The internet and the influence it has on consumers and businesses is an ever changing, dynamic animal. By now most Americans have joined up one or more Social Media networks. Both Facebook and Twitter are well established staples for the masses. Linkedin offers professionals the opportunity network and establish valueable business connections and is very much a niche social network.
The new kid on the block is Google Plus or G+ as most people know it. G+ has been in limited trial for roughly the last 90 days and joining was by invite only. This past Tuesday Google opened it up to everyone. For my time with G+ ( which was roughly 60 days of the limited trial period) I found to a nice change to Facebook. It was starting fresh and some of the features that G+ has make it easier to organize who sees what in terms of content sharing, posts, images and more. G+ has Circles which allow you to streamline your ” friends ” and in turn specify which Circle(s) will see posts you put up. What I also enjoy about it is that it has a ” Following ” Circle which adds a Twitter like element to G+. I was able to follow people that on Facebook I would never friend request or ” Like ” their fan page. I quickly was following some heavy hitters in the technology world, Larry Page and Sergey Brin from Google, Tom Anderson from Myspace, Pete Cashmore from Mashable. The content and information flow from these folks and as well as peers that I have in the automotive industry has been top-notch. I have really enjoyed my time on G+. Don’t get me wrong you can find content like this New FB Changes all over the web, but with G+ it’s all nice and neatly packaged in a one stop shop.
The past two weeks there have been significant changes with the look and feel of Facebook. Yesterday, Facebook made sweeping changes to the style and layout of news feeds and from what I am hearing from Mashable that is just the tip of the iceberg. The volley between Google and Facebook is getting exciting for those in and around technology.
Some of the notable changes with Facebook leading up to yesterday were privacy features that affect photo tagging, organizing lists ( this feature is basically FB’s Circles), size and styling of photo galleries, making the search bar atop your FB wall static. Most of the moves were in my opinion making FB more like G+. Understandably so. Google has had some failures in Social Media. The Google Wave project was a failure, Google Buzz was getting some buzz before privacy concerns scared most away. Now with G+ and its implications on the way users consume content and share that content with their peers, Facebook has had to make some adjustments. Both companies are top tier tech with arguably some of the best of the best in engineering and programming and both are very much in the early development of their respective life cycles. Google is a bit older and possibly wiser with a start in search that has turned into advertising and Facebook doing social networking better than Myspace, Friendster and the like that have fallen by the wayside.
Over the coming months I anticipate these will continue to strengthen their social platforms on the social front and go head to head to stay ahead of each other. Facebook has a total leg up with 750 million users but Google has seen some rapid growth during the limited trial. And with the strength of the Android platform, Gmail, Google Docs and more it is only a matter of time before those with a gmail account start to migrate over.
I was late to party on social network front in my personal life but I do recall when my peers started to leave myspace in droves for Facebook. I am not bold enough or educated enough to suggest the same will happen with people leaving Facebook to go to G+. I can say this though: these juggernauts plan to reshape and reinvent the way we as consumers use the internet to find businesses, websites, information and each other on the world wide web.
As E-C0mmerce Director for the Colonial Automotive Group I feel it is important that we as an organization recognize the dynamic landscape of the digital age of advertising. It wasn’t too long ago that this whole internet thing was new and AOL was providing us with dial up to access webpages and search on our Netscape browsers with Alta Vista and Lycos. Fast forward 10 years and virtully all those products were gone and Google was standing in their wake. Good bad or indifferent Google and more recently Facebook have entrenched themselves within the digital age that we have grown to know and love. The Social Media Wars are in their infancy and only time will tell where they are headed. I know as an active participant I am going to enjoy the show and hopefully be able to find the best ways to utilize both Facebook and G+ to enhance our relationship with our loyal customers that we have been proudly serving since 1992.
Colonial Automotive Group
Follow me on Google + Dan Fontaine