- August 4, 2011
- 82 Comments
The question seems premature or perhaps over dramatized, but I ask it with all sincerity. Whether the answer is yes or no or if the answer is not yet within grasp, think about the question at any level you wish and try to answer it. It is the process of thinking through the strengths and weaknesses of Facebook and Google Plus where you discover what each network means to you and why and how you will divide your time and focus in each. Or, you may uncover reasons to jump from one network to the other or pull the plug all together. It’s a healthy exercise to help you find balance and reconnect with your core values that drive productivity and fulfillment.
The adoption of Google+ is nothing short of astounding. comScore estimates that 25 million people have circled their friends and are sharing, +1’ing their way, and chatting their way toward social bliss. comScore visualizes the blinding velocity of Google’s growth, reaching 25 million within its first month of debut. In comparison, it took Twitter and Facebook almost three years to hit that milestone.
Now, some argue that the comparison to Twitter and Facebook is not parallel as Google is well established, for example there are an estimated 200 million users of gmail today. In the grand scheme of the discussion, the other social networks emerged as startups. On the other hand, Bradley Horowitz, VP Product at Google+ pointed out to me that network growth is purely organic without the benefit of Google’s marketing muscle-at least not yet. People can only join the network with an invitation from someone else. Imagine what the momentum will look like once users of other Google products are officially invited to join and in turn invite others.
Adoption is global…
As you can see, adoption is a global phenomenon. with the U.S., India, Canada, the U.K., Germany, Brazil, France, Taiwan, Turkey, and Spain rounding out the top 10 countries driving growth.
While women generally out number men in some of the leading networks in the social web, Google+ is another story. comScore notes that males make up 63% of all U.S. visitors.
Will You Leave Facebook for Google Plus?
As I noted in my initial analysis, Google+ is not a Facebook or Twitter killer and I don’t think that’s the right lens for which to survey the social landscape. In the U.S., we have a few top traditional TV networks, CBS, ABC, and NBC. In social networking, we now have three top social networks to compete for global online attention and interaction. In this example, none of the traditional networks successfully captured the attention of every viewer possible nor did one network kill the other. Instead, the programming of each network attracts people through content, creativity, and timing, defining, segmenting and sharing the audience around shared interests.
The same can be true in social networking. People will invest in the networks where they find value. Value is defined by the groups (or circles) of people they know, those they admire or respect, and the content and experiences they share. Personal fulfillment is also key. Social currency drives engagement as individuals must feel a sense of reciprocity, recognition and reward in each exchange.
With that said, I was fascinated by the number of passionate debates that explored whether or not people were planning on leaving Facebook in favor of Google+, those who were reluctant to embrace a new network and those who were ready to declare social media bankruptcy. I hosted a poll to surface opinions and perceptions that would bring clarity to the discussion.
I asked a simple, but leading question, “Will you abandon Facebook in favor of Google+?” I also invited participants to share their reasons why they voted yes, no, or selected any of the other options. I then shared the poll on Twitter, Facebook, and in Google+ and captured feedback in each network to contextualize each response. 1,977 people voted, with 23,000 people viewing the poll
To say that it seemed to strike a chord is an understatement. The emotion was raw. The responses were revealing.
I was surprised and not surprised to see that 23% of participants stated that they will leave Facebook in favor of Google+. 18% said “no way!” Almost half of the almost 2,000 respondents plan on using both networks to learn more. For fun, but also to take the temperature of social users, I asked if people currently suffer from social network fatigue (SNF) to which 7% responded yes.
Mashable readers directly align with the results of this survey with 23% planning on leaving Facebook for Google+. But, PC Magazine readers are a little more ambitious with 50% claiming that they will move their social residence to Google+.
I also wanted to learn more about those who participated in this survey, so I asked respondents to indicate gender and age.
The gender divide almost matches the comScore U.S. breakdown of Google+visitors (63%), with men accounting for 60% of all respondents.
