilling to fix itself.

  • Anonymous

    I read it and here is what’s wrong with your post: you can, in fact, export stuff from Facebook. That’s been available for almost a year now. Creating a plugin that enables Google+ to integrate that data isn’t so far-fetched.

  • Brian Kennemer

    But the larger issue is not just bringing over your posts and pictures. Within the context of FB “everthing” is not just your text and pictures. it is EVERYTHING, which would include you friends. What good is Google+ to me if 90% of my friends are still on FB? What do I have then? A nice cool interface with all my FB ‘content’ but nobody to interact with because they are all on FB.

  • How many of your friends use Google to search?

  • 2nd sentence into his comment, “Made assumptions based on a headline without actually reading your post. “

  • Brian Kennemer

    The majority. if your implication is to be valid then something close to the same number of my friends that use Google for search should also use it for email.That is NOT the case however. What email ‘system’ you use has inertia. Im used to using yahoo or live or X so I keep using it. I know it. Im mostly comfortable with it so unless they mess up or some external event presses me to change, I will not change.

    Making the switch to Google+ from FB is even more subject to the idea of inertia. it has all the same inertia as email with the SUPER strong inertia involved with what your friends are doing. Im sure someone has done an algorithm for this but every X of my friends that make the change to Google+ makes me Y% more likely to also change. This would be roughly constant up to a given % is met. then each person that moves would make me even more likely. it would seem to be something like an exponential curve.

    Not saying it will not happen. just saying that this kind of inertia is strong stuff for ‘normal’ people. (where ‘normal’ = someone that does not experiment and test this kind of stuff for a living and in particular non-techie types.)

  • Brian Kennemer

    Sure but most of those users are there for search only. how many gmail or Google Apps users are there? how many users are really “immersed” in google as a platform?

    Google search users will leave as soon as another engine returns better results, see Bing’s grabbing of more share once they got their results in order. What search site you use does not have any dependance on what site your friends use.

  • Brian Kennemer

    Were you somehow operating under the assumptiont that prior to FB, twitter and blogs that we were all LESS competitive? FB and twitter did not change people. They just gove us tools to compete faster and more broadly and without leaving our beds.

  • Talk about missing out 😉

  • Complete agree with Mark with his comment.

  • I’ve used it…and to be frank…it really could be a great tool for managing communities, but for the average non-social media-ite, google+ is a no go.

    I think the one thing that sets Facebook apart from everyone else is that their photo albums were so easy to navigate, that we’ve documented our lives on it. I believe twitter didn’t take in mass the way Facebook did is because there’s no way to browse images.

  • I heard a lot of people say that about Quora…and Google Wave.

    And if you want to talk privacy…let’s talk opt-in. If person A adding person B to their circle means that person B will see person A’s updates, that’s retarded. I mean, I can add you to my circle which means I choose not to see ANYTHING you post, but you automatically see everything I say? 

    I’m not saying that Facebook is the end-all, be-all of social media, but I am saying that Google+ has some serious flaws and you can’t turn a blind cheek to them just because you think being an early adopter is cool. #justsaying

  • I’ve tried it…and so far…it’s not a facebook killer. Hopefully though it’ll push Facebook to make some bold steps in innovation.

  • Brian Kennemer

    Good point…and something else I find annoying about Google+ is this instance on generating buzz by doing an invite only soft rollout. Enough already. We know you are hip and cool. Roll it out or dont. Invite only false-buzz is SOO 5 years ago GMail lame. 😉

  • There was no ‘quantitative’ way of measuring ourselves benchmarked against others before social…I think that’s all he’s saying. Not that we were less competitive, but that we are more easily ‘measured’ and gloat about it.

  • Brian Kennemer

    It might be that there is a conversation to have about the subject that is feature-agnostic. Features aside there is a HUGE incentive to stay with FB until a critical mass of your friends move and they  have the same pressure on them as well. So the overwhelming tendancy right now, regardless of features, is going to be to NOT move anywhere.

    This conversation should not be about features but rather about the psychology of human group behavior.

  • And the soft rollout wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t ‘Over capacity’ EVERYTIME you send some one an invite. It’s as if they thought ‘hey twitter’s failwhale model…we should lead with that.’

  • It’s not that you’re not invited…it’s that Google chose to hold off on letting any new invites through the door. 

