Google + Gains Momentum (Despite Facebook’s Overhaul)
But this momentum doesn’t seem to be coming from an influx of users who have left Facebook. If this were the source of the user gain, there would be a lot more people joining Google; Facebook has nearly 800 million users right now, and if there were a mass exodus to Google +, we would know it right away because the increase would far surpass 30%. Might this lack of defectors be because, at last week’s F8 conference, Facebook unveiled significant changes to the user interface? After all, these changes have generated a great deal of buzz, most of it positive – and users seem to be generally happy with the profile overhaul (a stark difference from the user reaction after Facebook’s recent changes and additions of “lists” and “real time updates”).
Though some users may be jumping between platforms (this image just got a lot more clever, didn’t it?), there is no evidence right now to suggest anyone from Facebook is jumping ship to join Google +.
Even if Google + isn’t siphoning Facebook’s fickle users (I count myself among their ranks), the recently publicly available social network is growing fast. However, maybe in the coming weeks, when Facebook’s changes roll out completely, we might see people defecting, but for now it doesn’t seem like that will be the case.
First, What Has Changed with Facebook?
First, profiles will now be in the form of a “timeline” – basically, your Facebook history and the highlights of your social networking behavior will be visible on your profile. Right now, you can change over to your timeline, or wait until Facebook changes everyone’s profiles over.
The “like” button is changing; new gestures will be available to fit different situations. You can say you “read” or “watched” something; instead of “liking” pasta, for instance, you may be able to say you “ate” pasta.
Music will now be integrated with Facebook profiles. Spotify enables this new feature, which can be as simple as just sharing or as integrated as sharing your music and then listening to it with other users Also, similar ideas apply to videos and news that you want to share with your friends.
These are the main changes that make the Facebook improvements an overhaul of all that we know when it comes to social networking. This changes the game.
Google + Still Being Used, By More People
Though this may be a surprise to some people, users are still engaging with Google +. Once the media hype died down, many assumed Google + was leaking users, and would in fact fail. However, new data revealed by Paul Allen prove otherwise. Remember, Google made joining the social network easy for anyone over 18 (it is no longer invitation only) last week; since then, user statistics show that Google + isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.
Allen’s information, which shows a 30% growth in the 2 days following Google +’s release to the public, is broken down as follows:
“On September 9, our model showed 28.7 million users. This morning (9-22), our model shows 37.8 million users, with most of the growth coming in the last 2 days.”
That’s just under 10 million users added in 2 days. Taking into account other factors, Allen estimates that about 43 million people currently count themselves “users” of Google +.These users are likely enjoying the improvements that have been made by Google since the Beta phase of the social network, and can expect more improvements as Google + ages. However, one thing is for sure: Google +’s track record with changes has been much less bumpy than Facebook’s (of course, Facebook is MUCH older); changes that Google + makes are generally seamless, done cleanly, and generally are to the benefit of users. Valuing user experience is an incredibly beneficial quality for Google to have, especially when its going up against a giant social network with a track record of angering its users. Google +, in some situations, is set up as a solution to Facebook, even as Facebook continues to improve and try to keep up with Google’s features. However, Facebook’s changes could completely change the game; we’ll just have to wait and see.
Why Do SEOs Care?
SEOs are watching these social networking changes closely because of the growing importance of branding to the SEO industry. Right now, branding on the social networks is integral for businesses looking to expand their online “footprints” and share relevant content with customers and potential customers on a more regular basis. Social networks are also the mediums through which businesses can reach larger audiences; for instance, at last week’s F8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg noted that 500 million people visited Facebook in one day. If even a tiny fraction of that number view your content, visit your links, and interact with your company, you can see your interactive marketing efforts begin to take off quickly.
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