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Google+ vs Facebook - Who will win?

Google+ is Google's latest attempt to take some of the social network from Facebook.


Now that I have Google+ I thought it would be interesting to do a short little comparison. It is fairly obvious that Google is trying their hand at social networking and hoping to dive into Facebook's market. It will be interesting to see if that can actually happen.

As an evaluation, I decided to list the features that people use on Facebook and compare them to Google+

Reasons people use Facebook (in no particular order):

  • To see what their friends are doing
  • To post what they are doing in life in hopes that someone will care and comment on it
  • Stalking people
  • Look at photos and videos
  • General communication with others
  • Planning and attending events
  • Connecting with childhood friends/relatives/people we don't know etc
  • Specify connections and settings. Privacy. Notifications.
Before I begin this comparison, I feel I should make a few statements:
I have nothing against Facebook; in fact, I think it is a wonderful tool and I use it every day. I don't think it is perfect, but I really don't care too much. It is powerful because everyone uses it. I should also note that while I am going to try to be completely realistic in my comparison, I AM heavily Google biased. Hopefully, I will be able to set my biases aside, but you should at least know that they are there.

Now; onto the comparison!

Google+ Stream and Facebook News Feed are basically the same.
Facebook has News Feed. Google+ has Stream

The News Feed is where most people go when they first log into Facebook. They see what their friends are doing. They see pictures and comments etc. Google+ Stream is nearly identical. Stream and News Feed are so identical that I am going to say that neither is better than the other. One thing I will mention though is that editing comments in Google+ is a bit nicer. If you misspell a word or need to change something in a post or comment, you can edit those things quite easily whereas in Facebook you must delete then recreate the post or comment if you mess up. 

Winner =  Tie

Sharing Your Status or Links

Again; Facebook and Google+ are nearly identical in this regard. Facebook wants to know "What's on your mind?" while Google+ wants you to "Share whats new." Sharing comments, photos, videos and links are essentially the same though. One thing that give Google+ a slight advantage though is how it makes it easy to share things with different "circles" of friends. Say for instance I have a link that only my family would understand, I can easily share with just my family. Cool beans.

Winner = Google+

Stalking

Though we may not want to admit it, we have all done it. We use Facebook to stalk people. See pictures of people we have just met, check relationship statuses for people we want to date, find out where people are living etc...

Just for fun, I tried stalking Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Information in Google+ shows up the same way that it does in Facebook. The obvious difference and main advantage of Facebook is that the more people that use the product, the easier it will be to stalk.


Winner = Facebook


Viewing Photos and Videos

Google+ has a fantastic way to upload, edit and view photos!
I am going to ignore videos for now since I simply don't do much with video and just focus on photos.

This is something I can easily say is better in Google+. Don't even need to think about it. I was blown away with the comparison. It is just more fun and organized in Google+. More options for editing, tagging, viewing etc. Let me break it down:

Viewing Photos Winner = Google+  When you view a photo album, the thumbnails are larger, yet they are still able to show just as many thumbnails on the screen because of how they are organized. Hovering over a photo will increase the size.

Viewing Photo Information Winner = Google+ Not only is Google+ great at showing comments on photos, you can view actual photo information (such as what camera was used, exposure, ISO etc). Not a huge deal, but awesome if you are a photographer. 

Facebook seems super boring after spending just a minute with photos in Google+
Editing Photos Winner = Google+ While Google+ does not offer a ton of options, it still offers more than Facebook. 

Photo uploading Winner = Google+  Not really much of a difference, but I think it looks pretty cool in Google+

View camera info
Photo Storage Winner = Facebook   This is one area where I think Facebook still wins. This is actually a huge thing for me. Facebook apparently has no photo upload limit. It appears that Google is still restricting you to the 1gb they give you using Picasa web albums. Maybe this is not the case or will change in the future. I checked out my Picasa web albums and it says "You are currently using 64 MB (6.33%) of your 1024 MB." The thing is though... I am pretty sure I am using much more than 64 MB. So Picasa may be in the process of changing something here...


Photo Storage Winner = Tie

I thought that Google+ would restrict the storage space of your photos, but it turns out they just changed their policy. Images of a certain size do not count toward your quota (which would explain how my Picasa magically said I was only using 64mb). If your image is too large and your quota is full, Google+ will just scale down the image for you and still add it!

So even though I think Google+ is better in every regard except file storage, that is a big enough deal that I am actually going to declare this one a tie. No matter how cool the Google+ settings are, if they prevent me from uploading more photos, I won't care about features anymore. 

Easily edit photos.

Photo viewing winner = Google+
Photo sharing winner = Facebook
Photo sharing winner = Tie

Overall Photo Winner = Google+

General Communication With Others

The way I see it, there are a few different methods of communication that I will break this down into:

Posting on a News Feed (or Stream). Winner = Tie. Basically the same.
Surprisingly, email in Google+ is quite boring.
Sending an Email. Winner = Facebook.  It seems that Google+ just uses your existing Gmail address. This is fine and makes sense, but I noticed that all of my friends had an option to be emailed. Not quite sure why this is. The main gripe I have with this is that if I am in Google+ and want to access email, I don't want to have to go to Gmail for that. I just want to access everything right there.  Maybe I am missing something here. Really Google? You couldn't have integrated something a little more with email? Weird.

