In this article, you'll learn...
- Strengths and weaknesses of social network Google+
- How Facebook and Twitter compare with Google+
- What's in store for the future of social networks
A few weeks into Google+, and most at least know of the new social networking site, even if they haven't joined yet. Still resisting? Based on its current growth rate, you may want to jump in sooner rather than later.
Below, I compare and contrast the network properties and social principles behind the most popular social platforms.
Facebook's utility comes from helping users simply maintain all of the relationships in their lives. However, real-world relationships are complex. Not every relationship is the same, and every friend is unique. By collapsing all the different relationships into one bucket of "friends," Facebook created the problem of conflicting social spheres. Some groups just don't mix in real life, and some information is not for all friends—regardless of how close your relationship is.
Offline, people deal with that problem by spatial-temporal segregation. We simply meet different groups of people at different places and times. But on Facebook, we're stuck; we either don't share, or share with everyone. Although Facebook subsequently implemented features that allow users to place friends into groups, those features were Band-Aid fixes that didn't drive adoption. Google+ addresses that problem with Circles.
Friendship on Facebook is bidirectional, requiring both parties' consent to connect. Anyone can initiate the connection, but the other person must accept it to create a tie. Those mutual, reciprocal "friendships" help keep the relationships and content on Facebook relevant. As a result, the signal-to-noise ratio on Facebook is fairly high compared with other networks that require only unidirectional consent, such as Twitter.
However, bidirectional consent is not without cost. One of its drawbacks is that it requires the coordination and alignment of intent between two people. That is harder to achieve than it may seem and it limits a network's growth rate.