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Google+ Versus Facebook: Which Does Social Networking Best?

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Google recently launched its own Google+ social network to compete with the very popular Facebook. Both Google+ and Facebook offer many of the same features and functionality, but they go about in much different ways. Will Facebook's 750 million users be tempted to leave that cluttered and chaotic site for Google+'s cleaner and more organized network? In this article, Michael Miller, author of Facebook for Grown-Ups, examines the different approaches of the two social networks, and speculates on which might win the most users in the end.
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On June 28, 2011, Google launched a new social network, dubbed Google+. Within its first few weeks of operation (invitation-only, by the way), it had attracted more than 20 million users, which makes it one of the fastest-growing services on the Internet.

It’s no surprise that Google+ competes directly with Facebook, the Internet’s largest social network. Facebook has been around for more than seven years, which is quite a lead in Internet time. But Google+ has generated a lot of attention, and many tech experts and early adopters think it offers some interesting features and functionality above and beyond what you find in the more entrenched competitor.

Is Google+ a better social network than Facebook? Should you be thinking about moving from Facebook to Google+? Which of these sites will win the social networking wars?

Good questions, all. Read on to see how I think it all shakes out.

Comparing Features, Head to Head

Let’s start out by looking at the features and functionalities of the two social networks. To be honest, they’re fairly similar; there is little one network does that the other doesn’t.

That’s to be expected, actually. I mean, why would a new competitor launch with fewer features than a veteran site? By this point in time, we all know what a social network does and how people use social networks. Offering those features most used is just the price of admission to the social networking game.

So, not surprisingly, Google+ and Facebook both offer text-based status updates, photo and video sharing, instant messaging/chat, and versions for mobile phones. All the basic stuff, then, is available on both social networks, as detailed in the following table.

Comparing Google+ and Facebook Features

Feature

Google+

Facebook

Public status updates

Yes

Yes

Feed or stream of friends’ updates

Yes

Yes

Organization of friends lists

Yes (Circles)

Yes (Groups)

Private messages

Yes

Yes

Instant messaging/text chat

Yes

Yes

Video chat

Yes

Yes

Group video chat

Yes (up to 10 users)

No

Link sharing

Yes

Yes

Photo sharing

Yes

Yes

Video sharing

Yes

Yes

Content sharing

Yes (Sparks)

No

Event management

No

Yes

Celebrity and business pages

Not yet, but expected soon

Yes

Social games

Yes

Yes

Mobile version

Yes (Android and iPhone; Windows Phone expected soon)

Yes (Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Phone)

Location sharing (in mobile version)

Yes

Yes

Group messaging (in mobile version)

Yes (Huddle)

No

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