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Facebook vs Google+
Google already won. Facebook didn't get the memo.

Apparently neither did a huge swath of #SEO  people...

There is a really good reason I chose Google+ (and even joined the beta) over Facebook, and while it's really involved, I'll try my best to explain it below:

In 2011, Eric Schmidt (Google) flatly said in no uncertain terms that #GooglePlus  is an identity service first and foremost, and that social media was just a side effect of that. Still, in 2014, people are complaining that Google+ is being "forced" on them for unrelated services like Youtube, Gmail, and pretty much anything that Google owns as a service or product.

The problem is, it's not unrelated because Google+ is doing exactly what they intended it to be doing from the beginning - Being the central dashboard for your Identity Management across all services and products.

Even more curious is that in order for the "Facebook is better" argument to have any relevance, people who do the metrics have to ignore a majority of the metrics (tying Google's hands behind their back) to make it a "fair fight". That's pretty bad when you have to hog-tie your opponent to beat them.

"Well, if you ignore all the other things that Google ties Google+ into and just focus on the social media part, then Facebook comes out a total winner and Google+ isn't even worth your time because 'it's a ghost town'"

Well yeah... because you're ignoring 90% of what Google+ is actually about in order to focus on the one thing that Google themselves blatantly said it wasn't about. Which is a lot like having to strip a Ferrari down to just four tires in order to prove that your Station Wagon is far superior. Also, calling Google+ a ghost town is disingenuous at best... You simply just don't know anyone here yet, and haven't taken the time to engage - much like when you arrive in a new town and don't know anyone. You're making a fresh start and cannot expect anyone to know you out of the gate... how popular you are on Facebook makes no difference on Google+ because your reputation from Facebook does not proceed you.

Forbes Article about this:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2011/08/29/googles-eric-schmidt-says-plus-is-an-identity-service-not-a-social-network/

But the bigger thing here is that the debate is pointless to begin with. #Facebook  and Google+ are entirely different things. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum. In this "debate" we're comparing a social media platform to a complete identity service. We're comparing something on the Internet that lets you play Farmville with something that is built for the Internet of Things and lets you log into your Nexus 7 Tablet and probably a Self Driving Car later on.

Facebook charges you to reach a wide audience while Google pays you to do that (AdSense). It's not in the best interest for Facebook to let you reach a wide audience while it's absolutely beneficial for Google to foster that in every conceivable fashion.

Facebook has put all of its chips on simply being a social media outlet, while Google redefined the social media context as an identity dashboard that reaches into every conceivable part of the ecosystem and into real life.

For every service that Facebook offers that makes you pay for abilities (like adding somebody to your friends list or simply letting people who follow you actually see your content), Google offers a better equivalent for free and even pays people for using them successfully or rewards people for participating.

It's literally like night and day.

People complain that Google+ is tied into everything Google does and tries to explain that it's because G+ is failing as a social media, but in reality they misunderstand the actual context. G+ isn't a failed social media, it's a ridiculously successful identity management and relevance system. The same identity that lets you log into Chrome Browser/Chromebook, your Android Tablet, Smartphone, Chromecast, Google Maps, Google Now, Glass, Wallet, Play account, Drive, and probably Google Self Driving Cars and your Nest Home Automation in the future.

What Google is, is an entire digital ecosystem from cradle to grave that touches nearly every single part of your life and lets you manage that through a single identity service known as Google+. It tailors search results for you, it keeps track of your habits and makes suggestions to bring you relevant information before you need it (if you let it), it learns what is spam and what is important to save you time.

And one day, you'll open your android tablet, log in and with a simple "Ok Google, I need a car", that tablet or wearable will know where you are, know who you are, tell a self driving car this information, debit your wallet, and use Google Maps to let the car know where it needs to take you, while suggesting you stop by the store on your way there (Google Now) because you might be out of milk based on your habits. 

It'll tell you how long the trip is going to be, and if there is a detour. It'll alert your friends if you're going to be late en-route because it noticed you are going to a scheduled event from your Google Calendar or Google+ Events, and if you're feeling particularly froggy it'll let you take that video conference call on the way there or watch Youtube recommendations.

The most important part of the above scenario is that the infrastructure exists right now to enable it all. I'd love to hear any SEO person on Earth try to tell me how much of the above Facebook can do, and how Facebook is far more powerful or relevant than Google.