    It’s kind of like going to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with a golden ticket and an oompa loompa stopping you and saying, ‘oh, we’re sorry, you’ve been invited? we’ve already broke the chocolate factory with the 8 kids that are here now. You’ll have to wait.’ 

  • Somewhat unrelated, but I wonder how much of this is backlash from FB taking adwords market share?

  • Hey Mark,

    Quick Update: I don’t remember Facebook having a server capacity issue during it’s fledgling years…and I’ve already been kicked out of Google+ and received server over capacity issues 3 times today.

  • I’m with Mark, and I’m more than happy with Facebook. I haven’t seen any evidence of Farmville  in nearly a year, since I blocked all those apps. You don’t need to see them. Facebook may fall some day, and Google may come up with something to take them down, but this isn’t it.

  • Pingback: – The Blog Library()

  • I have a brother who is 18 and a sister who is 22. Both were heavily invested in MySpace when it was popular. They spent hundreds of hours on the site–not just chatting, but also designing their pages, uploading photos and music, etc. It was a lot of work. Yet, when their friends started using Facebook, they abandoned their efforts on MySpace and rebuilt their huge friend lists on Facebook. Now, they’re starting to complain about the things they dislike about Facebook and spending much less time there.

    I don’t think Google or any other company will kill Facebook. But that young audience will abandon ship if something much better comes along. My brother and sister would snap up that $5k in a second, even if it meant they had to rebuild their networks from scratch–again. 

  • Incorrect. People can add me all day; I don’t see anything they post until I add them to one of my lists – deliberately.

  • Don’t forget the part where I said I had no intention of reading the post to prove the same point of validity of claims the author has on judging a service prior to using it… still haven’t read it actually. Is it any good?

  • That’s what I meant. He said he was assuming you hadn’t read the post, which to me meant that he missed the part where you said you didn’t. 

  • I’m sure there are plenty of Gmail/Apps users, but my point is that G+ doesn’t have to be a FB killer in order to succeed. I’m perfectly fine with FB being a “friends and family/masses” network, and G+, LI & Twitter being more for prof. networking. 

    I think people should give them a chance to get out of BETA before saying the G+ party is over before it started. If anything, the Google/Facebook “war” will give us, the end user, a lot more than we have now.

  • I didn’t read your article, but you are dead wrong and here is why.. see where I am going?

    Well, I did read it and you are still flawed in your assumption. Remember the emotional investment we once had in MySpace? That seemed insurmountable. Your second assumption is that no one will find a way to move photos and other assets from FB (if I understand correctly). I don’t see that as a huge issue. Would that involve more than a third party app that allows connections from both API’s?

    Maybe you should save the dirge for after you use that platform and understand how it works. I will say it will not be an overnight switch. But G+ is a serious threat which (for now) will only force everyone to bring their a-game.

    My guess is that you are writing a comment-bait post on the days headline to boost your ad rates. In which case, you are spot on in hitting your goal and you are also welcome for the boost.

  • Anonymous

    If everyone shifts to Google Plus like they did from Orkut to Facebook, why not? I agree Facebook is part of our culture- but it is fulfilling a need. When Google Plus does that, we won’t need Facebook. We may still end up using Facebook to keep in touch with those who refuse to move to Google Plus. But Google plus looks much hipper than Facebook. It’s the new party in town. I like adding people to circles but I share publicly, it is too much trouble to share circle wise. I do have a gut feeling Facebook understands the user more though. Let’s see.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I agree. If Google can fill human needs better than FB people will switch.  But it will take a lot to do that right?  That’s my point. Thanks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    My posts generally average 70 comments day in and day out. I don’t need to write a post to bait for comments.  If you were familiar with the community, you might be less judgmental.  I appreciate your dissent but resent the depiction.  Suggesting that FB is entrenched due to high switching costs seems like common sense, not link bait.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks for sharing this perspective Marianne!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I don’t think the situation between MySpace and FB was the same as what were were seeing now. It’s like Foursquare and Gowalla slugging it out. There will be one dominant player. Neither one is entrenched (although it seems like 4sqaure is winning?)  So in that example, I think it was a situation of market consolidation. People wanted to commit to one product.

    This situation is occurring after the winner emerged and there is a new rival.  It’s an important nuance. It will be extraordinarily difficult to unseat the incumbent, an incumbent that is gathering power day by day.

