Google+, Day 27: Comparing Google+ with Facebook
• "Following". As I talked about at length on Day 26, Google+ also enables me to add people to Circles who aren't necessarily in my personal social network. This behavior is more Twitter-like and it enables me to read posts made public by people I am interested in, but who have no reason to want me in their social network per se.
On Facebook I have two personas--my personal Facebook Profile, and my professional Facebook Page. The Facebook Page provides a similar function by enabling people I don't know to see what I post there and read my updates and articles. But, Google+ lets me accomplish the same thing from a single persona by allowing others to follow the posts I choose to make Public.
• Polls. This is a little one, and even a little bit of a silly one, but Google+ doesn't have the ability to do polls. I like the feature on Facebook. It can be fun to do a poll of favorite movies, or favorite cartoons. It can also have more practical uses, such as listing restaurant choices and taking a poll of a group of friends to figure out where to go for dinner.
• Circles and Privacy. One of the hallmarks of Google+ is Circles, and many feel that the Circles concept is a significant improvement in privacy over the Facebook "Friending" concept.
Personally, I think that segregating the social network this way makes it more complex to manage and introduces a different kind of privacy dilemma--just trying to keep track of the things I tell one Circle that I don't want another Circle to know about, and trying to police when or how that information gets shared between social networking contacts that may overlap. That six degrees of separation thing can be a bitch if you're trying to keep a secret on a public social network.
It is definitely nice to be able to view the incoming streams by Circle, though. I can filter out most of the noise and just read updates from my family, or my best friends, or my co-workers. Here's the thing, though, that many people seem to not realize--this isn't unique to Google+. I can do that on Facebook too and I have been using Lists to filter my social network stream for a very long time.
Not For Long
It is a great idea for Google to roll Google+ out to a limited audience as a sort of final beta to work out any bugs and kinks before really opening the floodgates to the world, but it poses a problem for Google+ as well. The Field Trial also give Facebook an opportunity to see what works and what doesn't and simply roll new features into the rival social network.
Facebook has already expanded the maximum characters for a post from 420 to 500, incorporated location tagging at the post level, and changed the name of the Everyone group to Public to more clearly define who that audience is--like Google+. Facebook will soon roll out the ability to not only filter incoming updates based on Lists, but enable me to also select my Lists from the dropdown when I am choosing who to share a post with.
Ultimately, the similarities are a problem for Google+ because users are already established and invested in Facebook, and Google needs to provide people with a compelling reason to switch.