Hard not to talk about Facebook this week. The rise of Facebook had been nothing short of spectacular and even movies have been made about it. In that context, it’s hard to say something original and I was thinking about skipping the subject altogether.
However, I have been seeing the ads from Google promoting their Google+ services and I can’t help to think about how much Google doesn’t get the “social media” space and how much Facebook gets it.
Google promotes heavily the “circle” feature of Google+ and how you can better manage the information that your work colleagues, your family or your ex-girlfriends will see about you. My feeling is that it is futile to try to make such distinctions. Once you publish something or do something in public nowadays, chances are that someone else will make sure that any piece of information that you wanted to share in a limited way will become public.
The only way to really keep private anything that you want to keep private is to not share it with anyone. Treat anything that you put on the Internet (or that you do in public) as an information that may become public.
This is not what Facebook or any social site will tell you of course. They will tell you that your privacy does matter and that they are helping you in “managing” what information you want to share with who. Here you should be careful to follow what their interest is. Social sites such as Facebook and Google+ wants to know as much as possible about you either explicitly (what you say about you) or even better implicitly (what link you follow what you are responding to). The more they know, the more they can target you with advertising specifically tailored for you.
Facebook has been able to rise to their current level for various reason among which:
-Simple: You can create a profile and let people find you very easily. You can be a “player” on the web without having to learn much at all. The presentation is also simple and standardized taking a look at your “news feed” doesn’t required much action or thinking.
-Critical mass: Everyone you know is on it and it is simple to keep an impression of being part of a larger group without requiring much commitment.
Before Facebook, social sites were not as simple and it did leave a large space for a new one and that one was Facebook.
Now that Facebook is there, you have to offer something significantly better for people to move to your service. The big play by Google+ are “circles” and privacy but I don’t think that people are concerned about it and therefore will not create the critical mass necessary to make it successful. I have tried Google+ but it still desperately empty. All the connections that I have there are also connections on Facebook and LinkedIn and are all early adopters that wants to see what it is.
Will you buy Facebook stocks? Many will no matter if it’s a good deal or not… as human it seems that it makes us feel good to be part of the crowd… we like to be able to say that we are part of it, that we own it!