    As you say, if Google offers superior features, it will find a niche. Maybe it will even find a way to pry people away from Faceboo.  Thanks very much Brian!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    And hopefully it will make FB better too. FB needs the rivalry.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    True.  Good point.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    The simple point is that it doesn’t matter if it’s Google, Yahoo or the man in the moon. It doesn;t matter if it has cool features or a clean interface.   For whatever platform to beat FB, they will have to offer value so insanely great — and unique — that it will get not only an individual to switch but entire networks of people to switch. In the end, tapping a rival platform as your primary social network will involve moving your whole network, your content, your games, etc. That is not going to be easy to do for any rival company and that is my point.  It’s easy for individuals to say, it’s cool, I’ll use it. It’s another to say, I’m abandoning FB to move my stuff somewhere else.  The competing technology will have to be truly disruptive for people to make a wholesale switch — like DVDs beating out VHS. 

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Yeah, that’s my point too Chase.  We are publicly evaluated and it drives bizarre behaviors.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    If it is truly a disruptive technology, you’re right!

  • Exactly! In this G/FB “war”, we will be the winners as they try to out-do each other. 🙂

  • Really? I mean you just pronounced G+ as DOA before having experienced it first hand when we have seen the dominant player fall to the upstart within the last few years. That seems sensationalist at best. I mean you took a stance on the hottest issue of the day with no real facts to go from other than the opinion of a single 17 year old about his love for FB. I don’t mean to hold your feet to the flames here, but recent history shows that switching cost is not insurmountable.

    Let’s be honest… Most blogs are written to elicit comments. That makes you effective, not a bad person. So indignation isn’t really warranted. However, as an effective community leader don’t you feel the least bit responsible to gather all the data before issuing an opinion? I digress.

    To your original point, switching cost is derived from perceived value. Value (in this case) is expressed as a measure of network connections. Thus, the more people on G+, the lower the cost. Remember how FB took off? By being exclusive and opening up after the buzz was huge. G+ is doing the same thing by launching with social media influencers at their core. Will it work? Who knows. But it is far too early to tell. My main point previously was that this will only serve to drive better products for the end user.

  • It’s way too early to jump to this conclusion, and also makes the assumption that Google+ intended as only a Facebook competitor. It’s not an A=A platform.

    There is a ton I do in Google – Docs, Calendar, Contacts, Search, Navigation – that I would not or cannot do in Facebook.

    I think a big part of Google+ is eventually getting people using it without even knowing they’re using it. Android is a huge part of this, and the mobile smartphone and tablet movement – as widespread as it is already – is still just in its infancy. If Google+ becomes – like Maps/Navigation – a basic function of Android, in some way integrating into Contacts and Gmail seamlessly, it’s going to thrive. 

    How many people think/know they’re using “Google Maps” when navigating on their Android phone? They don’t – they just know “my phone has a navigation system”. If sharing a webpage with contacts/circles via Google+ is set up to happen the same way…

    Google is aiming to not just be a social network, but to be – in some form – everything. Facebook is just a social network. 

    Which of those is the superior strategy is an unknown, and there’s no reason both can’t thrive, although I think Google is in better shape here, because of Mobile. The mobile user still has to actively decide to go use Facebook. This may not become the case with Google+.

    So…while I think you’re probably right “today”, for me it’s a bit short-sighted.

  • I agree with Brian. The issue is not the content but the connections and community. Unless Google can find a way to steal all your friends off of Facebook and force them to use Google+, it’s going to be difficult and I probably don’t want to maintain two different communities, too much work but we shall see….

  • I haven’t gotten my invite yet, but I do believe G+ could have a chance.  Android could play a major role in how G+ is received. I’m sure Google is already plotting how to integrate the service into the device. 
    I don’t see how people keep up with friends on Facebook when they have an enormous list. G+ could be the thing that brings your friends list back to reality by providing you a more intimate relationship with the people you connect with most. I’m a big Android fan so for someone like myself G+ wouldn’t require me to go out of my way to use it. I’m sure Google calculated that into the equation. 

  • Mark,

    You’ve seemed to touch a sore spot with some. I guess people missed that this wasn’t a review of the product, rather a musing on the reasons why Google+ will not “take away” those who use Facebook. I’m on Google+ and I do like it, but it won’t beat Facebook (and I hate Facebook). The only demographic I see Google+ “stealing” is the professional. That circles feature? It makes things easy in some ways. Hangouts? That’s a useful feature and probably the most attractive of them all for everyone.

