Facebook Forever!

woman in a field, on a laptop

by Krissy Goelz (@krisgoelz)

Oh, Facebook, how I love you so. Not because youve turned this city girl into a farmer or helped me get in touch with my inner Mafia Wars, but because you introduced me to the kind of engagement I want expect from my online experience. Ive gotten to connect to the people who matter most my real life friends and the occasional colleague and easily update them on whats going on, either through pictures or postings.

Facebook, you also let me be a fan. Its fun to find brands or bands I like, express my devotion and network with a community of like-minded individuals. This past week I was introduced to Google+, which is predicted to be a Facebook killer by some technology analysts, but for now, Im unwavering. Facebook is here to stay.

For one thing, change is hard and Google+ is not intuitive. The geek gods and goddesses will disagree, but thats because theyre obsessed with mastering the newest technologies. The average Joe likely wont invest the time to learn the ins and outs and will grow bored quickly unless Google+ delivers a value they cannot get from other social network sites. The Baby Boomer generation likes Facebook, and getting them to shift platforms isnt going to be easy. Is your mom going to get Google+? Probably not; shes finally comfortable with Facebook.

The circles feature of Google+ offers a nice visual representation of people in a users various social circles, but is that really necessary? I know who my college friends are, the people that Ive worked with and the friends in my neighborhood. While Google makes it a bit more elegant to share targeted messages with select groups, I can still do that on Facebook. For those who argue that you can better control how you share personal information, Im not putting anything online anywhere that I wouldnt shout from a mountain top.

Google Plus integrates with Picasa, and you can migrate your pictures from Facebook, but why should I do that when my friends are on Facebook? Thats like saying were having a great cheeseburger at this McDonalds, but we can move our lunch to another one. Is one really better than the other? I have pictures on Flickr, Facebook and my personal blog. Does my whole online existence really need to be in one place?

Google+ is also pushing the coolness of its hangout feature the ability to video chat with up to 10 people but for the people who want that, Facebook has come through again now that Skype video chat is enabled. Facebook is also fun. While it may be cool to +1 an update, Im still going to think of it as a like button. Twitter retweets may be about sharing, but theyre also another way of saying we like something. How many more ways do we need to say the same thing?

Google+ may be new and giving us another way to divert our attention, but unless it uses its muscle to bully the other social networks out of the proverbial sandbox (notice Google+, not Twitter is now powering real time results?), its not going to live up to the hype (Hello, Google Buzz).

I did sign up for a Google+ account within minutes of receiving my invite, but instead of abandoning one for the other, Ill continue to hang out in both. For all of Googles messaging that Google+ is their answer to how people socialize in the real world with different social circles and interactions, why are people thinking we need to give up our other social networks to play in a single walled garden? Forever is a long time, but as long as Facebook continues to meet its users needs, Facebook is here to stay.



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