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“Google + a Facebook Killer?” Question Answered

So, Google comes up with this fancy “Plus” thing. Everybody rushed to take a look-see, only to be locked out as the big G slammed the doors on the masses to slow the flood to a trickle.

So, Google comes up with this fancy “Plus” thing. Everybody rushed to take a look-see, only to be locked out as the big G slammed the doors on the masses to slow the flood to a trickle.

The first week was like a Black Friday rush on sales. For the first time, iPhone users frowned at their fancy gadgets and longed for an Android just so they could use the brand spankin’ new Google + app. G+ invites were being sold on eBay for a paltry $25 – $100 (depending on the seller), guaranteed immediate delivery*.

*Most sales have dropped to a starting low, low price of $0.99.

In the First 24 Hours, Speculations, Facts and Fallacies Run Amuck

Over 18,000 pages showed up on the Internet in the first 24 hours that specifically spoke about Google’s new baby. Topics were varied:

The Wall Street Journal wrote a short piece about Google’s Facebook copycat, saying the company “appears to like crushing the dreams of soon-to-be-public tech companies.”

ReadWriteWeb offered up a piece after scoping out Google’s new social digs, calling Plus “really cool” and a “super ambitious effort”. The well-written initial Google Plus review by Marshall Kirkpatrick is a basic once-over. Interesting to this reader was the fact that he ended it with, “Can you imagine hundreds of millions of people leaving Facebook for this and sticking with it? That’s a very tall order.”

-And who wouldn’t expect Mashable to throw in their two cents? They did, with a piece called, “Google’s Latest Social Network – Google Launches Google + To Battle Facebook”. Again, it’s a great “once over”, with comments interspersed throughout from Vic Gundotra (G’s senior vice pres). Again, the most interesting thing is the mention of G+ as Google’s answer to Facebook.

In the Conclusion, author Ben Parr writes,

“No matter what Google says, Google+ is the company’s response to the rise of Facebook. The two companies are in heated competition for talent, page views and consumers. While Google controls the search market and has a strong presence on mobile with Android, it hasn’t been able to crack the social nut.

The Washington Post talks about it taking aim at Facebook. says G+ swears it’s more trustworthy (than FB, of course!), while Business Insider says it’s just like everything else and no big deal.

Now That Everyone Has Weighed In…

Everyone seems sure that Facebook’s death is Google’s goal in launching G +… or maybe it’s Twitter… or maybe Skype. It makes sense in a way, right? After all, social seems to be one of the few corporate pies Google consistently missed and had yet to get its proverbial fingers in, doesn’t it?

Well, now that everyone has weighed in with the “Facebook killer” theory, let me ask a question:

If G+ is only to kill Facebook, why make Google employees bonuses dependent on the success of this venture? Is it just about ad revenue percentages? predicts FB ad revenues to reach 21.6%, while Google’s is expected to be at a paltry 12.6%. – But is this the only reason for Google Plus?

Google Plus One…

Google Plus One button
Google Plus One button

In an article discussing the ad revenue forecasts as well as the introduction of Google’s +1 button, Mashable’s Jolie O’Dell begins to open up a slightly different point of view. “Google’s +1 may pit the search giant against the social network in four key areas,” she writes. The top key area is “New User Acquisition”. Keep in mind – this is a full three months before Google Plus was announced:

Making a Google Profile a requirement for those addictive little +1 buttons is a smart move on Google’s part. It may not match Facebook’s 500 million-strong membership when the feature rolls out to all users, but it has a good shot at vastly increasing levels of profile adoption.”

+1 rolls out and people (somewhat) just shrug and go on. Too similar to Facebook’s “Like” button, with nothing really attached to it. Oh – right, except that Google profile you have to have if you want to use the +1 button

In a one-two punch, Google then lays out G+, which, incidentally, connects +1 buttons and Google profiles. Don’t forget that there are now more Google profiles than there had been, due to the +1 implementation. –And, for those that didn’t care enough about +1 to get a profile, there’s now G+, which also needs a profile to use.

…and a Slightly Different Point of View

At this point, more people have Google profiles, and more people are using their previously dusty profile, in order to participate on G+. Plus gathered 10 million users in 2 weeks, by the way, and is currently serving up more than 1 billion items per day.

