Google+ VP Picks Fight with Facebook

Google+ VP Picks Fight With FacebookFacebook, the world’s most adopted social networking platform was alone at the top for quite a few years. It crushed other platforms like MySpace and has reached over 1 billion users. People, corporations, small businesses, and agencies all use the social giant to communicate with friends, family, and customers, build brands, advertise, and share ideas.

It didn’t take long for one company to enter the social networking world. Google released a contender in what would become a David-and-Goliath-like battle of the social networking field: Google+. Recently, Google+ Vice President Bradley Horowitz decided to liven this competition with trash talk of his main rival’s service.

What Horowitz Said about Facebook

Now, no one really knows if David and Goliath did any trash talking, but in my modern version of the tale, Horowitz is the one casting David – err… Google+’s – first stone, so to speak. According to Shara Tibken at CNet, at a Business Insider conference, Bradley Horowitz called Facebook “the social network of the past,” said its “advertising doesn’t really work,” and that Facebook simply “isn’t set up in a way that’s compatible with the real world.”

Them’s fighting words if you ask me, but Horowitz didn’t stop there.  Ryan Tate at Wired writes about Horowitz’s more damning criticisms of Facebook’s recent monetization moves. He writes that Horowitz sees Google+ as an ideal social network because it does not have its “[users] most human moments interrupted by ‘the monetization agenda’ of profit-hungry social networks.” By “profit-hungry social networks” Horowitz clearly means Facebook and recent changes in its advertising system.

Horowitz was specific about certain aspects of Facebook’s strategy and design while touting the Google+ platform as being clean, mostly ad-free, and focused on the conversations people have with each other. There is obviously a philosophical difference in the way Google and Facebook approach their social networks. Horowitz is a big picture kind of guy.

Big Picture Differences

At the Business Insider conference, Horowitz spent a lot of time discussing the human aspect of social networking. He feels that Facebook is losing touch with its users due to its focus on monetization, while Google+ is still about the human element of social networking.

This is a primary concern for users ­– if the platform doesn’t relate or annoys people due to ads and other issues, people will stop using it. But for agencies, this is just one of many issues to consider when using these social networking platforms to benefit clients.

It’s hard to say no to a network with 1 billion users and close to that number in active users. Google+, on the other hand, has only 400 million members with 100 million monthly active users, according to Stan Schroeder for Mashable in September.

Legitimate Criticism? Maybe

To Horowitz’s credit, Facebook has been undergoing an aggressive monetization agenda since its stock went into freefall after going public in May. Months of changes have pleased Wall Street, the latest of which I wrote about on the CEM Blog. There hasn’t been much user backlash from the changes either.

I have seen more ads and posts from businesses popping up in my news feed lately. It’s not annoying at the frequency it occurs now, but I do think Facebook needs to be careful about how much it lets monetization and Wall Street drive how it develops its platform.

In the end, as Casey Newton at CNet suggests in a great opinion piece about this story, both of these social networks can co-exist. Neither David nor Goliath has to win. That means more opportunity and more ways to reach others. That’s good for agencies and their clients, small businesses, and most of all, people.

Do you think Horowitz has a legitimate criticism of Facebook? Will Google+ “win” in the end?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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