How is Google+ Different Than Facebook and Twitter?

by on July 4, 2011 · 28 comments

I‘m really digging Google+. Even more than Facebook or Twitter. For me, one of the most compelling things about Google+ is the way it allows you to organize your friends and contacts into “Circles”.

Google+ Sharing

Sharing on Facebook

In Facebook, when I share something, *every one* of my Facebook friends gets it. Sometimes I’m sharing a blog post from Expand2Web, and a friend from High School says “what are you talking about you geek!?”

Other times I’ll want to share family photos, and people I work with may not be interested in that. I have no control over who I share with among anyone I’ve friended on Facebook.

Facebook partially addressed this when they re-invented their Groups functionality, but it still does not give you much granularity unless your organize a bunch of groups and invite people there. I really like the new Facebook Groups and have a few of them, but they still don’t give me the right control and granularity of who I share what with.

Sharing on Twitter

The problem with sharing on Twitter, is that your stream is completely public. So it’s great for getting the word out about certain things, meeting up at events, etc. But if you wanted to share something with a specific group of friends, or family, or co-workers, forget it. You would have to create a completely different Twitter account and get the right people to follow you there.

Google+ Gets Sharing Right

Google+ solved this in a really interesting way with Circles. Circles allow you to arrange people into different groups very quickly and easily. You can create circles for “family”, “professional contacts” and “fellow hockey players” or whatever you want. Then when you share a photo, text or anything, you can quickly specify who you want to share it with – including “Public”, which means it shows up to anyone who is following you.

Google Plus Circles

Google Plus sharing screen

They have somehow managed to give you ton of cool features without making it overly complex.

I’ve read a bunch of fantastic articles and perspectives on Google+. Perhaps the most interesting one is by Steven Levy, who wrote the book, In the Plex (a great book about Google, BTW).

Here’s a quote from the article that explains what Google is trying to do with Circles:

“With Facebook I have 500 friends — my mom’s my friend, my boss is my friend,” says Shimrit Ben-Yair, the product manager in charge of the social graph. “So when I share on Facebook, I overshare. On Twitter, I undershare, because it’s public. If Google hits that spot in the middle, we can revolutionize social interaction.”

“Networks are for networking,” Gundotra says. “Circles are for the right people.”

Here’s the article: Inside Google+ – How the Search Giant Plans to Go Social

SEO Impact of Google+

Update: After spending a little more time using it and discussing with colleagues, I wanted to add a few “take-aways” I’ve found in terms of the SEO impact of Google+.

  • With Google+ and the +1 button, your Google+ profile just became a lot more important, so make sure to completely fill it out and optimize it. Include links to your website, blog and other social media profiles there.
  • With the recent implementation of the authorship markup tag (rel=author), your author snippet that shows up next to your search results will be linking to your Google+ profile.
  • Google has indicated that it will roll out the equivalent of Google+ profiles for brands and businesses; these will be like Facebook Pages and you’ve seen how much money big brands are spending there.

I see a lot more of my activity moving toward Google+, especially when the iPhone app gets approved.

Come find me on Google+!

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, the SmallBiz WordPress Theme and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 281 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura July 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I look forward to a facebook alternative! Facebook has done GREAT things but with this kind of control in sharing it might be a little easier to feel at ease with. Thanks for the update.

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Malik Merchant July 6, 2011 at 9:16 am

I am still waiting for my Google Plus account.

The initial reviews shows that it’s a tough competition for FB.

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Mullins Farms July 9, 2011 at 6:02 am

Not liking the user interface much at this point… Not intuitive for me…

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Jocelyn July 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I agree with you Don. I think Google is coming up of a better social media sharing site, which is the Google +. About 90% of my FB friends don’t really know what I’m talking about and they don’t even care. SO far I like all the features and the control of who can see your updates.

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Don Campbell July 15, 2011 at 9:09 am

@Jocelyn, @Malik, @Mullins – I think that is the real question here. The techies who are using it in the trial seem to like it a LOT (myself included) but the question is will our Moms and will more mainstream users like it as much as Facebook? That remains to be seen!

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Khamsi Abdullah July 4, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Hi, even now, G+ still can’t compete FB. But I’m really like this G+ because it can replace GFC for WP users.

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cheetoh July 15, 2011 at 8:45 am

Don,

While I am still learning the ins and outs of google+, the functionality you mention above – the ability to manage friends/lists/contacts DOES exist on Facebook, and has for quite some time.

I have all of my friends organized into lists (hometown, work, family, by interests, college, high school etc.). In fact, when you accept a friend request, FB asks you if you want to “add to lists” depending on which ones you have set up. When I post a status update, photos, share a link etc, there is the ability to set privacy on which lists of people have access to your posts etc.

I am able to maintain any level of privacy I want, while also sending certain updates/status only to those I want to see it, or I think it will be relevant to.

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Don Campbell July 15, 2011 at 9:11 am

Very true – thank you Cheetoh. Facebook does has the ability to use lists as yo mention, but *very* few people are aware of it and use it. What Google+ is trying to do with Circles is to make that easier and inherently part of how you use the service. But the question is do most people want to take the time to categorize their friends and control how their content is shared? The ideal solution is to make it easy and intuitive – we’ll see if Google+ gets closer to that or not…

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neil July 15, 2011 at 11:29 am

Don, in your email you talk about SEO impacts, BUT you mention nothing about it in this post. Please elaborate

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Don Campbell July 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

Neil,
Very good point – here are a few SEO impact take aways I’ve noticed so far:

- With Google+ and the +1 button, your Google+ profile just became a lot more important, so make sure to completely fill it out and optimize it. