Google+ implemented a number of changes today that give the social network more parity with some of Facebook’s products. The most prominent new feature is the ability to control how much content from each Circle is shown in a user’s stream, similar to what Facebook allows users to do for individual friends.
Relevance in the feed is one of the most critical factors for any network and will be especially important in the ongoing competition between Facebook and Google. Facebook has gone back and forth over the years, sometimes giving users granular control, other times favoring algorithms. Google is known for its use of algorithms, but seems to be testing human curation potential with its new sliders.
In 2007, Facebook provided sliders for users to indicate the type of content they wanted to see in the News Feed. Users could also list friends they wanted to see more or fewer updates from. Now Facebook provides controls on individual profile pages, giving users the option to subscribe to or opt-out of different types of updates. Here is the old interface:
Google+ also made improvements for page owners, now allowing multiple admins and providing notifications about activity on the page. These changes are important for marketers using the site similarly to Facebook pages. Google+ pages now also include a total count of users that have connected with a page by adding it to a circle or clicking +1. This is similar to Facebook displaying total Likes, which has been a major driver for brands to spend money on ads and marketing campaigns to increase their count. By presenting a similar public metric, Google+ gives brands a reason to drive consumers to their pages there.
Other Google+ updates reminiscent of Facebook features include previews of content in the notifications window and a lightbox display for photos. For more details, see Google’s blog post.