Although this is a “never seen before” statistic, it isn’t the true success of Google Plus. So, what is? Feast your eyes on the following three comments plucked from the SERPs (on Google):

+Tom Anderson: “In the past, I’ve used Google Docs mainly because I wanted web access to files. I’ve never collaborated on it, and now I’m hooked on doing that. Google+ is making me use Google products that I formally only had a slight interest in. In the past week, I’ve started to toy with Blogger & Picasa. Why switch to Gmail, I used to think? Yahoo will do just fine. I’ve been using Gmail more and more.”

+Dominique Johnson: “This is pretty cool! I must say I have found myself using Google more & more since I got on my G+ platform.”

@orli : “Also I must say that Google Plus excites me because of the extensive options and its future connection to other Google services (Gmail, Calendar, Places, etc).”

Finally, let’s read a little of’s post, “The One Google Plus Feature Facebook Should Fear”. Author Nick O’Neil opens the post with, “I’ve found the one feature that could take away from Facebook where it’s most dominant: Time on the site.”

However, here’s the really important “take away” from Nick’s post:

“To be honest, my gut reaction after using Google Plus was initially, ‘Why on earth would anybody switch to this from Facebook?’

However, when I loaded up Google Finance as I do every morning, I suddenly realized that I was asking the wrong question. The reality is that users won’t have the option of not using Google Plus.

Google already has more users than Facebook, over one billion. They aren’t going to suddenly leave Facebook in droves, they’re just going to spend more time on all the sites in Google’s network. That big notifications box in the top right of all Google sites is the reason why.”

So What Is Google Really Aiming For?

Humans are intrinsically lazy – as in, most of us will willing adapt if that adaptation is easy. With Google + and “ease of use” in mind, please follow this last thought trail:

Google + Image

From within G+ Hangouts, you can:

  • have a private “face-to-face” business meeting
  • watch videos together on YouTube (Google property)
  • give a presentation and discuss
  • co-produce a spreadsheet or document live (with Google Docs)

From within G+ Circles you can:

  • Share sensitive documents to a private corporate “room”, or circle and lock down resharing (document control)

From within the G+ Mobile App, you can:

  • Conduct meetings or continue private sharing (currently still only available on Android, a Google produced phone. It’s earmarked for Apple as well, which means snagging some of Apple’s market for Google’s products).

From within G+ Photos, you can:

  • Create and share a presentation (using Picasa, a Google product)

In short, Google is swiftly integrating a large amount of its products into its new social networking productivity platform. It isn’t Facebook that needs to be watching its coat tails. It’s Microsoft. It’s Apple. It’s every productivity suite you’ve ever come across.

For those that need visual convincing (i.e. pictures), we came across this great presentation on, you guessed it, G+. By +Vincent Wong, It’s also a fantastic example of how a presentation can be created and shared.

The little black bar at the top of the screen takes you to your:

You can use it for shopping and quick checkout, for finding recipes, for finding sales and researching scholarly write ups. It’s a single click from your Blogger blog, or photo editing on Picnik. With Fusion Tables, you can create data maps and charts. In short, there’s a lot you can do with Google, and it’s all connected to G+.


Google Plus isn’t a Facebook, Twitter or other social network killer. Yes, they want to get into social, but as a means to bigger and better things. Google wants the cloud, and it wants to take you (and your friends, and your friends friends friends) with it.

– And you know what? By the time they’re done tinkering with G+ after all the feedback, you might not find that such a bad offer.

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19 Responses

  1. Who would of ever thought that Google would have some competition. Facebook right now is dominating and Google wants a piece of the action and is a little upset that they aren’t top dog anymore.

  2. I feel that the people still using and loving Facebook will ‘dip their toes’ with Google +, feel that it isn’t social enough for them and will return back to their blue and white comfort zones.

    Those looking for a more crisp, professional and organised social/business experience will try Google + and will make the switch full time. Those who will move to google + now are the same people who moved to a ‘cold and quiet’ Facebook months before the SS. Myspace ran aground.

  3. I don’t think that Google+ is turning out to be a “Facebook killer” at all. In fact, from my point of view it seems like a failure. Facebook is used for “real people” stuff — playing games, just talking, whatever. It seems like all Google+ members do is promote themselves to one another. Have you ever seen any real value from a +1 button click? Probably not, but I bet you get some traffic from Facebook.

  4. Well done. It seems to me that they are hitting the sweetspot between Twitter and Facebook. Enhancing things that Facebook did ‘ok’ or not well at all (Circles, Hangouts).

    With 750Million Facebookers, it’s likely to be a good matchup for a while.


