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Google and the Rise of Facebook

In 2007 I said that Facebook would be the home page for your personal brand. Now it seems that Facebook is officially setting out to become your homepage period.

The other day I logged into Facebook and noticed a new message at the top of the screen. I was presented with a simple way to make Facebook my homepage so that I could see “what’s happening with friends as soon as I opened my browser.”  And, I’m not the only one.

Why am I taking the time to let you know that Facebook is making it easy for you to drag and drop Facebook to your home button?

Facebook started out as a social network, but it is officially growing into a full-fledged personal OS, where friends and experiences are interconnected inside and outside of Facebook. And, at the center of everything is you. Facebook is a platform where relationships create the construct for the 3C’s of information commerce. The acts of sharing and consuming content in social media represent the social dealings between people and set the stage for interaction and education.But, it is the platform that offers a sandbox for development and also a solid foundation for social architecture. It is the sites that feature Facebook interconnects that weave the fabrics of relationships and the ties and interests that bind us.

More than one million websites have integrated with Facebook Platform.

150 million people engage with Facebook on external websites every month.

Two-thirds of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 websites and half of comScore’s Global Top 100 websites have integrated with Facebook.

The more we interact with Facebook around the Web through Likes, Shares, and Comments, the more we feed the social effect and the greater the personalization inside Facebook and within its partner sites.

Indeed, according to comScore, Facebook traffic soared by 55.2% hitting 151.1 million in October 2010, up from 97.4 visitors at the same time last year. It’s also important to note that Facebook was home to 300 million active denizens last year and now it has a population of more than 550 million. While Google is earning 173.3 million visits in the U.S., Facebook’s trajectory is only gaining in mass and force. And it’s only gaining momentum…

– 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day

– The average user has 130 friends

– People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

Don’t Google Me, Facebook Me

Over the years, Google has missed steps to foster a social network of its own, perhaps focusing on a culture of code rather than human culture and behavior. What lies ahead is a quiet war where  your social graph is at stake. Facebook is taking large steps to move you away from Google and toward the social web.  As this new “homepage” request rolls out to active users worldwide, we will see many follow Facebook’s instruction to now make the social graph the starting point to their online experience each and every time they fire up their browser. Doing so changes behavior and teaches us that we can indeed get a little help from our friends by leaning on them for empowerment, entertainment, and enlightenment.

We don’t take to Google for insight, we  now take to the stream…

What’s materializing before us may in fact represent the beginning of the end of the Google era of Web domination. This is the rise of the Facebook economy (F-commerce) where commerce represents the currency of information and engagement and the net worth of the relationships we nurture. While it doesn’t beat the drum in its march toward online supremacy, Facebook is in fact setting out to help you improve the way you communicate, discover, and share. Since you are at the center of the social egosystem, Facebook is designing products and services that make managing and interacting with your social graph more efficient.

From Gmail to > We now have a new messaging platform on its way to us with email addresses yours for the taking. It changes how we think about messages and exchanges and may in fact, encourage us to follow Zuckerberg’s vision away from the traditional inbox. By integrating messaging into one system that connects through multiple clients and devices, Facebook also starts to minimize the value of Google Talk. Does Google turn its 193 million Gmail users out of the inbox and toward a social network…something like say, GoogleMe? Now with its social hooks in MySpace, Google must revisit its human algorithm.

From to Facebook search > The future of search is social and we are already investing in social media optimization (SMO) in addition to SEO. We can’t underestimate Facebook search. Google has long dominated search and the behemoth of a company is showing its age and its weaknesses. Even though Google is experimenting with integrating social into traditional search results, its algorithm is in dire need of a human touch – a human algorithm. At the same time, Facebook is slowly but surely improving its search feature. What used to simply display results within the network, now starts to feature results from around the Web where the displayed list is curated by the actions of your friends – as part of the platform. This will only improve and become more substantial in the coming months.

From Google Voice to Facebook + Skype > Google Voice is a valuable service that combines voice, Web, and email. While it’s not getting thunderous roars of attention, Skype and Facebook are introducing the ability to call friends directly from the News Feed. As this integration becomes seamless and demand for such a service gains awareness and pervasiveness, Facebook and Skype will rival Google Voice one day.

From Google Latitude to Facebook Places > Google is experimenting with geo location, but Facebook Places is gaining mass adoption. Competing for attention online and offline is helping Facebook merge experiences and channel the activity into the News Feed.

From Google Groups to Facebook Groups > Google Groups was once one of the Web greatest hosts for contextual networks, groups organized by interests, events, and causes. Now with the release of the new and improved Facebook Groups, people are forming nicheworks, networks within networks. Their focused activity is enhanced by a dedicated group framework that fosters collaboration and conversation whether the group unites relationships or actions linked by strong, weak, or temporary ties.