    Will Google+ attracted a large following? Of course. It’s Google. But it won’t put much of a dent into Facebook. Not at this time, not with the way Google+ is right now. I can see that changing. It just isn’t now.

  • Karen Bice

    Interesting post, Mark. Everyone’s needs are different so to each his own. I agree with what you’re saying about emotional investment and time. I frequently ask myself who are these people who have the time to invest in every new platform or app that comes along? I haven’t checked out Google+ and don’t plan to anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever. The likelihood that I will though is pretty low as I don’t use Google products in-depth.

    Anyway, several issues that relate to this in a way for me is LinkedIn and the companies it’s cut off for TOS violations. And, a debate had already been going back and forth by career experts about the “death” of job boards. I’ve seen some good arguments for both sides. However, as a job hunter, what value do job boards and LinkedIn offer me? In the past (prior to the economic downturn), job boards were a major source of finding employment for me. When I would post my resume, I received many relevant responses within a short time and found employment. In the current job market, the only responses I received from job boards were for positions I was not qualified for or had no interest in (spam). Like most people, my time is valuable and I have to decide which platforms offer me the best options for my time (and money). And, the old adage, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, is now impossible to apply towards social media because as fast as technology changes it is now impossible to keep up with it all.

    The value I receive from LinkedIn is much more than I receive on job boards. Why would I want to waste my time updating job board profiles with the result of only getting responses that talk about the joys of franchising (franchising is not cheap) or working for commission selling insurance (I don’t have sales experience and this is not an interest of mine)? And, I have no interest in aggregating my FB profile with Branchout and Beknown, etc. My FB profile is more of a personal platform that for several reasons I don’t want merged with FB, nor do I want my data shared. That’s probably another issue in itself.

    LinkedIn is a place where I have my experience and skills outlined, my resume and excel admin support project tracker uploaded,  where I can post and share updates, where I can connect  and engage with a broad range of people in different industries, connect with internal and external corporate recruiters, connect with other admins, find interesting groups to join, read interesting profiles, etc, etc. There is much more one can do on LI as you know, but time is short.

    Sorry for long comment, Mark. I usually try to keep my comments short, but your post hit a nerve. 🙂

  • SteelToad

    Facebook was the first social media platform, introduced when the internet was newly released on the public and people went to it, and it alone … I read that somewhere on the internets

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  • Really.  I have a lot more experience than the story of a 17 year old. I simply used that as an illustration. I have been in business nearly 30 years, the last 10 in some form of Internet marketing. I have advanced degrees in marketing and applied behavioral sciences and I teach social media marketing at the college level.

    Let’s also be clear, while “most” blogs are written to elicit comments, mine isn’t and if you stick around a few weeks you’ll see that for yourself.

    So, having established the fact that I am going on more than the word of a 17 year old, let me say that we are in agreement that the success will be derived by the value exceeding the switching costs.

    Also, let me say that in general I dislike Facebook. I don;t trust them because of the privacy issues and I hate the user interface. I’m hoping Google will offer stiff competition despite their legacy of failure.

    So we agree that this is a needed development, good for competition and dependent on switching costs. See how we can have a discussion without name calling?  That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

    I previously wrote a post describing an economic argument that FB is more valuable than your house. Does that seem bold? Yet people will easily change a house for a better location, a different style or a host of reasons. The switching cost for a house is arguably lower than the switching cost for Facebook, right?  I mean people pick up and move everyday.

    Whether this is a new entry by Google or whoever, do you think the switching value, right out of the box, will be the equivalent of your house?  Of course not.  Will it be enough to unseat Facebook?  Of course not.  Will it find a niche? Sure.  Will it be useful? Of course. Will it beat FB some day?  Who knows?  They are going to need to bring a ton of marketing money, even more expertise, insnaely great features that FB will be unable to match (nearly impossible?) and a much better job explaining a value proposition which seems unclear, even to supporters.

    Let’s meet back here in a year and see who’s right.  I have been wrong and I admit it when I do.  I appreciate your thoughtful comment and look forward to your less derogatory contributions in the future.

  • Thanks for the passionate and thought-provoking comment Karen.

  • I welcome the debate … especially among those who have actually read the post!  I think some are letting emotions outweigh the fundamentals of economics and consumer behavior. Is anybody going to march in and kill FB?  Only with a ton of marketing money and insanely great value that is unique and sustainable.  I’m skeptical any company is going to offer that out of the box, and I like Google by the way despite their legacy of failure in this space. I think it’s a practical perspective, not an emotional one. But I can see why people get emotional, especially if they don;t take the time to process what I’ve written. Thanks.

