Is Google+ the New Facebook?

Just when you thought you got the hang of the Facebook social media blitz, Google+ starts becoming popular. But is Google+ the new Facebook? Does it do everything that Facebook does? Are people using it?

The answers are complex and a bit surprising.

Facebook's Competition?

Those who are already on board with Facebook are likely to groan, "Not another social media site!" And with good reason. If you take a look at all the social media sites out there, you are likely to be overwhelmed. Sure, there are sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Reddit, but there are also a host of other social networks. Google+ received two reactions when it first came out in 2011: Facebook Killer, and It's a Little Too Late.

Not surprisingly, both statements ring true. When Google+ came out in 2011, it looked remarkably like Facebook. PCWorld did a nice presentation of comparison between the two social media giants. Those who were on Facebook probably looked at Google+ with some dismay. It appeared to do exactly the same thing Facebook did, but did not have as many users. At the same time, those who truly hated Facebook had a reason for bailing--and hoped that Google would produce a platform worthy of lessening traffic to Facebook.

Second Behind Facebook?

According to The Business Insider in May 2013, Google+ is now the second largest social media platform, even outpacing Twitter. Google+ claimed it had 359 million users, up 33 percent from the year before. However, Social Media Today brings about another point, that those figures do not tell the whole story, and that those numbers account for all users and not a comparison of activity or usage. Google, in fact, has been hard to pin down because of changes made to platforms that caused merging and thus, it is almost impossible to verify data at this point.

In fact, despite reported statistics, it is doubtful that Google+ has surpassed Twitter. According to an article on Tech Crunch, Pew Research Center claims that most people do not even know what Google+ or G+ is, and cannot distinguish it from other Google services. The Pew Research Center did not even bother putting Google+ in its survey. The Pew survey showed that 67 percent of surveyed adults use Facebook, 16 percent use Pinterest, and 15 percent use Twitter. 

Google+ Advantages Over Facebook

That is not to say that Google+ does not have advantages over Facebook. It does appear to have a steady, loyal following. It allows users to put people in "circles," thus allowing users to decide what to post to what group of people, unlike Facebook, which insists on sharing with everyone on your Friends' list. However, where Google allows the user to limit their interactions with other users-even if you decide to follow someone you do not know- Facebook frowns on people adding for the sake of adding new friends. With the addition of the Audio and Video Hangouts, Google+ does have some significant advantages over Facebook.

According to Time, Google+ is a force to be reckoned with. Facebook features that have confused users have given Google+ an opportunity to pull ahead. Google+ has Picasa photos, Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, among other applications, making it more versatile than Facebook.

So, should you have a presence on Google+? Try it out as a means of enhancing traffic to your business, and enjoy the features that Google+ has been praised for!

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