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Most of the Google+ users reading this article must be aware that Google recently rolled out a re-designed version of its popular social networking website. Although, many of the users feel that the platform has imitated features from its arch rival Facebook, there are also many changes that Facebook currently does not offer such as a group chat of up to ten random friends at any point of time. Google+ also allows users to leave video messages and have a five way video conference. Also, Google+ has shown rapid growth considering that a total of 170 million users today have a Google+ account with around 20+ million being from India.
Facebook also made headlines by acquiring popular platform Instagram for a record 1 million US Dollars which it hopes to utilize it increase the smart-phone and mobile focus in order to increase traffic and time spent on the site. On the other hand, though there have not been many changes on Twitter, but there are significant improvements in improving the platform so that it handles more traffic rather than the overall user interface and API.
Let’s first have a look at the overall growth chart:
Surprisingly, Google+ was the quickest to reach the 10 million unique user mark in a record 16 days. This speaks volumes about the platform. However critics of the platform are quick to point out that it primarily rode on the popularity of other social media platforms and Google itself. Therefore, it is important that we take a more detailed look at the three platforms and their offerings.
Google+ vs. Facebook
Feature Comparison; Facebook
– While Facebook currently offers advanced privacy settings that enable users to hide everything including their videos & photos (including the cover photo), status updates, links shared and other such things. Google+ is yet to get the same in place.
– Secondly, Facebook also allows users to send private messages to users via chat and even when the person is not online. Also, the message inbox also serves as an inbox for the emails a person receives, though many people prefer Google’s Gmail for email. An added feature by Facebook does help in creating some extra leverage for the world’s largest social media platform.
– Thirdly, around 53% of the Facebook users prefer playing games on the platform. Something that Google+ is struggling to offer as of now.
– Facebook’s help and privacy center is highly interactive and it helps users with a vast number of different queries including privacy issues, fraud protection, copyrights and intellectual property rights protection and any other issue that may crop up. Something that Google+ has not yet incorporated into the mainstream platform & queries have to be sent in by email.
Now let us look at the features offered by Google+
Feature Comparison; Google+
– The group chat feature of Google+ is something really good. It was built on the same UI as the Gmail and Google Talk chat applications which makes it a lot more stable as compared to Facebook’s Chat feature, which has had problems in stability right from the start.
– Google+ also allows direct video chat between members. Also, there is a new feature called Video Hangout that allows people to have a video conference with a maximum of ten people at a time. Also, one can join ongoing hangouts as well as start their own as long as the upper limit of 10 users has not been met. There is also a feature that lets users leave a video message to others.
– Also, Google+’s Circles feature enables users to not only keep friends organized, it also helps in sharing info and other stuff only with a specific set of friends. This is a nice feature and is much more targeted as compared to the newsfeed based sharing on Facebook.
Summing it up:
All in all, Google+ & Facebook both have interesting features to offer users. In terms of monthly users, Google+ is ahead of its Pinterest & LinkedIn but is lagging far behind the leaders Facebook & Twitter. (Source: ComScore). While Facebook is very popular, there are a still a lot of features that need to be integrated by Zuckerberg’s team if it has to retain leadership in the social media world which has more population that many countries put together!
PS: This is the first article of a 5 part series.