Yeah, yeah. I watched f8; just another one in a hundred thousand pairs of eyes trying to wrap my brain around “the new Facebook.” Some key takeaways were the major partnerships with Netflix and Spotify (don’t worry, everyone is listening to Foster the People right now), Timeline will ultimately change how we express ourselves, and Mark Zuckerberg is still kind of a (smart as hell) tool.
For those die hard Facebook users who didn’t tune in to the annual reveal, they’re in for a huge shock. The updates made to Facebook are nothing short of major. Not only is the interface going to visually look dramatically different, but the core of Facebook seems to be evolving. If you think the ticker and lists are confusing, just wait until you check out Timeline.
Zuckerberg and his team have listened to what users want in regards to privacy, sharing, and usability. The result was an entirely new way to tell your story online. The changes on Facebook are not only monolithic steps for the company itself, but also for how we interact with each other online and offline. Now instead of telling your friends what you are doing or thinking, you are going to be able to literally show them.
The problem I am having isn’t with the new and improved Facebook. I am just getting a little sick of people constantly trying to compare Facebook and Google + (I’m talking to YOU TechCrunch). Apart from them both being considered social platforms, I don’t think they could be more different. Even though there is functionality overlap, I think they serve a completely different purpose.
Facebook, like Mark explained in f8, is attempting to do something crazy — change the way we tell our story. Facebook is essentially allowing us to document our entire lives, and share that with all our friends, family, and maybe those random dudes you met in a bar (depending on how you organize your lists). Forget written or oral history, now it’s online. The way Facebook has been evolving over the past seven years has changed the way we socialize on and offline. At the end of the day, Facebook is a playground for sharing content about YOU.
I find Google + to be a completely different playing field. Maybe I am alone in feeling this way, but I think of Google + as a means of sharing content, whether it’s related or unrelated to me specifically. Google + is an open invitation to share articles, industry news (whatever your industry may be), funny videos, photos from your vacation, and so many other types of content. I feel like I can be a more unbiased and more diversified version of myself on Google +. What I share on Facebook is not necessarily what I would share on Google +, and vice versa.
Here’s the thing: there are two things Facebook will never do better than Google, and that’s Email and Search. Facebook will never be able to touch those two functionalities, no matter how hard Zuckerberg tries. I think what Google + aims to be is the beginning of what will be more refined search engine based on an algorithm that learns your behavior while also taking into account social influence. From conception, Google’s whole reason for being is to organize the Internet’s information. Nothing has changed; they are still trying to consolidate and serve the most relevant search results, but with a new humanist social layer. Evolving with the exponentially growing web is a pretty sizeable task to take on, so it might take a few tries; even when the contender is a giant like Google.
Aside from Google + trying to achieve a different goal than Facebook, age alone makes the comparison askew. The platform as it stands right now is in an infantile stage, and I find it unfair for it to be judged against a platform that has seen the better part of a decade. Google + just opened itself up to everyone and business pages have just gone into testing. Does no one remember the primitive functionality of Facebook?? It would be scoffed at in today’s world. Let’s allow Facebook to expand of the idea of a social persona, while giving a little time for Google + to pick up momentum on the idea of social search.
So, let’s all take our judgment caps off and give Google + a fair shake, while congratulating Facebook on some really awesome steps into the future of social media.