When it comes to social networking and search, the two big internet activities are dominated by the 800 lb gorilla in each of their respective rooms. Facebook has all but won social networking and will turn thousands of people into instant millionaires once it goes public. Google allows Bing and the others to stick around in search just so they aren’t technically considered a monopoly, but they are in most aspects.
While Facebook considers getting into search, Google has already made their move into social. Did it work (they say 14th time is a charm)? Will it ever work? Are they gaining traction? Are they just an oddity to look at because of the little “g” next to the name? Let’s look at some of the facts before we decide.
Here is some research done by Temple University on the subject:
Age and gender
Young and male. That seems to be the general demographic of the average Google+ user. For Facebook and it’s nearly-one-billion users, the demographics are much more spread out with women more prevalent and age boundaries apparently non-existent.
“I joined and left,” said Jackie Teller at Panama City Toyota. “I came back again a few months later, tried it a few days, and left again. There just aren’t enough of my friends on it.”
Despite having over 100 million users, Google+ still suffers from little-guy syndrome. They simply do not have the mindshare that’s necessary to sustain what they’re trying to do. It’s still early and things have been looking of late, but unless they’re able to get more users quickly, they’ll start to lose the old ones more rapidly, as it is, they can barely keep people on the site…
Time on site
This one isn’t even close. Many people live their lives through Facebook while Google+ can barely keep them around long enough to register them as a visit. The lack of regular content is their biggest issue.
“When I take a picture, I know I’m posting it to Facebook,” said Tammy Davis from Dell. “To be honest I’ve never thought about posting a picture to Google. Can you even do that?”
Geek vs business
Over time, Google will be able to get more businesses to use Google+ as it migrates to control more of the search component. Google Places will eventually be replaced by Google+ Brand Pages and businesses will be forced to get involved at some level. For Facebook, they’re not being forced as many stumble through attempts at Facebook marketing with various degrees of success.
“I get a lot of traction on my Facebook pages,” said Les Barnes of Wisconsin Cheese. “I post updates, interact with our fans, and try to establish engagement. We’re active on Google as well but it’s different. We’re shooting for search help there versus engagement with our customers. I know that people will find out Google+ page eventually because Google will point them there but I get about a comment a week there while on Facebook I’m talking to people all day.”
Businesses are all over Facebook while Google+ is still bringing in the tech-savvy “geek” brands. Others will follow, but for now it’s simply geek-chic.
Google+ has a ways to go. Their strategy seems to be focusing less on beating Facebook at social networking and more on creating a different kind of search and social hybrid destination. They continue to claim that networking isn’t their goal but the advertising says something different. As they rolled out changes yesterday, here’s the video that went along with it. Does this look like a company that doesn’t care about networking?