How can you compare the search giant Google to the search titan Facebook? If you asked me a year or two ago I would say that you could not. There were two separate and rather unique companies and platforms. Facebook was purely a social media to share break up photos and Google was a search engine used to complete last minute papers and find funny cat pictures. However it is 2013 and the answer is completely different. Both of the giants are moving closer and closer to one another in terms of features and functionality. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a closer look at both then.
Facebook and the Social Graph
Facebook has been the leader in the social networking medium for a long time (in internet time) and will continue to be the leader for the foreseeable future. Every so often Facebook innovates and adds function and changes the way it functions. The latest and most interesting is the Social Graph concept. What the social graph really is social network analysis applied to a social medium and utilized to make decisions. Although social network analysis can be a complex subject EdgeRank does a great job of summarizing how it affects Facebook and how Facebook ranks stories in its news feed.
On a very base level Facebook’s Social Graph puts you at the center and then draws lines to everything you have liked, shared, commented or interacted with. Facebook even tracks whether you hovered your mouse over a post. Using this information Facebook ranks and stacks your Facebook feed depending on what you have interacted with recently. This allows you to see everything you want while dropping what you don’t down to the bottom of your feed. Kurt Wagner has a great summary on exactly how your news feed is ranked.
Social Graph and the Future
There are long term implications of Social Graph as Facebook constantly moves towards becoming a search engine. As long as Facebook remains a purely social media platform it can be supplanted just like My Space. Shel Israel points out Facebook’s partnership with Microsoft’s Bing. By partnering with a search engine Facebook will be able to combine the relationship information with search engine knowledge of what people look for to bring together everything that you would want online in a single package cutting the need for Google and other search engines.
Google and Google +
Google has tried to enter into the social realm before with Buzz. The previous experiment did not work out so well but Google’s new venture Google + is seeing success. Although Facebook is still ahead in the social realm Google is making every attempt to change that. Since Google is coming from behind in the social game they are fully leveraging their search engine capabilities.
Google has fully implemented an authorship component where authors can identify their sites or blogs and link them to their Google + profiles for improved SEO. If you search on Google now you will see that some of the top results are websites identified by the authors personal profiles on Google +. This is giving many authors and other businesses on the web the reason to be on Google + and promote it everywhere on the web in turn growing the social media network.
Google +, Facebook and the Future
Google is attempting to do the same thing as Facebook but working from the opposite corner. As Facebook attempts to grow into the search engine business, Google is attempting to get into the social medium. Who will be the first to succeed is hard to tell. Facebook has far more active social media members but Google has a large edge in profit that they can use to leverage. What it means for the rest of us is that we need to be active on both Google + and Facebook to reach the widest audience. Each platform presents a different opportunity and advantage for now, but that may change soon.
1. Who is doing the better job of expanding, Google or Facebook?
2. Do you see the future of search social driven or search engine driven?
3. Do you trust search results more if you see suggestions from your friends?