Google+ isn’t Google’s first foray into the world of social media. (Remember Buzz, Wave, and Orkut? No? Well, neither do most people.) But it is the one that seems to have real sticking power. While its launch invited no small number of scoffers to predict a quick demise, it has since grown enough to overtake Twitter as the second most used social network. That’s an impressive achievement, but there’s still a big gap between being number #2 and #1.
The ascension of the up-and-comer has a lot of people asking: Google+ might get some prominent online businesses onboard, but does it really have the jet fuel required to conquer the reigning king of social? Well, if there’s anything to learn from the long history of Google, it’s that underestimating the creativity and innovation of its brainy engineers is a grave mistake.
Here are a few reasons why Facebook should be looking over its shoulder.
1) Trailblazing Features
Google+ has recognized that if you want to beat the champion, you have to be better than the champion. In that spirit, they have pulled out all the stops in creating ticks that you can’t get anywhere else (yet.) One of the most celebrated features is auto awesome, which instantly enhances images you upload to your account. Snap a few overlapping pictures of a landscape? Auto awesome turns them into a big panoramic photo. Take a couple photographs in a sequence? Auto awesome turns them into a gif — automatically.
They even outdid Facebook in how hashtags are used. Google+ scans the content of the post to automatically add new hashtags. And when you click on the hashtag, the post “flips over,” and you browse content from other users under the same subject.
2) Tight Connection To Google Search
When people want to learn what their friends are up to, they turn to Facebook. But when they want to learn literally anything else, they turn to Google Search. Google is leveraging the power that their flagship product has over the Internet by tightly connecting it and Google+. When someone googles a company name, they see that company’s most recent Google+ post prominently on the right hand side of the results. If someone connects content they created with their Google+ account, the results show their picture next to the link to the content in the results.
Facebook has a lot of things going for it. But it doesn’t have the largest and most sophisticated search engine ever created.
3) Young People Are Abandoning Facebook
In order for one social network to rise, another must fall. For a social network, the surest sign that you’re in store for a fall is when youth culture starts losing interest. That’s exactly what appears to be happening with Facebook.
A report by Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that an increasing number of teens are ditching their Facebook accounts because of the number of adults on the site and too much “drama.” While the report says that teens tend to favor Twitter and Instagram, these cracks in Facebook’s user base puts Google+ in prime position to catch up.
And The Winner Is…
Whether or not Google+ actually takes over Facebook, it’s undeniably true that it’s forcing Facebook to take a hard look at how it serves its user base. As Google+ continues to improve and draw new users in, it’s bound to inspire Facebook to start amping up its game, giving users more features that they like, and responding to criticisms more rapidly.
This will undoubtedly cause Google+ to take further measures to earn more accounts. As this arms race unfolds, and service continues to improve, there will be one clear winner from this competition—social media users everywhere.