That’s both the beauty and the Achilles heel of Facebook. It’s easy to find friends and add them. It’s easy to post photos and videos. And it’s also easy for other people to find your stuff. Over the past couple of years, FB has been compelled to add new privacy features that allow you to restrict what can be accessed. However, those features are complicated (everything else is simple), and lots of people never take the time to figure out the settings.
So what does Google do? They develop a new social network that immediately leaps over the most important drawback of Facebook: lack of privacy. Google+ offers Google Circles – a way to separate your connections into categories you create. So photos you post in your ‘friends’ circle can’t be seen by people in your ‘business’ circle, and vice-versa. It’s not rocket science, but it instantly solves the problem that’s been vexing Facebook users from the start.
As of today, there are more than 10 million Google+ users. A very good beginning indeed. But when you compare that with the 750 million users that Facebook has, it’s easy to see that Google+ has some serious catching up to do. Facebook has a huge advantage in being first, and in bringing just about everyone who has network access into the fold.
I believe what this really represents is the beginning of the next significant phase of social media. Phase one was Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Phase two is the addition of Google+, and the other nascent social networks that are starting to gain traction. In other words, it’s not going to be ‘one size fits all’ anymore.
In the early days of television, there were three major networks. Today there are hundreds of cable channels. In the early days of social, there were three major players. In the future, there will be many more.
It’s not just Facebook that will change, it’s the whole landscape of social media. People will ultimately find the network that fits them best. That will spur better services from competitors. And that’s a good thing.