The battle is on.
With more than 700 million active users worldwide, Facebook proves to be hard to surpass. But other critics point out that Google’s large user base across its different products and its proprietary technology will make Google+ a formidable opponent. How do these two social networking sites stack up against each other?
Google reached a billion unique visitors in May, but Google+ alone has about five million users as of today, according to Paul Allen, the founder of Ancestry.com, who estimated Google+ members using US census data and the number of Google+ members with certain last names. Allen has also noted that Google+ is “growing like crazy.”
The Circles innovation is the key feature that distinguishes Google+ from Facebook. It allows the user to fine tune which group of friends get what information update. Users can share something with one circle, while keeping it hidden from others. “It’s a hybrid of friending and following that could get difficult to wrap one’s head around. You can put anyone in a Circle, and they can choose to reciprocate or not,” wrote The Washington Post.
Huddle allows users in specific circles to group message each other. The Location feature gives users the option to include their current location to each post.
Sparks lets users notify Google+ of their interests, and in return, Sparks will send the user information on the topic in the form of movies, articles, etc., on a regular basis. Google Alerts has the same function, but Sparks allows users to share information with their friends more easily.
Google doesn’t cinsider Google+ to be a seprarate product, according to CNN. “Rather, the company says it is an extension of things you can already do on Google. A toolbar will be available atop all Google sites, and users can download an Android or Chrome application to get notifications and share content. For instance, a user could be in Google Maps, and share directions with a group,” said CNN.
Ryan Singel of Wired notes it is exactly this toolbar that empowered Google:
“What might turn out to be Google+’s real killer app isn’t a feature inside Google+. It is the new black bar that sits atop every Google property including the Google.com search page and Gmail accounts. But the real key is that on the right side, you have a box that turns bright red when you have a notification from Google+. If someone has commented or reshared your post, or added you to a circle, the box lights up. When you click on it, a dropdown box appears–and in the case that someone has added you to a circle, you see their profile pic and with a single click add them to one–or more–of your circles, hide them or outright block them. And even easier, if someone comments on a post you have made or comments after you do on someone else’s post, you can reply directly from the notification drop down window, without ever leaving the other Google page you are on.”
Facebook currently has about 700 million users, and this is its main asset. Facebook users have already created their own networks of friends on the site, and it is a pain for some to switch over to another social network site.
Since early July, all Facebook members, and gamers in particular, are able to use Facebook Credits, a virtual currency. This is Facebook’s another advantage that will boost its membership and loyalty.
“Facebook Credits is a virtual currency that enables fast and easy transactions across games on Facebook. With Facebook Credits, people enter their payment information once and can buy, earn and spend safely across lots of different games,” says Deborah Liu, platform marketing manager at Facebook.
It is still not clear as to who will win the social media war, but one thing holds true: social media users are the ultimate beneficiaries as the two rivals continue to improve their products in order to win over customers.