Facebook has been in the news a lot lately ahead of it - today - becoming a publicly traded company on the stock market. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought in light of both that, and also a new statistic just out suggesting that as many people use Facebook today as used the Internet in 2004. Crazy.
Despite the growth of both Twitter and Google+, neither of these have come close to the level of ubiquitous use that there is of Facebook.
Everyone (more or less) uses Facebook; niche groups use Twitter and Google+. And in that sense, Facebook has become almost like email. It is now - socially at least - the default means of communicating and staying in touch with people.
But rather like email in the workplace, Facebook has gone from being a new, exciting means of communication to something you feel you have to use. Just like email, the joy has gone. We’d like a better alternative (lots of us tried Google+), but we don’t see one. We’d like to drop Facebook in the same way we wish we could scrap email—but we can’t. We don’t really have a choice.
The challenge for Facebook is to discover if they can keep making money when - for so many of us - using Facebook is a function rather than a joy.
I like the look of this new site called If This Then That (IFTTT). In theory it is everything I’m looking for. I have blog posts and links that I like to share across various different platforms ranging from Google+ to Facebook to Twitter. And so this seems ideal. Sadly though, it still doesn’t do enough for me.
I said in theory above because, in reality, I’m very pernickety when it comes to social sharing. I want everything to look just right for the platform that I’m sharing on. And that typically requires a level of customisation that simply isn’t available with IFTTT or any of the cross platform social sharing tools.
So, after spending a bit of time playing around with it, I’m going to stick to manually posting all the content I want to share on each of the different platforms I engage with.
For others, I can imagine this being a really useful tool so I do definitely recommend giving it a try. It could definitely save you some time.
If you don’t yet have Google+, use this link to subscribe.
I’ve been using Google+ for about two weeks now and have now formed few more established thoughts about it.
Those of you who know me or have added me to your circles will know that I have been very positive about it. I like it, I really do. I think it brings together the best of the worlds of both Twitter and Facebook: I can share privately to family and friends, but I can also share publicly to anyone who chooses to follow me (and anything else in between depending on the circles I create and share with).
So I do genuinely feel that Google+ has a real shot at success as a major player in the social networking scene. I don’t expect it to wipe out Twitter or Facebook any time soon - but I do think it will make some serious inroads.
That said, I still think that a lot of people will struggle to see a compelling reason to transition to or even setup a Google+ profile. There are two types of people in the world: those who love meeting new people, and those who are happy with the friends and family they already have.
If you’re on Facebook happily sharing with your established family and friends, why would you move to Google+ to do the same thing (in a slightly different way) with the very same people?
This is why - initially at least - I think it will be people from Twitter who transition to Google+ much more naturally than your average, non Twitter using Facebook user.
People on Twitter are used to meeting new people and following people they don’t know. Facebook users only connect with people they know. And there will be a lot of Facebook users trying out Google+, seeing hardly anyone they know there (yet), and not knowing what to do. That is a big hurdle that Google+ has to overcome.
I do think the future is bright for Google+, and it is already taking off faster than any other social network in history. But for people who are only interested in connecting with people they already know, the barriers to entry are very high.
Robert Scoble has posted several interesting tweets today that seem to indicated that the Twitter integration into iOS will be much more than just photo sharing as already has been reported.
In his own words:
Next week will be a huge week for those of us who have lived on Twitter for last few years. Apple is building Twitter in deeply into iOS5.
And when he was asked whether he had specific inside information on this, he had this to say:
Yes. I know someone who built the Twitter integration into iOS5 and I believe him when he says I’ll love it.
This is undoubtedly big news. But imagine if the same was to happen with Facebook. Now that would be really huge.