The most common question we get from people is, “What’s the difference between Google+ and Facebook or Twitter?” Welcome to the second part of our Google+ 101 series as we break down the precise differences of Google+.
Part 2 of 3: What’s the Difference?
Unlike Facebook (but similar to Twitter), a friend you’re attempting to connect with via Google+ is not required to reciprocate that action. Google+ users are able to follow anyone they so choose (creating asymmetric sharing), and cluster these ‘followers’ into custom circles. These circles allow for more personal updates so that relevant messages are sent to the right audience(s) instead of one Facebook post or Tweet sent to hundreds of friends, co-workers and acquaintances at once.
Circles also enable its’ audience to include a single person in as many different circles as an individual desires. For instance – say I have a colleague who is a UGA grad (like me) and plays golf. Since I have circles created for “Co-Workers,” “UGA Grads” and “Golfers” I’m able to add this person to all three. And, when Friday rolls around and I’m looking for a fourth golfer to join my group for the weekend I’m able to send a message only to the group of golfer friends I’ve identified – instead of the same message going to my entire Facebook network.
The Google+ Circles concept represents the largest difference between Google’s approach to social networking and Facebook’s. If this new model for social connectivity gains steam, Facebook could be left scrambling and faced with a difficult decision either to replicate or continue with the “all likes created equal” mindset.
Not to mention, Google+ provides a much more private means for communication: an issue that has presented nothing but concerns and frustrations amongst Facebook users for years. With Google+ we get our privacy back. We can share an update with a single person if we like. We can share it with any arbitrary circle of friends that we designate. We can even share an update with anyone in the world and make it searchable across the web, simply by marking it “public”. We have been liberated to share our digital lives with the same granularity of privacy we experience in the real world.
Even with the micro-targeting of communication and newfound privacy, there are a few Facebook features that are still glaringly missing in Google+. First and foremost, Google+ has yet to offer corporations, interest groups, and other entities the ability to create dedicated landing pages (although it’s on the way). Also, 53% of all Facebook users play in-network games. Google+ currently offers its users no games or digital currency (ie: Facebook credits). In fact, Google+ doesn’t even support a platform for third-party developers – an area where Facebook thrives. It may be only a matter of time before Google is supporting brand pages, games, a third-party development environment and many other features already present in Facebook; however, this is the realm where Facebook currently separates itself from its silicon valley brethren.