  • Excellent point Alvin. Thanks for contributing this important view.

  • I was responding to the early postualtions that Google + is a Facebook killer.  That’s what drove the commentary. I’m not suggesting that it couldn’t be great, successful, useful, and as you say thrive. I’m only saying that is unlikely to kill FB.

    I disagree that FB is not trying to be everything. In fact for many people, it already is.

    We’ll see how it shakes out. Thanks for your excellent comment, Brian!

  • Interesting… I have read and re-read the comments and can’t find a place where there has been an instance of “name calling”, other than when I referred to you as an “effective community leader.” 🙂  And all blogs are written to elicit comments and spur discussion.  That is their value proposition. Those that aren’t are called “journals”. Your credentials are impressive.  That was never in question.  You obviously have a qualified and reasoned opinion (despite the fact I may think it is wrong)

    We haven’t even touched on the issue of social media saturation and the fact that FB has ALREADY been losing net subscribers month-over-month since March/April in the most developed markets.  The reasons for that could be the subject of another post, especially since FB isn’t exactly forthcoming with WHO those subscribers are (in terms of demographics).  The point is, they are not infallible. 

    To say that no one will ever unseat FB is short-sighted in my opinion – I am hard-pressed to name an example of that ever happening in any (non-monopolized/un-subsidized) industry.  There is always someone waiting for the incumbent to be too big, bloated, or outdated to keep up.  The jury is out on whether or not G+ is that player.  Even those of us lucky enough to get a sneak-peek haven’t seen the tip of the iceberg of this service yet.

    FB will be unseated by someone eventually… I am not sure what is left to discuss there as that was my main point (as compared to your “party is over” point of view in the post).  We should meet back here in a year and re-visit the state of the social media landscape.  Will G+ be the winner by then? Probably not… Will the landscape be different? Absolutely.

  • “My guess is that you are writing a comment-bait post on the days headline to boost your ad rates” 
    … That just pisses me off quite frankly.  That is the name-calling I was referring to.  I write about what interests me and what I think my audience will like to read. I’m a conversation starter and this was a reasoned explanation, even if we disagree. 

    And my ad rates have nothing to do with comments by the way. In fact, if you look at my ads, half of them are charities I give away for free.

    In my article I said FB would be “entrenched as the king of social networking sites for a long time”  That is not forever. Of course they’re fallible, especially on the privacy issues (which I covered on another post).  But they are also a smart incumbent flush with cash with incredibly involved consumers. Unless they screw up on privacy, somebody is going have to come up with truly disruptive technology covered with patents. Any way, I’m repeating myself.

    I think it is safe to say the landscape will be different in a year. Let’s hope so. 

  • I think this is key. Facebook WILL respond and take away some of the advantage that G+ has with a few of its features.

  • I like most of the Facebook interface, and the whole Farmville argument is silly. Some want it (a lot of people apparently) and others don’t. I don’t…so I blocked all of those game apps. Done. I haven’t seen anything about Farmville in my newsfeed for ages. As far as I know, it might not even exist anymore.

    And for G+ to succeed and bring a lot of people over, they will eventually have to allow for a lot of third party apps to add functionality, whether they are games or not.

  • Mark – first off kudos to you for actively engaging throughout the comments.  That’s more than most authors do.

    I think Google+ is a risk to Facebook’s position as the frontrunner for a few reasons.  The first, is that the basic premise of the platform – the social circle – is far closer to mirroring social behaviour than the act of ‘friending’ everyone.  On G+ my acquaintances remain acquaintances.  My friends can be parceled out into those whom I’d share everything and those whom I just like to have a good time with.  Folks I know who are into sci-fi and fantasy are not going to have to see me prattle on about social media marketing and the folks who are interested in my thoughts on the latter need not be bothered by the former.

    The video hangout is a new element and from what I’ve heard Google has put a lot of thought into the social queues that people would give showing they want to talk and translating it to the platform. 

