As someone who uses social media daily, there are a few things I hear all the time: “I don’t use it because I don’t care what you ate for breakfast,” “I don’t tweet because I don’t want my boss to find it” and “Facebook is the new MySpace.”
Here’s the thing: the world is going social. Long gone are the simple days when the main purpose of social media was to see if the cute guy in bio lab was single. Facebook already has 750 million users, 70% of which visit the site every day. According to Pew, 65% of adult American internet users now say they use social networking sites. It’s how we communicate—but why is Facebook the social giant when other sites flopped, and will Google Plus steal its thunder?
Change is Hard, but Change is Good
Facebook made some dramatic announcements at their F8 conference on Thursday. Along with some very Twitter and Google Plus-like additions to the home page (a streaming ticker and a subscription feature) they announced Timeline, a much more visual approach to the profile that includes apps like Spotify, Nike+ and Netflix.
To the consternation of the masses in your newsfeed, Facebook keeps changing. And man, people hate it. This is what happens every time, including when Facebook created some of its most iconic features: the news feed and the Like button. If we’ve learned anything from the past, early adopters of new features on Facebook are at an advantage. The truth is, if Facebook hadn’t evolved, we wouldn’t have Twitter or Google Plus, and not evolving was the death sentence of MySpace.
One Profile, One Person
When you join Facebook, you have to use your real name, and you can only have one profile. This policy isn’t perfect, but it has some major benefits. For example, many sites are now using a Facebook plug-in for comments to their website—people are far less likely to “troll” the comments section if they have to use their real name. Organizations and companies can have a meaningful interaction with real people; something that I don’t think would happen with usernames or avatars. Finally, people can take each other seriously. I can control my Facebook profile enough so that I don’t worry if a potential employer checks out my public profile (in fact, I expect it!), but I’d never do the same with a MySpace page. Google Plus has a real name policy, too, and is even marketed as an “identity service.” It will be interesting to see if G+ can get the same kind of integration with the rest of the web.
Here Comes Everybody
As I mentioned above, Facebook is not lacking in users, and it is old news that the biggest growing group is women over 55. Your parents joined so they could see your pictures and nag you about never calling; but once they were there, they realized they could reconnect and interact with all of their own friends. This is something that never happened with MySpace—Facebook is for everyone. Google Plus is for everyone, too, but I’m not sure if it has what it took to get baby boomers on Facebook—everyone else.
Rising to the Challenge
This week, Google Plus went out of beta. I think it’s got serious potential, and if you asked me last week I might have said that G+ is like a Pepsi to Facebook’s classic Coca Cola. However, Facebook’s new announcements make me think the newcomer has a lot of work to do to keep up. Either way, I’m there. I don’t want to miss a thing.
If you want to check out Facebook’s Timeline early, here’s a tutorial to set it up.
Recent Posts By Caroline Sheedy
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- Current Trends: Internal Social Media - June 13th, 2011