Facebook’s Google+ To-Do List

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So all the tech writers in the world have been prognosticating about Google+… Google+ this, Google+ that, what it all means, which social networking site is toast, and on and on, ad nauseum. So of course, I am going to jump in and add to the noise.

Let me say right up front that I have used Google+ for several weeks now and I have a pretty good handle on what I like and don’t like. Let me also say that Google+ is in ‘beta’, which means that new features are heading our way soon… maybe. Google has a track record of keeping things in beta for years, but Google+ is pretty high profile so it may be sooner than later. Let me also say that I have used Facebook for years, so I have a pretty good handle on that as well.

I won’t waste your time repeating everything else that has been written about Facebook vs Google+, the feature set, which one does this better or that better. Everyone who has used Google+ generally agrees that in some respects it blows the doors off anything Facebook has in their product. So what I want to focus on here is what Facebook will be doing in the near future to fight back against those apparent deficiencies. I will look into my crystal ball so to speak and predict what is coming with Facebook. Wish me luck.

1. Google+’s circles feature is a pretty innovative feature. It allows you to segregate your Google+ connections into groups and then send updates just to that group. Great feature indeed, especially if you don’t want your mom to see those pictures from Friday night. Facebook has lists, but you can’t send messages to just a list. So if you post to Facebook those pictures from Friday night you’ll have to dig into the privacy settings for that gallery and specify who can’t see them. Not very user friendly. That will change very soon.
Prediction: Facebook will roll out enhanced functionality to allow you to do the same thing with your friend list. A couple Facebook engineers basically did a quick hack job a few days after Google+ rolled out that showed it could be done, so it is coming.

2.  Google+ does not use Google Search to allow you to find stuff.  Pretty lame, eh? That will be fixed very soon I imagine because it has been pretty embarrassing that Google didn’t include that in their product up front. Facebook’s search isn’t all-encompassing either, which is one thing that has always irked me. So the race is on to see who can enhance the search feature.
Prediction: Facebook just entered into a strategic alliance with Microsoft, so enhanced search functions can’t be far away. In both platforms I want to be able to search for stuff I have posted, others have posted, etc. Google faltered out of the gate, so Facebook has an opportunity to shine here and embarrass Google even more by being first.

3.  Facebook’s messaging feature got an update with the new Facebook emails that are incorporated into your messages area. In my opinion, it sucks. It is confusing to say the least. Just trying to delete messages that you no longer want is a royal pain and takes at least a half dozen clicks to accomplish, that is, if you can figure out how. I am an IT professional and it was a pain for me to figure out. Google+ uses Gmail for its messaging system. You can even use Gmail to send content from Google+ to non-Google+ users who can interact with you in Google+ simply using those emails. Pretty dope, eh?
Prediction:  The Facebook email/messaging thing will be fixed. If they want to keep up with Google+they must do this. I have heard from countless friends who don’t even use it because it makes no sense. Either fix it or quit offering it. I think they will fix it.

4.  The one killer feature that Google+ has that will draw legions of new users is the Hangout feature, which allows you to video chat up to 10 people at a time. It auto switches the camera based on who is talking, and it is just killer. Truly. The quality is amazing and it is so easy to use that my mom could even use it, and that is saying alot. Facebook announced a video chat feature with Skype less than a week after Google+ launched and I will admit that it is also pretty cool and good quality. But it is only 1 to 1 video chat.
Prediction: Facebook will enhanced this video chat to include more people, and I am going to also guess that they will roll it out soon to business pages to allow companies to interact with their fans/customers. This has such huge potential that I imagine this is high on their to-do list.

5.  Finally, let me talk about EdgeRank. For those who don’t know, EdgeRank is a system that Facebook uses to determine who sees your posts, pictures, videos, etc. EdgeRank basically decides how many people see your stuff and you have no way of controlling that. In practical terms this makes alot of sense. If you saw every single item from every one of your friends and pages that you ‘like’, your wall stream may never stop scrolling on the screen, which would be annoying.  It is like that for me (almost) in Google+.  Google doesn’t filter anything on my behalf like Facebook does.  And while it may seem like a good thing that Google lets me do the filtering with my circles, it almost requires that you become good at circle management, which is another post entirely.
Prediction:  Facebook has received so much bad press from EdgeRank, and indeed it does tick me off that they make decisions for me that they think are best instead of letting me control my stuff.  I think that Facebook will make a move to become more transparent in this regard and give me some tools to control my own stuff and who sees what. At least, I hope they do!

So there you go. Long post, so sorry for that. Google+ has to be forcing Facebook to reconsider how they are doing things and the feature set they are providing.  If they don’t start innovating again, in a few years we may wonder what happened to Facebook.

I would be curious what you think, so let me know. Either comment here or email me at steve@steveholt.com.

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