From Google Docs to Facebook + Microsoft Office > Google Docs are the industry standard for Web collaboration around documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms and artistic canvases. While the world was abuzz with Facebook’s messaging service, Microsoft introduced Office Web Apps as part of the new messaging system. The technology alliance allows people to view Word, Excel and PowerPoint attachments with the Office Web Apps directly in Facebook. It just the beginning of something more productive…

Twitter Me This…The Facebook Generation

And what of Twitter? I believe it is the moon that orbits a networked planet. It turns the tides. It defines its rotation.

Twitter is your window to relevance, but Facebook is your homepage for the social Web.

According to recent data released by Hitwise, Facebook accounts for 25% of all page views in the U.S. And it’s only going to skyrocket as we interact with content and one another through the Facebook platform. Depending on which data we review, Google is either in Facebook’s rearview mirror or in its sights. Hitwise claims Facebook has already surpassed Google in terms of views. Earlier we stated that comScore has Facebook nipping at Google’s heels. Either way, it’s just a matter of time until Facebook traffic surpasses Google with tenable data supporting the historic milestone.

We are witnessing the dawn of the social consumer and their network of preference for the immediate future is Facebook.

As I’ve previously observed, the medium is no longer just the message. In social, the medium is the platform and as such, people now represent both the medium and the message where reach is defined by a blending of the social graph, the context of the story and the expansion and contraction of strong, weak, and temporary connections. The Facebook platform serves as the foundation for our Social OS and in turn, we are its driving force. With every action, we trigger an equal and opposite reaction. With our relationships serving as Facebook’s construct, we are realizing that the social graph effect may in fact, spark greater volumes of reaction than Google, or any of us, may have anticipated. Welcome to the Facebook generation…the question is, will you call Facebook home?

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97 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Google and the Rise of Facebook”

  1. Dewitahs says:

    What do you think about dealing with Facebook’s privacy problem?

    • briansolis says:

      I think they should proactively stay on top of it…Facebook, and while we’re are it, this country, could greatly benefit by employing a privacy czar.

    • Babar says:

      Hi Brian – Nice article
      Whats your take on that everything is moving on the mobile device?
      Google is already one of the dominant players of Mobile OS and they are now in the pockets of millions of users.
      I agree that Google Voice is not getting the attention at this stage and that they are lacking the social aspect – but it’s a matter of time where we will see Google Voice integration with an updated Android OS version disrupting the entire industry. Personally, I don’t think we have seen the full potential of the “Google age” yet – it has just started. But indeed – it will be exciting to see the mobile future – especially if FB decides to enter the Mobile OS battleground


    • briansolis says:

      Hello Babar, yes. Google is indeed carving out new channels for its business through Android, Chrome, and also Google TV.

      One interesting stat that I didn’t include in the article is that more than 200 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices.

    • BARS+TONE says:

      Brian, interesting read. I think that it’s clear that Facebook and Google have already squared up and are taking shots at one another. It will be interesting to see how it works out. The Economist had a great article on what Google’s 2nd Act will look like. (Let’s assume Facebook is still in it’s 1st Act, though I bet you’d disagree!) Three things that Google as going for it- 1. a spirit of creativity- nothing (including unmanned cars) is off limits; 2. the Android OS; 3. Chrome and an OS that might work wonders on netbooks. I think that Android might turn out to be a great play as their mobile OS is gaining more and more market share.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Brian (sorry for my english, i’m french) … I think it’s the rise of … Microsoft. All of the new services from Facebook integrate a part of Microsoft. New groups => Microsoft docs (bye bye Google Docs) , New Gigabox => Microsft Apps (bye bye Google Aps), Facebook Places => Hello Bing Maps , External Social Search => Hello bing … I think Microsoft understand it’s impossible to launch a new social media, and buying Facebook or Twitter is impossible. And even if it could be possible, it will be a fail like News Corp and MySpace … or Wave and Google … they haven’t the social media culture and have other vision (beneficts in first).

    I hope you understand my ugly english 🙂

  3. iTbay says:

    Excellent Brian! It’s like were in 1999 all over again … 1999-2.0….these r exciting times….google took a top down approach to the social web whereas facebook took a bottom up approach. Google has to develop it’s localization strategies to build a network that takes the bottom up approach. Technologies will thrive today I believe if they can begin at the lowest level — at the local level…this is what has made facebook grow to where it is…google social strategy is scattered making the trust factor hard for connections to be developed

  4. Mike Handy says:

    Up until this time we have seen unilateral domination on the web, it looks like that time has passed. This doesn’t mean search or google or gmail or facebook is going to die. This is like comparing Apple Juice and Coke… they are totally different! Google and facebook can and will coexist for a very long time. Facebook is not going to completely dominate the web, and google isnt going to be the only search. 2011 will be the year the web starts a fragmentation of usage honestly it looks like twitter, disqus or tumblr will be the common thread that holds the others together.