Chatting. Winner = Google+  The only reason I am giving Google+ the win for this is because of the ability to do multi video chat. As for your standard chat, Google+ uses what you already have in Gmail. Facebook is nice because you can turn on and off different groups for chat. I love this feature. I am not big into chat and it is nice to be able to turn it off for almost everyone but a select few. 

While Google+ and Facebook more or less allow you to use the same communication methods (Google+ one upped Facebook with their video chat), it comes down to preference. I think Google+ main advantage here is their video chat whereas Facebook does a pretty great job with email. 

Overall Communication Winner = Tie

Planning and Attending Events

One of the main reasons I signed up for Facebook was to provide a way where I could get groups together to play Ultimate Frisbee. Most of my friends now getting married post it on Facebook before you would find out any other way. Facebook certainly is great for this sort of thing. So how does Google+ compare? Not well. Maybe I am missing something here, but I don't even see a way where this is possible in Google+.  At any rate, if Google+ DOES have this ability, they should make it easier to find. Facebook is the clear winner here.

Winner = Facebook


Connecting With People

This was the other main reason I signed up for Facebook back in the day. I was getting ready to move and I wanted to keep in contact with the friends I currently had. There is virtually no difference with how that works in Facebook and with Google+ other than the obvious fact that Facebook has millions more people that you can connect with. Not a completely fair assessment because Google+ is so new, but realistically, this is going to be perhaps the biggest hurdle for Google+ to jump over. Facebook has a huge head start.

Winner = Facebook

Notifications, Privacy and Settings

Notifications are basically the same. On Facebook they are on the left; Google+ the right. Google+ does add a few more options that are nice. Privacy and settings are basically the same as well. You can specify privacy to whatever you want. 

Winner = Tie

Facebook Friend Groups vs Google+ Circles

Both Facebook and Google+ allow you to organize your friends into groups (or circles). Google+ does this better. It is easier to do and there is more reason to do it. You can share or video chat with Circles. You can basically customize everything using your circles.
Circles seems kind of odd at first, but is a fantastic feature of Google+

Winner = Google+

Conclusion

Facebook = 3 wins
Google+ = 2 wins
Google+ = 3 wins

My general overall impression is this: Google+ is awesome. Everything they have done, they have done very well. It is obvious they are copying Facebook, but in the process, they have made some great improvements. While this is the case, the reality remains that Facebook is king. I don't know if a few improvements will be able to put a dent into the Facebook market. Google+ will only become valuable if people start using it. This is the biggest obstacle that Google faces.  There are a few things that I think are still perhaps a bit better in Facebook (Photo storage, emails and chats and events), but overall, I think Google+ has a nice new polish with great features that most people will appreciate.

If you have not yet signed up for Google+ you should definitely give it a try!

About McKay Christensen

After having lived in Oregon, Alaska, and China for the past 10 years doing landscape design and English teaching, I have returned to my home state of Utah and currently work for a growing tech company.

In my free time I enjoy working on my TutorialGeek.net website where I post tutorials and reviews (and anything else I think is geeky) and I also like to write songs for my Super English Kid Youtube channel.

My favorite things to do include anything with my wife and son. Hiking, camping, and photography (or anything else outdoors). Playing Ultimate Frisbee or Ping Pong. Listening to 60s, 70s, or 80s, music. 

Feel free to contact me using my contact page. I would love to hear from any of you!

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the info! (Link Here). That definitely is a big plus for Google+ I am going to go ahead and update my post now!

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  2. Thanks for the post. I have just put up the Google+ sharing button on my blog posts as I suspect that once released, it will become popular. (Certainly more popular than Google Buzz.)

    Cheers!

    John Zimmer
    http://mannerofspeaking.org

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  3. This is awesome info Mckay! I had no idea about Google+ until I read this. I'm wondering if you know if either of them offer a tool that would allow you to block certain people from tagging you in pictures. People that you still want to be friends with, but have no taste when it comes to posting crappy pictures of you? lol Right now the only thing I can do with facebook is untag myself in the picture once it's already been tagged for everyone to see. (I hate it.) Anyway, thanks for the cool post!
    Have a Fab Day!
    Alisha

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  4. Alisha; I am pretty sure that in Google+ you must personally approve tags of you before they show up publicly. Not 100% sure, but I did read that somewhere.

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  5. Wow thanks I was wondering what are the different beside the circles (which I think are great). In general I think it's king of a trend and people like to play with new toys (same as it works for Ipad and Ipad2.0).

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  6. Do you have any new records about that? For now it looks like facebook went on renovating the wall trying to catch with google changes. I can't see many of my friends migrating to Google+ so meantime I have them both.

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  7. Did you have a chance to check the app version for smart phone? I'm trying to catch up with iphone news but in this case the application seems to be poor isn't?

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