ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to imagine that there is a Facebook killer somewhere around the next tech innovation, but there probably is.
Granted, in the end, it wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look much like a Ã¢â‚¬Å“killerÃ¢â‚¬ï¿½ but probably closer to something new, shiny and different that has enough new whiz bang boom to garner attention.
Many thought that this was what would become of Twitter, because it seemed so much easier and simpler than the more complex neediness of Facebook. Who couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t create a 140-character message? Twitter was (and still is) a much more mobile-friendly experience. On top of that, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy to add, find and share with friends and there is something about the limitation of the message that makes the barrier to entry fairly low (even though many who jump on the Twitter bandwagon find themselves struggling to understand how to find and follow people while grappling with the new language of hashtags, retweets and URL shorteners). What weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve learned in the online social networking of Facebook and Twitter is that there is more codependency between the two platforms than walled gardens that users are not allowed to cross.
The most recent attempt to kill Facebook was launched last week with GoogleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brand-new online social network called, Google +. Currently, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a closed environment that can only be accessed if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re invited, and by the looks of the online chatter, Google is allowing people with significant Social Media experience in first to see how it stands up, performs and gets chatted about prior to opening the flood gates for all to use. There is widespread skepticism about GoogleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ability to be successful in the online social networking space. In the past, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve made strong attempts with Orkut, Wave and Buzz but the overall results paled in comparison to the success of Twitter or Facebook. With Google +, users can create Ã¢â‚¬Å“circlesÃ¢â‚¬ï¿½ that allow them to segment their connections (i.e. friends, family, co-workers, etc. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦), they can follow or create an area of shared interest called a Ã¢â‚¬Å“sparkÃ¢â‚¬ï¿½ (letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s say youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re into Thai cuisine or mixed martial arts or eating Thai cuisine while watching mixed martial arts), you can share your images or even create a live get-together known as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“hangout,Ã¢â‚¬ï¿½ and the integration between the Web and mobile experience looks seamless (with the one exception being that the iPhone app is not available yet).
So, how does Google + stack up? TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve clearly learned from what Facebook and Twitter have done to keep people engaged, and the platform is simple and easy to navigate and connect with. Will it be a Facebook killer? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to believe that the average user will feel the need to have two environments that ultimately do the same thing: allow me to connect to my friends, family and co-workers. On top of that, users will have to feel that Google + is so superior that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worthy of rebuilding all of the connections that have already been consummated in the Facebook platform. Google + would be much more interesting if it was codependent with Facebook. While that may sound like heresy, just imagine if you could port your information and data from one to another and the stuff that Google + does would augment your Facebook experience (or vice-versa). In a world of co-opetition (competition + co-operation), it may be GoogleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best play at actually slaying the Facebook giant.
Mitch Joel is president of Twist Image and the author of the best-selling business book, Six Pixels of Separation.