  5. Not to seem cynical or pessimistic about this but what is the point if it’s not to challenge Facebook? Surely this is Google’s attempt to claw back some of the masses of people who spend the vast majority of their time on the internet, on Facebook. Granted, it might be different in it’s layout and features, but the simple fact remains, this is a direct competitor to Facebook and is launching Google into the social networking world with the aim of establishing them as the number one site… no company goes in to settle for second.

    From what I’ve written, it may seem like I’m opposed to Google + but this is far from the case. Facebook, I find, has become too messy. Boxes everywhere, poorly integrated ads, apps and writing, less is more and this has certainly been forgotten by the Facebook team. Google + seems to be going down the road of having a clean and fresh layout and this really appeals to me. Whether or not in the long run Facebook will be dislodged as the front runner in the social networking world, only time will tell, but from what I’ve experienced so far, this isn’t a bad attempt by Google and I will certainly give it time to grow on me.

    1. Hi, David – Thanks for the comment. Level343 is still up in the air about G+; we can honestly say we’re split down the middle in terms of whether it’s a platform to use or not 🙂

      Surely this is Google’s attempt to claw back some of the masses of people who spend the vast majority of their time on the internet, on Facebook.

      Absolutely it is. However, this doesn’t negate the idea we’ve put out, that they’re aiming for something much bigger. When looking from a future-facing perspective, we can see a ton of possibilities, and not just from how G+ turns out. The key, it seems, is the integration – or, to be more exact, the level of integration. Of course, it remains to be seen whether G+ can stand on it’s own, whether it will wipe out FB, whether Google will create a massive business suite (our hypothesis) or whether it will all crash and burn. It’s exciting, though, and fun to speculate.

      Whether or not in the long run Facebook will be dislodged as the front runner in the social networking world, only time will tell,

      Exactly – but, we don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say that G+ will end up getting a lot of the people that are tired of FB. If you track the comments in G+, you’ll see many who have already closed their FB accounts and posted “I’ll I’ve been waiting for is for something else to come along. I’m tired of FB’s [insert your chosen explicative]. It remains to be seen!

      Thanks again for your comment!

  6. I’m really looking forward to the day Google opens up their G+ API so I can simultaneously post an update on G+, Twitter and Facebook. The problem with having so many fragmented social media networks is that no one has the time to update all 3 forcing users to choose one and stick with it to the bitter end.

  7. I am also a Google+ “convert” and really liking the level of conversation. Twitter is the quick way to connect, and Facebook, well, maybe it’s because I’m connected to too many non-search peeps. Google+ is quickly becoming the go-to place to learn, listen and occasionally share.

    And Google is using Plus as much more than a social network but a relationship and behavior aggregator. Think rel=me and rel=author. There’s a lot of value in the connections. Heck, some of us are starting to see referrals in analytics! So it’s Google+ FTW IMHO.

  8. I’m impressed with Google+. It does make Google stuff easier to use. Now if they would only make it sync with Google Apps accounts, rather than a secondary GMail account ….

  9. This is GREAT — the most comprehensive and useful article I have seen yet on G+! Lots of ideas here that I’ll have to chew on for a while.

    I agree with you and Tom Anderson that the key is the potential of having all these Google tools work together. I still don’t support the Vincent Wong vision moving everyone’s documents to the cloud …(making us all vulnerable to Anonymous or some neo-Luddite gang.) But having G+, Google Reader, gmail, calendar, and the other items on your list integrated together ? Yeah… that would be cool.

    1. Something I didn’t even remember until after the post went out (and I think it supports the whole “To the Cloud!” vision, is the Chromebook.

      I thought, when I first read about them, that they were all cloud-based, but apparently they come with offline versions of the online productivity suites. If they’re anything like the desktop version of Picasa, though, it might as well be the same kind of thing. The integration between Picasa desktop and Picasa web is fantastic.

      I know this is just one of the opinions out there; nobody will really know until it’s all over and done with, and Google owns the world. lol But it’s definitely possible, and plausible.

      Thanks for the comment, Glenn – So glad you enjoyed reading!

  10. I think G+ is just what you’ve said it will be. Another option to choose from. Seems like they finally got social right, or are at least on the right path.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Josh – that they opened G+ up to major user feedback is a definite “plus” in my book. Honestly, I can’t wait to see how it all turns out in the end. We’re in some exciting times, m’friend – exciting times!

  11. I think this is one, carefully thought out article which, if it were a debate, would win me over.

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