What Features Google+ and Facebook are Stealing and Why Google is Doing it Better
Every site has its specific features or niche that keeps users coming back, but recently, changes to Facebook and Google+ have users wondering whether these two sites will acquire every great feature of the smaller sites around them. As both sites race to see who gets to be the true one-stop site for all your social media needs, the Google+’s design changes that mirror Facebook, combined with their integration into search engines and all things Google have the company growing at a healthier rate than Facebook and has developers interested in the Google+ platform.
First let’s look to see what features Facebook has added to their product that may not have been so original. Maybe the most obvious is the @mention feature that was once so branded as a Twitter functionality. Facebook has also added a “subscribe” feature that mirrors Twitter’s “follow” option, and “Interest Lists” that let you see the stories of a particular group of pages or people, exactly like Twitter’s “list” function. The site hasn’t picked on Twitter exclusively either. Their “Checking In” feature aims to poach users from Foursquare and location-based websites and, most recently, Facebook added a “listen” button to artist pages, which borrows from the Myspace artist page functionality.
Google+ is just as guilty, borrowing the @mention feature, the “following” feature, and the “who to follow” option that essentially make up Twitter’s interactions. Along with all their Twitter-like features, Google+ has looked to Facebook for most of its design and functionality. Whether it be the very similar activity feed, profile page, or just recently the cover photo option, Google hasn’t really tried to hide the fact that they want people to stop obsessing over Facebook, and try the very similiar Google+.
It’s no secret that Google+ is not the imposing online presence that Facebook is. The average user spends only 3.3 minutes a month on the site as opposed to the 7.5 hours user spend a month on Facebook, but Google+ recently reported 100 million monthly users, creeping up on Twitter’s 140 million. Google+’s complete redesign and their “Plus” buttons that appear beneath most media on the Web are changing the ghost town into a potential Facebook contender. Conversely, Facebook’s revenue and user growth is slowing. According to an article by Silicon Alley Insider, Facebook’s growth was up 45% last quarter, a steep drop from 55% the quarter before that and way down from 104% in the quarter before that. In another article by Mashable, 39% of developers reported that “the network effects of Google’s initiative are more important to their social strategies in 2012 than Facebook’s social graph.”
What does this mean? The changes made to Google+ are working. Between the design and features they borrow, the way they work with already popular Google products, and original features like “hangouts” and the left navigation bar, the site is poised to catch fire whenever the public wants to give it a spark. By looking to the sites around them and taking the features that would best work together, Google is making it easy for people to justify turning their back on the other sites, and embracing the Google way.