Google + and Facebook and How They Are Growing More Alike

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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, Imageshared, 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.

ImageGoogle 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.

Questions

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?

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8 thoughts on “Google + and Facebook and How They Are Growing More Alike

  1. Good explanation of both and for the first time I get the point of authors. Thanks for that.

    Its hard to tell who is doing a better job at expanding, to me it seems like Google because there is a lot of activity on there, its bright and sleek and non-stop information on there. Facebook seems slower and easier to use. Not sure if it’s easier to use because I am used to it. Forging ahead with Google+!

    Social Driven search offers a one stop shop to get all the information you need and catch up on personal connections at the same time.

    Yes, I always trust search results more if a friend is suggesting it.

    • Darleen,

      The use of the rel=”author” tag has been around for a while I never really knew the use for it until now. I really like the use and I dont believe that Google + is the only one that has implemented it, but it may be the one that matters the most.

      The Google+ vs Facebook design is an issue that I doubt either company will ever take the upper hand. Both of them have tons of very smart analysts and designers that will develop something appealing. The things that will set the two apart is functionality.

      Janis

  2. Great analysis and I like the question about whether future is search driven or social. If you ask me, it will always have components of both, but everything we find for in search will be heavily influenced by social, which means your social networks will become the most important form of communication. The sooner this dawns upon people, the more they will shift corporate strategies to move heavily emphasize what is happening on social networks.

    • Prof. Bornstein,

      I agree with you, and not only because my grade depends on you, that the future or both social and search engines will actually be a combination of both. It is hard to say exactly but personally I believe that it could look similar to what Amazon looks now. Everything you search can be rated publicly, sites that your friends visited will be highlighted, and who knows what else. By building a social influence early companies will be able to both leverage it today and prepare for a MUCH more social world in the future.

  3. Hey, Janis,
    Personally, I feel Facebook is doing a better job as far as “expanding” goes. They are trying to have their hand in almost anything you do online. I’ve noticed the different benefits both provide, and how one is stronger than the other.
    I use the search engine driven because of familiarity. I have found myself using the social driven, but not as much. I do like to keep an open mind to both tho, and change it up here and there with various searches, I find them both beneficial in their own ways.
    3. Do you trust search results more if you see suggestions from your friends? I don’t necessarily “trust” my friends suggestions more, I almost try and find a reason not to trust their suggestions. It sounds weird, but I will show more interest and engagement in the search result if I know someone who has read it before me. It’s actually a good thing because I ask myself more questions and get more use out of it..
    Enjoyed your blog post.

    • Gavin,

      I think it is hard to tell who is expanding more. It seems that Facebook keeps innovating in many technical ways and monetizing more of their activities. However I feel like it is slowly getting to the point where it cant get more users due to lack of internet access. Although there are a number of large countries where Facebook is not a top social network. As for trusting your friends and their suggestions that may be personal. I enjoy when Google Now makes suggestions based on my friends actions.

      Janis

  4. Great post. I thought you raised some great points about each platform. I think for now, most of the recommendations in social search are on location based, like a restaurant. It will be interesting to see how this evolves in the future. Will Facebook or Google know what car we drive or the blender we bought? I think if Facebook or Google can figure out how to integrate products into social search it will be more powerful. Additionally, it would open up a huge opportunity for more businesses. I guess the questions are how much information is a user willing to share and how can we reward them for sharing that information?

    • Sean,

      Thanks, I appreciate it. Well Google already knows a lot about me. I recently downloaded the Google Now app for iOS and it is amazing. Not only the built in maps, recommendations, and voice recognition is great but it knows where I live and my favorite places to eat. It really is a ones top shop for a lot of the things that I use anyways on my phone. It is slightly creepy that Google knows so much. If Google had the large social network of Facebook with such an integrated product I believe it would be an awesome tool, but again privacy issues would come up.

      Janis

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