A while ago, Erez published a good piece about why he thinks Google+ will overtake Facebook in less than 2 years. While some of his arguments are solid, and I happen to like what Google is doing with Google+, I find it hard to believe that we’ll see Facebook disappearing in as little as two years. In fact, I think it’s going to take way more than one new social network to get rid of the social phenomenon called Facebook.
Before I begin let me just state that I am not against innovation, and I really do like Google+, usually even more than Facebook. But just because we like something better, doesn’t mean it’s going to win. Here is why, in my opinion, Facebook will stick around for a long long time to come.
The Real People Are There
Do you know of many people who don’t have a Facebook account? Whether they rarely use it or spend their entire day updating their status, one way or another, most people we know are using Facebook. And the numbers are only growing. How many people do you know who use Google+? And I don’t mean the opinion leaders or celebrities; I’m talking about the real people, your friends.
True, the Google+ picture changes according to country, but in some countries, like where I live, most people don’t use Google+, even though Gmail is highly popular. So great, I’m on Google+, but who else is there? My news stream is made up of the 4 same people all the time, and all I’m left to do is add to my circles people I don’t even know. But don’t we have Twitter for that?
Facebook Is A Groundbreaker
Say what you want, Facebook was there first. It may not be the first ever social network, but it’s definitely the first one to revolutionize our lives as it did. Nowadays, when people hear of Google+ (and I don’t mean people who hate Facebook anyway), the first thing they ask themselves is “how is this better than Facebook?”. And it doesn’t even matter if Google+ is better than Facebook. The point is that is has to be in order for people to move there. Even Google are pitching Google+ on the grounds of how it compares to Facebook.
The average person has been using Facebook for 3-4 years. Here comes this new service which is the same, but different. Why should he move there? And this very thing will and does stop many people from migrating everything over to Facebook. As long as people don’t do that, Facebook will stick around.
Why Should I Add The Same People Again?
Building on the two previous point, there is the issue of friends we’ve already added on Facebook. Personally, I find it weird to add the same people all over again on a new network. When speaking of close friends, this is not a problem, but what about all those people who are acquaintances, or those you drifted apart from over the years, but still like to follow through Facebook? It’s just too weird to go and add them again on Google+.
This social awkwardness leads many people to have very few people in their circles, which prevents Google+ from really taking off for them. It might be a good place to follow the opinion leaders, but when it comes to your real friends, most people will still go back to Facebook.
Who Doesn’t Know Of Facebook?
Let’s have a little experiment. Call your parents and ask them if they know what Facebook is. Now ask them if they know Google+. What were the answers? This, again, will probably change from country to country, but it all boils down to the fact that everyone knows Facebook. Whether they use it or not, they know about it.
Everyone also knows Google. It’s where you search for things. And although Google does much more than that, people do not think of it as a social network. And until this changes, Facebook is not going anywhere.
Easier To Create An Account
This brings me to the somewhat elaborate process of creating a Google+ account. I know, it seems simple, but what if you don’t already use Google products? Hard to imagine, but some people actually don’t have a Google account. So first, you need to create a Google account.
Now is when you find out you can’t use anything but your full real name. Aliases? Nicknames? Forget it. Full disclosure is the name of Google’s game. Are you under 18? Until not so long ago, you couldn’t even join Google+. It had to be perfect first.
So while it’s really not the end of the world to open a Google account, it’s still much harder to join Google+, especially for people who are not very tech-savvy. Facebook is much less restrictive, and while this might not always be for the best, it’s going to keep it around for a very long time yet.
Does NOT Feel Like Part Of The Web
One of the most common arguments in favor of Google+ is that it integrates with everything and it’s simply part of your web experience. You get notifications no matter which Google page you are on, and when searching for something on Google, you sometimes find Google+ shares before the actual articles. But is this a good thing?
What I like about Facebook is how I can shut it off whenever I want and simply forget it. I can’t do this with Google+. The thing is everywhere. Some people have even closed their account because of the flood of notifications they simply couldn’t get rid of. I don’t want my social network to be part of my e-mail service or part of my search when I work. I want to access it when I’m feeling social, and I want to be able to control it.
Facebook, with all its imitations, at least gives me that.
Facebook is far from perfect. This article is not here to argue why Facebook is better than Google+, but why Google+ will have a very hard time taking over. What do you think? Is Facebook going to stick around for ages to come, or am I completely wrong about this? What do you think is the future of social networking? Share in the comments!