  5. Jason Murphy says:

    I’d like to see Facebook and PayPal get closer to each other. With Facebook as the default P2P communication and PayPal as the default P2P payment platform I’m surprised to see that they have not tried to brainstorm more ways to work together.

  6. Nope. I may be in the minority, but I choose to actually interact with my circle of friends – people I can talk to, shake hands with and share a beer with – in person.

    Isn’t it an interesting commentary on our culture that we have become virtual slaves to the very tools we designed to “enpower” us. We’ve opted to “like” and “dislike” things and “engage” with pseudo-personalities that may or may not be real.

    I love the reach and capability the web brings; but everything in moderation…

  7. As a teacher, at the moment Facebook’s tech backend really causes me difficulties, so I’m not there as a brand. But oh, how I want to be! Each day I search for someone I can afford to create my landing page! I will find one soon I know.

    But the scope, the reach, the possibilities—wow. I could teach so many children that it’s almost beyond this older gal’s scope!

    Thus far it’s helped my family to regain our closeness, I’m back in touch with old friends, and I’ve met many new ones.

    I’m happy to change with the times! Facebook is nothing but good for me. If they’d just get rid of the proprietary backend software I can’t afford to have anybody deal with!

  8. fascinating changes afoot. What makes this more interesting, to me (I am no technical geek sadly) is that Google has become what it once longed to overthrow. a behemoth dictating, thus her power begins to wane, and facebook is rising. Still I am hesitant to call facebook home, and throw all my brittle eggs in one basket. (in spite of my fond interaction with friends -truly a mad large cocktail party) What of you Mr Solis, you dont say if facebook is the doorway of your domain? So now begins the true internet war? A dastardly tale indeed.

  9. Eastwind says:

    I sign up with face book 3 years ago and use it for a few months. I close my account after that and never go back to it. IMHO facebook is just a waste of time and is for people who had no life period.

    • Devin De Roon says:

      When I am finished with college and graduate I think I will delete my account. I feel like I will not have a need for it when I am done with college. It can only cause me possible problems with trying to get jobs in the future. Facebook is a good tool for younger ages to stay in touch but as I get older I feel like I will have less and less need for it.

  10. Scott Gould says:

    Brian, you nail it every time. So good.

  11. Thanks for this article Brian. At first, I thought Facebook was looking to dominate Google in terms of PPC, but I haven’t even thought of these other areas, aside from the messaging system.

  12. Brilliant and eloquent analysis Brain.

  13. Des Walsh says:

    Typically informative, insightful and thought-provoking, thanks Brian. Like Jennifer I am curious to know whether you have succumbed to FB’s siren homepage call and I am bothered by the risks involved in placing all or most of one’s eggs in the FB basket. I like the fact that what might have seemed like an inexorable path to total web domination by Google looks to having been seriously challenged or even blocked.

  14. Great article. We no longer “google stalk” people, we “facebook stalk” them. However as we have so many ‘friends’ (in San Francisco the average seems to be 400), personal deep connection has gone by the wayside. I am waiting for Facebook Groups (or other) to evolve to meet this……

  15. Google Docs are a great idea – until you have no internet access. It doesn’t happen as much as it used to but when it does…

    Google for Search
    Facebook for Social
    Twitter for News

  16. Garious says:

    Are these predictions or it’s happening already? I think Facebook is becoming a headache for Google that Google has to come up with something like Google Social. If Facebook would fix its privacy and security loopholes, it would have been totally flawless. I guess, we can only hope for Google partnering with… Twitter? It’s all about convergence these days so let’s see who will win before my pc goes to sleep. Thanks Brian! Excellent insights, as ever.

  17. Lynda White says:

    No, I will not be using Facebook for my home page. Facebook is still relevant and very much a part of my marketing day, but I find myself spending more and more time on Twitter.

    Yahoo! is my home page because I love Yahoo’s email and I also like to see relevant news at a glance every morning.

    • Devin De Roon says:

      I agree. My home page should be a site where I can get a quick glance at the news for the day. Facebook as a home page cannot give you quick news that is occuring throughout the rest of the world.

  18. If social networks are designed to be interactive, the integration into one platform seems to defeat the purpose. I don’t interact the same way with people on Facebook as I do on LinkedIn or on Twitter. For me there is still too much time sucking going on on Facebook and I don’t spend a great deal of time there. That being said, I don’t think I will be one to make Facebook my home page.

    Great article, as usual very insightful

  19. Another excellent post.

    I just love Malcom Gladwell’s book; OUTLIERS. there he mentions how the times and season can aid the growth or the death of a persons potential. It is time for a new turn, the times are pregnant, it would soon be the 9th month and FB will just take over. It is not strange that it will happen.

    Somewhere, the number one WebService or WebTool is being develop by a youngster, who will leverage on the technology and events that did not exist yet for FaceBook to use, then it will be time for FaceBook to give way too.

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