Google+ vs. Facebook: Which one will be the definitive contacts hub?

Summary:Facebook definitively won over MySpace as the dominant social network, and it really could only take a powerhouse like Google to present a challenge at this point in time. Who will come out as the de facto choice for social networking?

Facebook definitively won over MySpace as the dominant social network, and it really could only take a powerhouse like Google to present a challenge at this point in time.

But really, there are too many choices now as to where to look up contacts, share links and photos, and update status messages. Where will it all end? And who will come out as the de facto choice for social networking?

The easy answer would seem to be Facebook. It's the status quo of social networking with over 500 million members strong - possibly 750 million at this point.

However, Facebook isn't beloved by everyone, including its own subscriber base. In fact, it was just placed in a top 10 list of the most hated companies in America. You know it's bad when your company in that group includes airlines and cable companies.

Additionally, every time Facebook rolls out a face lift to its user interface or new features seen as threats to privacy, there's always an inevitable and very loud backlash.

On the other hand, Google has certainly found itself targeted by users and been criticized about privacy settings and issues. And not every Google release has found an fan base. Remember Google Wave? We'd prefer not to.

However, Google has presented the first serious challenge to Facebook in years with a platform that doesn't look that far off from Facebook itself. It also integrates several of Google's existing features, such as Buzz and Gchat.

Google+ has already caught on remarkably quickly for a new social networking tool set that is still running on an invite-only basis, but that's because it has the brand name and the force to roll out a complex (yet seemingly simple) platform.

The problem with the Google+ launch is that we have yet another place now to look for contacts, share photos, and update status messages. I feel like I have to update Twitter, Facebook and Google+ all the time now. (Yes, Tweets can be configured to go to Buzz and Facebook automatically, but I'd prefer if every tweet didn't do that. It gets very annoying to friends and clogs up the News Feed.)

I don't want to have to update and search through two social media sites all the time. I'd rather just use one. The simplest way to resolve this would be to have some kind of plug-in application that automatically shares updates between the two platforms, but given that Google and Facebook are going head-to-head here, that seems like an unlikely solution.

Additionally, I don't know if I should update my status on Google Buzz or directly on the Google+ news feed. Buzz updates do appear in a Circles profile, but they get relegated to the back end under a different tab. So if I want my friends to see it, where should I put it? These might sound like ridiculous and trivial questions (which they are), but they are actually important when it comes to the business of social media.

However, Google does make it easier to find contacts as it just lifts them from one's Gmail account, or even from Yahoo and Hotmail address books. (Although, the problem here is that I now have to clean up my contacts folder as multiple email accounts are popping up for the same people. I'll have to consolidate them to make things easier rather the system sending out an email each time to the same person "Rachel King has added you on Google+" That seems stalkerish.)

On Facebook, users have to enter names manually one by one to find new friends. Facebook members who have been on the site for years don't have this problem as they've already been adding people constantly. Those who are new to Facebook (whoever out there is left) will have a harder time building a contacts base.

At this point, there isn't an answer to this puzzle. Google+ makes building a contacts base easier, but most people are already accustomed to Facebook. I find it hard to believe that Facebook would fall to Google any time soon - if ever.

Yes, Google+ has presented a fresh challenge to Mark Zuckerberg's social network. But it's going to take a considerable amount of time before Google+ can be considered the default choice in sharing media and keeping track of contacts.

Related:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Google

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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