Google+ has a new secret weapon… its called Facebook

March 01, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   8 Comments

In December last year something profound happened: Facebook’s subsidiary, Instagram, announced a change to their terms of service that gave them the rights to commercialize user photos in whichever way they saw fit.

While the motivation behind it may be understandable (services need to be profitable), a battle scarred public, already weary of historic Facebook terms of service changes, saw the idea of no longer owning their photos as a significant betrayal of trust. The response from users was immediate with floods of people deleting their images, and accounts, and fleeing to the perceived safety of a resurrected Flickr and overlooked new kid, EyeEm.

The stampede for the door prompted an immediate about-face from Instagram who reinstated the 2010 terms of service to stem the exodus. Yet the fragility of Instagram’s assumed unassailability was exposed through the abundance of viable alternatives.   The foundation of trust that underpinned the Facebook community was shaken to its core.

Shift focus now to Google.  Recently there have been a few articles about the stratospheric rise of Google+. I personally suspect talk of stratospheric uptake is rubbish but the Instagram experience may hold the key to how Facebook will eventually be dethroned.

I use Google+ occasionally. Initially it was out of curiosity, but now I use it when I need a break from the noise of Facebook. However inevitably, my aversion to Facebook wanes and back I go.

Whats been really interesting from dipping in and out of Google+ is the friends who remain active. From my observations, the main group of friends that really drive platform activity are the contrarians ie people who take a subtle pride in going against the grain (I’m one of them… grudgingly).

Historically Google+ has been the Sheldon Cooper of the social media world i.e. brilliant theoretically, but socially awkward. At its launch Google+ felt more like technical feat than a behavioral platform.

But since this time Google+ has been diligently working behind the scenes to improve the experience by building an ecosystem that corrals users from its more popular products eg Gmail. They have done very well to direct, blend and merge their existing services into Google+ but aside from the contrarians the rise in user numbers has hardly been an adoption of choice.

Yet Google+ is getting better and better and, like a tiger stalking its way through the undergrowth, the better its positioning, the more damage it has the chance to cause.

The same could be said of My Space. My Space certainly felt the sting of irrelevance as the rise of Facebook drained its member-base; Flickr must have felt the same way as the world went mobile with Instagram. Yet here we are a few years down the track and even My Space is stalking their way back.

The point is that until recently Facebook hasn’t really had any viable competitors, and as a result has been able to make changes to its terms of service with virtual impunity. I’m sure that those in Facebook have known about the danger of complacency for a long time now. However from an end-user perspective we now have viable alternatives to Facebook, and all that’s missing to spark the exodus, is a reason…

Scott (31 Posts)

CEO Digital Infusions

8 Comments for this entry

    March 2nd, 2013 on 6:25 PM

    Thanks for the post Scott. I will have to dip my toe in as you did to Google+. Given the ability to shift platforms and the alternatives that exist I think there will be a rise in ways of extracting data about users to ensure profitability that doesn’t involve pages from Shell for you to ‘Like’ appearing at the top of the feed.

    March 2nd, 2013 on 6:28 PM

    Great info Scott, as always. This has really opened my eyes…yet again

      March 2nd, 2013 on 6:31 PM

      Thanks Marg 🙂

    March 2nd, 2013 on 9:52 PM

    Great article, I too have been lurking on google + for some time. My intrest is sparked again to look into these changes. Agreed with shamish, over the advertising

    March 3rd, 2013 on 9:37 AM

    Hey good article Scott.

    It has got me wondering though? I still remember something said about great hardware i.e. Apple Mac. Apple made the time to make them the best computer that money can buy (and here’s the invariable but) but no-one except Architects and Designers buy/use them. Why is that? Even when we all say we want quality?

    It comes down to the same thing every time, marketing and visibility. We all see Facebook and use it predominantly not because it’s the best platform but moreso because it’s the most well know and prolifically used.

    Food for thought… Thank you

      March 3rd, 2013 on 10:17 AM

      You’ve definitely gotta point Yvette… Time will tell… I could see a point though where people splinter their activity across a number of platforms to connect with different groups

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