Does Google+ make Facebook the new MySpace?

Google+ has the potential to topple the Facebook behemoth but it needs to be much better than Facebook to do so.
Written by Ken Hess on

It might. The answer lies with Google. It won't take a lot of convincing for geeks to switch from Facebook to Google+ but for Ma and Pa Kettle, well, that's a different story. Huey, Dewey and Louie Kettle will use both for a while but will end up gravitating to Google+, which might well turn Facebook into the next MySpace. Why? Because Google+ is cooler. Much cooler. Or, at least it could be.

The real question is, "Do we need another social networking outlet." The answer is, "No, we absolutely do not." We need a social networking outlet that's actually social in nature. I know that's a crazy idea but apparently what I think of as social is not what the general public thinks of as social. I see social networking as interacting, talking, discussing and not simply posting pictures and comments for others to comment on. People have a need to be social--really social.

Google+ is on the right track with some of their features.

By now you've read about Circles and Hangouts and how you can group people you "friend" into Friends, Acquaintances and Family--so I won't bother with rehashing that for you.

But, what makes Google+ so much more compelling than Facebook, if it isn't those features?

It's Google.

Like Apple, Google has that special something that you can't quite put your finger on that makes it irresistible. The French call it, "Je ne sais quois," which translates to, "I don't know what." It's what makes certain products and services so good that we must have them and use them, though we're not sure why.

I've tried hating Apple. I've made fun of the one-button mouse for years. I've tried to hate Google too. But, there's nothing better than GMail. Google's search engine is the best. It's that same thing that makes us hate Microsoft Windows but we still use it. It's that elusive thing that would make me a billionaire if I could crack the code.

We used to love MySpace. Nothing was cooler than MySpace. Now we make fun of it. We scoff at anyone who still mentions it with a positive tone.

Facebook will have the same fate as MySpace, if Google plays the game correctly. Facebook will become an albatross and we'll make fun of it. We'll laugh at ourselves for ever having used it. Instead of admitting our early adoption of it, we'll brag about being one of the early bailouts from its now sunken hull. And, Google+ will cast its long shadow upon what was once Facebook's grand illusion.

But, what will it take to convince a half billion Facebook users to switch to Google+?

I have some ideas.

  • Make it really easy to use - make it easier than it is now. It's kind of like switching from Windows to Linux. People won't do it, if they don't understand it.
  • Make it easy to switch - copy their pictures, friends, games and all other Facebook info to Google+.
  • Give people a compelling reason to switch - Develop features that Facebook doesn't have. I have some examples below.
  • Keep security and privacy at the top of the list - Facebook has had too many security flaws. Keep Google+ safe and sane.
  • Change the name from Google+ to Plus - The name Google+ doesn't flow well. Plus is better. Better yet, have a contest to rename it, reward the winner handsomely. I don't think you should use FaceGoo. That won't sell.
  • Grant exclusive live chatback interviews to your favorite ZDNet writer (It had better be me) to discuss Google+ and its new features.

I really think you, Google, should pay me for these ideas but I won't hold my breath waiting for the check (but I do have a number in mind), so here they are as I've thought of them. And, don't tell me you've already thought of all of them because I know you haven't.

  1. Channels - Almost a ustream setup where Plussers can go to get live entertainment. Are you guys buying Hulu? Might be a good use of that. Make my expensive cable TV obsolete, please.
  2. Venues - Where Plussers can go for Coffee House entertainment from amateurs. Comedy, poetry and indie music.
  3. Film Fests - A place where independent filmmakers can pitch their movies, show their movies and discuss movies.
  4. Forums - Rooms where discussions can take place. Plussers can use these rooms as virtual conference rooms for all kinds of purposes.
  5. Town Halls - A place where Plussers can have live talkbacks with their local, state and federal politicians.
  6. Celebrity Chat - Authors, TV personalities and Film stars can sit down and talk with their fans. A talk show without a host.
  7. Classrooms - Allow entire classrooms to be conducted online. Secondary, college and adult education all brought to you by Google+.
  8. Trade Shows - Who wouldn't love to go to a virtual trade show? Let me have the ability to connect to a trade show and visit booths virtually.

Make social networking a truly social experience. Facebook is not social. It's an online forum that needs a good squashing. It should pass into annals of Internet history as a fad that didn't make the cut. It would have really worked better about a decade ago. Today, not so much. Yes, Facebook is popular but it falls short of what we really need--the need to be social.


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