The truth is, Facebook is the big fish in the small pond while Google+ is focusing on being the whale in the ocean. Facebook excels (for now) at being big in the social media niche... and Google+ is excelling at being much, much more powerful than that as an Identity Service. 

There is no Facebook smartphone. No search engine, no video service, no self-driving car. There is no Facebook Voice to let you make free calls and there is no free video conference calls. There is no Facebook Now, or wearable device for Facebook AR. There are no Facebook laptops or Facebook Cloud storage. No Facebook Docs or unified media store. No Facebook Tablets... 

Google is a total ecosystem that is diversifying into all parts of our lives to make it better from beginning to end (if we allow it) while Facebook is a social media site that is squeezing every dollar it can out of what it has right now in order to stay profitable. In the Google ecosystem, it benefits Google if they encourage you to use the ecosystem to its fullest and they even offer to pay you for doing so.

Facebook is the total opposite.

Facebook bet on the Internet while Google is betting on The Internet of Things. This is why Google+ is far more relevant in 2014 than Facebook.

If we want to see what a declining social media service looks like, then it's Facebook. One does not have to look too far to see all of the SEO people coming over to G+ to fish for Facebook relevance, and that's telling in and of itself. If you want to see what an expanding identity service and total ecosystem looks like, look at Google. They bought out seven robotics companies and funded lab grown meat. They owned Motorola and sold it, keeping the patent portfolio.

What Google is doing with Google+ makes absolute sense and it's brilliant. It makes a social media service into something more, so that it remains relevant and even more useful and important in the future of everything, while Facebook is trying to figure out how to get themselves out of the corner they painted themselves into going in the opposite direction, and so are the SEO folks who went all in with Facebook promotion.

With Google+, you just happened to get a social media service along with it, but that was just an after effect. In the context of digital identity and services, it means more than a cat post... it means everything.

And this is where I take a moment to explain how important it is to participate in Google+ in a sincere and engaging manner if you choose to use anything that Google offers. The reason Google+ prefers (very strongly) that you use a real identity is because in order for any of that Internet of Things to work correctly, it actually needs to be able to identity you reasonably.

This isn't about the validity of you posting cat pictures... this is about whether the Nest home automation system (recently bought by Google) can call 911 if your house is burning down and tell the Fire Department your information or if it's going to tell them your made-up information that you put into Google+ out of protest. It's about whether your car in the future just knows who you are automatically and lets you drive it. It's about your doors unlocking at home and the entire system adjusting to your preferences when you get there. It's about an Internet of Things where your refrigerator automatically schedules home delivery of your groceries on a regular basis and alerts you on your tablet to confirm the order while telling you when the delivery will be there while paying for your groceries automatically based on your Google+ profile because it also has Billing Information and Google Wallet.

It's much, much, bigger than Facebook out of the gate and the repercussions and implications are astounding.

Not some cartoon character virtual identity of pseudonym or anonymous obfuscation, but the real you. Now, that doesn't mean that you have to proclaim to the world publicly all this information... no, you just need to set that up in Google+ and make it visible only to yourself and Google. The rest of the world (for all it matters) can know you as simply your Pseudonym but in the back-end it needs to know the real you behind the pseudonym.

An identity service doesn't work if you're signing Mickey Mouse on everything.

Of course,  you can protest this and refuse to use any of it... that's entirely in your right. But as time goes forward, it's going to get harder and harder to avoid it and it'll likely be detrimental if you do.

Google+ is based on the NSTIC initiative -

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) is a White House initiative to work collaboratively with the private sector, advocacy groups, public sector agencies, and other organizations to improve the privacy, security, and convenience of sensitive online transactions.

Source: http://www.nist.gov/nstic/about-nstic.html

Your best bet is to build a trusted identity, because the alternative is that you become an untrusted identity and that means you'll get sent to the bottom of the pile for everything.

It's your choice still... but don't say nobody warned you.

Acknowledgements

This is for +Jeremiah Townsend who suggested I make a similar comment in a thread into a full post on its own (here ya go, boss), and +Matthew J Price who brought up the original topic (I think about the likely demise of Facebook by 2017)
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6 comments
 
That was the most clearly thought out and well-put post I have ever seen. Well done, indeed, my friend.
 
Thanks for expanding on your original post +Will Burns .  Should be a sticky for when someone joins Google+.
 
Wow.. I think it's the first time I've seen a post of mine translated into another language for an international community... Google+ Brasil. A little rough on the overall meaning, but I think it gets most of the point across...
 
Like I said... Well written. Thus deserving of translation etc. ;-)