Google+ outranks Twitter as no. 2 social network after Facebook | PCWorld

Damned lies and statistics…

But it does seem that Google+ is gaining ground and network effects are amazing things, as MySpace found to its cost when Facebook shot past it. I find it interesting, however, that there is a lot of chalk and cheese in this list and this is an ecosystem in which many different systems can thrive.  And I still don’t believe that Google is trying to compete directly with Facebook in a big way, even though Facebook might think it is competing directly with Google. Google+ is not a direct competitor to Facebook on most counts, even though many functions are superficially similar and industry watchers would love them to be head-to-head. They are not quite like chalk and cheese, but nor are they like two brands of car competing on features, style and price.

One thing in this article really caught my eye…

“The continued growth of Facebook, Google+ and Twitter also has a secondary side effect, the survey found. Local social networks in various countries are seeing a dip in usage, up to 57 percent in some cases, particularly in China. This is apparently due to a saturation of the market and shift towards more informal social media including blogs and forums, where privacy is easier to maintain from growing government clampdowns”

I know of thousands of Elgg, WordPress and possibly millions of other social sites out there that are quietly populating an increasingly long tail. While many of these are largely independent, this long tail is feeding on the big providers in many cases, even while the big providers attempt to feed on them. On an increasing number of social sites I use, from Pinterest to, the big three (Twitter, Facebook and Google+) are simply a means of authentication to get to somewhere else. Speaking for myself, if the choice is between Facebook and pretty much any other alternative, I choose the other alternative, and an increasing number of sites provide good alternatives. I suspect that use for authentication might count as ‘active use’, in which case the figures are hiding some big changes in behaviour that are going unreported, but it’s hard to tell for sure. If so, the respective business models of Google and Facebook put Facebook at quite a disadvantage: Google just needs to know more about you so that it can improve its search (which is why Google+ exists – social networking is just a fringe benefit that sometimes adds a bit more information for it to use), whereas Facebook needs you to actively engage in its toolset before it can make a profit from you. But, if all it is doing is getting you in to a smaller competitor’s site, then it becomes increasingly irrelevant (still dangerous, still nasty, but no longer the site where the game is held). If this turns into an endgame, the winner will not necessarily be the one with the most identities to its name, but the one that can make most effective use of them. And, in a distributed universe of decentralized systems, that looks like it might be Google. 

Address of the bookmark:

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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