I also asked about age. As you can see, the numbers again almost match the comScore results with 24-34 and 35-44 representing the two largest demographic age groups with 36% and 28% responding respectively. The younger demographic didn’t turn out for my study, but as you can see from comScore’s report, they represent a significant user base.
Women represent the larger population in Facebook estimated at 57%. With Google+, men represent the larger percentage of inhabitant. It is how the results break down the gender lines that I find interesting. Note: these numbers are a representation of the larger dataset as pulling information out of TWTPOLL proved a bit difficult here.
23% vs 15%: The percentage of men to women explicit in their claim that they plan on abandoning Facebook in favor of Google+.
50% vs. 51%: The percentage of women to men that will equally explore both options before making a decision.
7%: The equal percentage of men and women who feel SNF.
Now let’s take a look at some of the responses…
Travis Wright (teedubya) – Already shut down my wall… and moved shop. Although, I will keep it open so I can “connect” with 3rd party sites easily… and comment on my high school luddite friends statuses.
Steven Streight – Facebook is a cesspool of rogue apps, spammy games, phishing exploits, and disrespect for user privacy. It has very trivial content compared to Google+. I permanently deleted my account a long time ago. Twitter seems cold, lifeless, hard to manage, no Circles or ways to quickly see what my close pals are saying. Google+ is way better than both. I am spending a lot less time on Twitter now.
Note: The conversation hosted on Facebook did not yield a single “yes,” but it did produce one example of SNF.
@FangFan62 – I hope to once more of my friends and family are on it.
@MiguelAngelArce – I voted Yes!, I like circles and as long as I can see, G+ is taking the best of fb and twitter, and making it better. Google absolutly are respondig to the question: How will be a social networking service if it was invented today?, using all the power, tech, tools, and apps of Google.
Chad Brack – No – I believe that, over time, FB will be the primary location for sharing with family and most non-technical friends. A ‘lightweight’ sharing. G+ will be a spot for more involved dialogue and twitter/rss-style ‘following’ of topics that interest me.
Jennifer Stavros – As it stands currently: no. I will use both because both serve different purposes for me. I will also not be abandoning twitter for any of these services either. For me, Google+ is a great way to moderate the various “personalities” I have on the web in one place. Its a place for me to be more serious with my colleagues and still remain the creative with those that share those interests as well. It’s for business conversations and shared innovations. Facebook stands as a platform for connections with my closer network family of sorts. These are people whom I know personally and who can understand/enjoy the dual personality of corporate & creative. Twitter is for art and free flowing thoughts. My stream is not always as business oriented as some, depending on the hour, but it is meant to be the place where my thoughts are able to spill over a bit.
Bruce Scherer – No. Google+ will be a ghetto for wonks for a while, and is not tight enough to persuade regular people to stake new territory. I’ll keep feet in both places, though.
Jean Martell Ames – No..i like the separation between fb and g+…friends and family on fb…work network on g+…i know that will change when more people join g+ but it’s so refreshing to be on g+ right now
@AiDBusiness – It would be almost impossible to give up Facebook once established there. I may spend less time on FB, for a while, however.
PLANNING TO USE BOTH
BRANDInsider.tv – I think that it’ll take some time before people actually pay attention to Google+. Facebook is king and many are used to it but Google + has already been very good at sharing and their Hangouts is awesome!It’ll take some time for it to be a true competitor with Facebook
Jeremy D’Hoinne – It’s hard to tell now. None of my non-geek friends are on G+ yet. I use Facebook mostly for close friends and family.I’ll abandon it if they use Google+, otherwise I’ll keep both.But I’ll probably give up on twitter as soon as Google+ find a way to manage collapsed comment by default and smart choice for displaying shared post (no more than once per circle for example or just mention the re share)
Garrett Moon – Why bother? I get tired of this idea that one network has to die for another one to come it. How about both? I think they can both provide something different, unique, and worth while. It will keep them both and use them both. Now, that doesn’t mean G+ isn’t more fun!
