Facebook has been the Goliath of social media for the past few years, but is that about to change? Google + gains 25 million users since July.
Google+ is the new social network from Google, Inc; it was launched on June 28th 2011. It has the features of many social networks, including profiles. However, Google+ also focuses on targeting communications within subsets of a user’s network with Google Circles. Circles are small groups of people that a user can share with under titles such as “co-workers” and “family”. Google+ also has a specific section for multimedia, including a built in editor. Finally, Google+ has Hangouts – a group chat feature.
If it sounds like Google+ is seeking to solve some of the classic gripes about Facebook, that’s because it is. There’s no doubt that Google is trying to take on Facebook. So, how’s it doing so far?
In its first month, pretty darned well. Since its launch in June, Google has gained over 25 million users – one of them being Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Many experts are waiting; is the initial burst in users driven by curiosity or has Google created a real competitor for Facebook?
For investors, the stakes are high. Some say that Facebook may go public as early as 2011, and Google appears to be its first major competitor. Of course, 25 million users is nothing in comparison to Facebook’s 750 million users. However, the number of users on a social networking site is not a guarantee if longevity. Consider this: in 2006, MySpace had three times as many users as Facebook. In 2011, it sold for a mere $30 million.
The big question is whether or not Google+ divide social networking userse. An article in the Vancouver Sun nicely summarizes the math: Facebook should pull in advertising revenue of $4.05 billion this year, according to eMarketer. Rival research house ComScore says its U.S. users spend 434 minutes a month each on the site. It has 750 million users globally.That makes each minute spent on Facebook today worth roughly about 10 cents, excluding revenue earned from peripheral sources such as third-party games or people buying Facebook credits.”
Will Google+ threaten Facebook’s time? It’s difficult to say. Some say that Google+ easily improves on some of Facebook’s problems – in particular the Circles feature. David Hornik of August Capital told Reuters that “for some time now I have been pitched on businesses that attempt to solve the groups problem: how do you share information efficiently with small groups of people.” He continued: “Google+ does a nice job of allowing more purposeful sharing.”
However, the big question is not so much which social network is better, but whether one will necessarily take out the other. In the Vancouver Sun article, Lou Kerner – an analyst at Wedbush, notes that “it’s not like for every minute on Google+, you spend a minute less on Facebook.” He suggests: “You might even spend more”
Only time will tell if Google can maintain its momentum, but if it can, users are likely to see the ultimate battle of social media titans.