Google’s new Facebook competitor Google+ seems to be faring much better than the search giant’s previous attempt at being social, Buzz. The new presence is still in invite-only mode, but already boasts millions of users. But with Facebook as well as Twitter having such a large market share of the social media scene already, is there any room for Google+? So far the answer seems to be: kind of.
Facebook has over 600 million users, Twitter over 200 million. Google can’t afford to not convert a large slice of those users with the marketing budget they have for Plus. Well, actually they can afford it, but it would certainly hurt their reputation with the Facebook crowd if they had a second failed social attempt (though who knows how many Facebook users have ever even heard of Buzz).
In general terms, Facebook is the social service for the “everybodies”, even the non-tech-savvy users. I can count on one hand the number of people I know in my generation that don’t have a Facebook account. And then at least for me, Twitter is for a more social media savvy group that follow various celebrities and Web personas. As opposed to Facebook, I only know a handful of people that I’ve met in person that use Twittrr. I follow people that I’ve met online, Internet celebrities, and various brands and products. I think part of the reason for this is because Twitter reveals less personal information, and you can even be anonymous if you like, whereas Facebook is the real you and typically has personal information like your locations, work, etc. I personally look at it as Twitter is where I want as many people as possible following me even if I don’t know them, and with Facebook I don’t want anyone I’m not familiar with.
So with that divide clear, where does Google+ fit? I will tell you now that I don’t have the answer, but it’s interesting to speculate about. Right now it seems to be floating much closer to the Twitter crowd; I have over 200 people in my circles, and only a few are people I am also friends with on Facebook. Google+ also seems to have more similar functionality to Twitter, with everything being public by default and having non-mutual followings rather than mutual friends like Facebook. This Twitter-like aspect combined with profiles and photo albums truly make it a Facebook-Twitter mashup. This seems to be the opposite of what Google really wants, which is to convert Facebook users. Perhaps others are having different experiences and have more real-life friends on the service.
The real question is, is there room for another social service? Will people continue to use Facebook alongside Google+, or will converts from Facebook stop being active on the most popular social service?
By the way, if you are on Google+, feel free to add me, and if you’re still looking for an invite, post a comment below and I’ll send one your way.