@JudithSoto – I haven’t played with Google+ enough to commit 100%. But I’m not a fan of Facebook because of privacy issues and I often teeter on closing my personal account. Not confident that Google would respect my privacy either, though. I’ll have to explore Google+ more
@Aaron_Emig Personally I will use both. I will use FB more for the business pages and other apps like events, notes, etc. Google+ is great for most FB users who just chat, post pics, ask for recommendations, etc. because G+ is a lot more user-friendly than FB.
Niki Nikolaou – anybody else as tired as I am on sharing so much? I don’t want to add another thingee to my list of thingees. Now I know why we die.
@chrisfauch – Facebook is dead! G+ offers a quiet and cosy ONLY place where to meet people you have to meet for your job & projects. Looking like SNF
@AAARenee – I voted SNF because since 2003 I have been exploring Social Networks, building them up to make them meaningful & finding success in different ecosystems. With the promise of every new SN I am both skeptical & hopeful. Over time it is harder & harder to pack up my social friends & convince them to go West with me for bigger & better things. Google+ for now reminds me a lot of FriendFeed, an ecosystem where the innovators & early adapters meet to discuss high level content. For that reason alone I will spend time on the site. I have no doubt that Google+ will be around for some time but I think it will be a long time before it becomes mainstream & has the audience engagement that Facebook has. It’s growth will accelerate with the right apps & social tools.
A NOTE ABOUT TWITTER
It wasn’t a question that was asked, but some respondents did say that Google+ had already claimed Twitter profiles.
Heather White-Laird – Never been a fan of facebook..too many pets and babies. But the sad part is i’m leaving twitter behind which I do love. G+ has almost my full attention these days.
Dana Severson – No, but I’m considering Twitter.
Bill Hewson – no, but i have already kind of abandoned twitter
@HLeichsenring – I am thinking about changing FB to a purely private usage. In any case I am going to use my FB Page even more. G+ is right now an interesting SM experiment. I am using it besides my FB FP. Let’s see, were it will end One of the more interesting things is: will G+ be able to attack twitter… Kind regards from Germany Hansjörg
barry brown – Facebook will be how I stay in touch with family and close friends until or if they move elsewhere. My Facebook page is where my customers live and I truly don’t see that changing any time soon, but will be trying to create a community of new customers on Google+ when business profiles are introduced. I am already spending less time on Twitter and believe that platform has more to worry about than Facebook.
If you can make the time, I suggest that you read some of the other responses. They really steer the discussion in interesting directions.
Google+ 1 (Poll Round 1)
Google+ 2 (Poll Round 2)
At the heart of the matter is the either or nature of Google vs. Facebook and to some extent vs. Twitter. The numbers and the supporting responses reflect passionate, frustrated and also practical views of a multifaceted discussion. Personally, I don’t believe this is an either or discussion however, at least not yet. It’s far too complex to pick up and move completely away from a social or interest graph. Investing countless hours assembling personal, professional, and also emotional pieces of who you are in real life to build a semblance of you in the digital egosystem plus the valuable relationships forged over time equates to a tangible value measured in social capital. What I do believe is worthy of exploration is a conversation that’s less about social networking and more about the notion of a social OS.
Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about the idea of social networks as hubs for the digital version of “you.” The idea was that Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+, become your attention dashboard. And through the cultivation of your social and interest graphs, the apps that further personalize the experience, and those that plug into other applications such as Web sites, documents, collaboration tools or those that translate into the real world, essentially create a social OS. Ideally, this platform eventually connects the online with the offline, creating a complete experience drive though one integrated dashboard.
If you wonder how I voted, I side with the majority of respondents. I plan on using both, learning about the cultures, dynamics, and opportunities in each to gain personal and professional value in each.
Where do you stand in this discussion. Have you made up your mind or are you planning on experimenting to see where the social tide takes you?
Click here for the Conversation Prism, Twitterverse, Behaviorgraphics, and Social Compass posters…
Image Credit: Shutterstock (Modified for this post)