    But the real reason why G+ can win is that the platform doesn’t need to suck people in and hold them there to make Google succeed.  Facebook requires that you spend greater and greater amounts of time within Facebook in order to profit.  They make their money by serving you up ads … generally pointing you to some internal page for a brand.  Google makes their money when people use the Internet.  They won’t have to interrupt my stream with a ‘sponsored post’ or artificially plop a ‘trending topic’ to get my ad revenue.  As I follow links on G+ or watch vids shared by my friends, I am bound to come across a Google adwords.  Thus Goolge can be open with their platform in a way that Facebook can not.  No.  Facebook will not likely make it easy to export my contacts.  And that sort of possessiveness is what will eventually drive their users away.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I really like this reasoned postion Rob. You bring up some excellent points and I learned from you today.

    I’m not sure I understand the distinction between the economic models however.  I read somewhere that Google makes 99% of its revenue from ads.  There is probably some diversity through FB revenue streams but I’m also guessing the model gets down to ads. Both platforms depend on high user interface, which leads to targeted customer information, which leads to attractive advertising opportunities, which leads to revenue. Won’t both platforms be highly dependent on this?   Thanks!

  • I had not heard about Google +. We shall wait and see. Anything is possible but facebook is still going to continue down the long stretch. Will be very interesting to watch. In any case, it’ll be hard to overtake facebook.

    Jazz Songs

  • Google’s adword platform is not limited to Google properties, but a plethora of third party blogs, online magazines, news sites and other platforms.  So unlike Facebook which only has opportunity to profit when you are still within the Facebook platform, Google can profit when I send you off to a link on a blog, or a discussion in some forum, or share a link to a video.  That is the vital difference between the two.   Facebook wins only when you use Facebook, but Google wins by you using the Internet.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks for taking the time to comment today!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Ok, I see what you mean now. Thanks very much for the explanation. Great point Rob.

  • Nickrowney

    Well there are still a lot of people in the world who aren’t on, don’t like, have just been born….. the game is far from over my friend.



  • Google is an amazing tool, Facebook is another amazing tool, they are different though.

  • We’ll see how it plays out. Interesting times!

  • Agreed. The competition is needed and it will be interestign to see how it plays out! Thanks Nick.

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  • Humans are fickle! It wouldn’t surprise me if people transition just because they can. But not unless it goes mobile and super quickly. 

     Mr Teen was gettubg bored of Facebook and so are a lot of his mates. But the mobile app is ever present in their hands. That’s my litmus test. 

  • We’ll have to hang on and see!  Keep tabs of that teen to watch the trend!

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  • Morbitrecords

    If you havent tried it and you would like to, hit me up  [email protected] with your email address, and I will invite you, only so many so get on it.  Then come back here and carry on the convo!

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  • But again, you would have to join and visit G+ b4 you make false statements, now wouldn’t you? 🙂

  • Byron Fernandez

    How can one intelligently comment on a party (blog post, platform) without having attended (read, experienced)? Is that a new social more we haven’t caught onto yet? Curious

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  • Omaha Promos, LLC

    I’ve been thinking what you’re saying; I don’t see G+ taking off despite Google’s best intentions and deep self-promotion pockets. Buzz crashed and burned… I don’t see G+ sustaining flight either.

  • Real Estate Web Design Delhi

    The going has been tough for google+ to beat facebook! real estate web design Delhi

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  • Katherine

    I completely agree with your post about this. I have tried to set up a Google+ but I never did anything but add my Dad into the Family circle and never signed back on. It was too much trouble for something that I basically already have. You hit it on the head when you said that Facebook is “their online home.” While some people are later than others (like my parents) to become involved with social media Facebook is usually the first thing people create. Facebook is an information source for most everything and a huge source of entertainment and release. Nothing can replace Facebook because it is such an established site, and as you said lifestyle.

  • While very much doubting even a student’s ability to refuse between USD 500-5,000 it could also be argued that Android, which is to Google what Facebook is to that student. This is not to say there are no lessons for Google to glean while establishing Google+. FB has encompassed all aspects of modern living and totally consume the users or members.

    Google has a similar effect when it comes to search and use of connecting platforms like Gmail, Google Talk and Picasa. The true test of how encompassing Facebook has come will be their rumored phone, which like android, makes it 277365.25 access for members.

    I would say that Facebook is on top now mostly because of either privacy concerns arising from using Google’s platforms, or because Google is the upstart when it comes to social networking. An interesting space to watch either way.

  • Thanks for the very enlightening commentary Sam. Much appreciated.

  • Haha is all I have to say for all the flack you took for this post… Surprise Surprise – Mark was right (again).

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