Recapping Google+ and Facebook changes

Instead of doing the regular “5 stories you might have missed”, I’m focusing on the recent changes to Google+ and Facebook. There is just too much going on to ignore.  This update brings you up to speed on what happened in the last two weeks or so.

Google+ may be at beginning of lifecycle, but Facebook is running away with the competition.  I heard it said, and I tend to agree, that:

  • Google+ is for the techie, early adopter type
  • Facebook is for everybody else

Google new features

  1. Opened to everyone 18+: This is important because one of the reasons Google+ has stalled is it doesn’t have the “network effect” working for it. That is, it didn’t have enough people on the site to make it relevant or spreadable. For example, it’s great that I can create circles of my friends, but very few of my real-life friends are on Google+. The real question is will the masses adopt to Google+? Google+ needs the late adopters to jump aboard, but the feature set, as compared to Facebook, doesn’t give people much incentive to try Google+.
  2. Added search: Ummm…yeah the search company added search to it’s social networking platform. No. I don’t know why it took them so long either.
  3. Google+ API: Another thing holding back Google+ is that you can’t update Google+ from social publishing sites like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. The problem with the published API is that it is only for “reading” public updates on Google+, you can’t “post” to Google+ from other sites. Besides the hassle of having to go to Google+ to post there, it also means you can’t schedule updates – which is a pain. In summary, this initial API is “ho-hum.”
  4. Hangout improvements: My favorite recent improvement are the changes to Hangouts (video conferencing). Hangouts are now  available on mobile. You can do document sharing, hangout naming and broadcast hangouts. This can be a great publishing tool and I’m considering trying out a scheduled Marketing Technology hangout.
  5. klout integration: With the published API, klout is now able to score your influence on Google+,. For some this is an incentive to post more frequently on Google+.

Facebook new features

This is a list of recently added features added, they are not the newest features announced at F8.

  1. Subscribe [Facebook]: This feature allows you to get updates from people who you don’t follow.  For example, I learn a lot Jay Baer, but I don’t really know him (although I did snap a great picture of him at sxswi) – so it would weird for us to be “friends“. I can now subscribe to Jay’s updates from his Facebook page.  Y0u can also control how many updates you get via the subscription. So, subscribe is like a follow on Twitter, although the granular controls are an improvement.
  2. Improved friends lists [Facebook]: This feature is a direct response to ongoing concerns about privacy and Google+ Circles feature. The new friend lists are created automagically (close friends, family, etc). In addition, Facebook has made it easier to add people to lists. One of the challenges of getting set up on Google+ is setting up your Circles, so this easy-of-use feature is a plus.
  3. Reorganized page layouts [Facebook]: What’s nice about this update is Facebook is adapting what you see according to your usage. If you check Facebook frequently you’ll see the most recent news, however, if you visit less often you’ll see the top news in a newspaper layout. The new ticker moves some of the noisy posts to the side in a real time feed.

Facebook announced features @ F8

  1. Timeline [Facebook]: This was the focus of the Zuck’s presentation at F8. Timeline provides a seamless chronological view of your life (rather, your life on Facebook).  Your updates on Facebook will be smartly arranged on the Timeline and you can add past events/components to curate your Timeline before Facebook existed. I found this update underwhelming because I have neither the time nor the inclination to invest time in curating my life on Facebook.
  2. “Frictionless” app integration: This improvement updates your Facebook activity without you having to do some clicking. For example, with a one time authorization of the Spotify music app, the music I listen to is posted to my newsfeed. Critics of this new feature say that Facebook is “killing taste”. I’m not so sure about that but I do know I still like a measure of control over what is posted about me. Not everyone needs to know how much Girl Talk I really listen to.
  3. Verbs!!!: Goodbye “Like” button? Soon you will be able to do more than just “Like” something.  “Like” allowed brands on Facebook to draw people to their Facebook page. The additional traffic was good for brands and Facebook. Now that everyone is on Facebook, “liking” something feels like a very limited range of action.  With verbs users will be able to “watch” a movie, “listen” to a song and “eat” some yummy BBQ.  Good move Facebook, but brands will have to rethink how they move from “Like” and take advantage of the new verbs.
  4. Shared experiences: As Zuck demonstrated on stage, you’ll be able to listen to a song with friends and when Congress fixes the online video privacy restriction, I imagine you will be able to watch a Netflix movie with friends. Facebook is working to keep you on the site and shared experiences is a step in that direction. al


    • Emkey1 on September 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    John, I think Google just wanted to get something out the door in regards to the API. It’s certainly in need of major additions. 

    I agree with your timeline comments. Great feature for the few people with the time and inclination to mess with it but otherwise kind of ho hum. 

    I’ve yet to see much use of FB’s Like or Google’s +1 buttons so I’m not sure that verbs is going to make much of a difference. If you can’t get people to regularly make a simple binary choice it’s hard to see why they would go to the trouble of using something more complicated.

    I’m constantly trying to figure out whether I’m blah about most of the new social networking stuff because it’s bad or because I’m just getting old(er). I suspect a lot of this stuff is going to profoundly change the way the sub twenty five year olds interact with the world and people around them. As for me, I may have to settle for being a bemused spectator.

  1. Good points Mike,
    The value of the Like button was it was a simple way to show brand affinity, “I like Nike”. But it doesn’t work for all available uses. Let’s say I truly dislike Barak Obama and I want to let him know how much I dislike his policies on Facebook. The only way I can access his page ( is to “Like” it – which of course greatly disturbs me. The last thing I’d want to show up in my right-leaning timeline is that I “Like” Barak Obama – my GOP Facebook friends would have fun poking fun at me. I’d much rather “Dislike” his page.
    Taken a step further, the new verbs will allow people to have a more natural engagement on Facebook. I saw this article on AdAge and I think it does a good job explaining the issue:

    Oh, and I made up the part about not liking Obama!

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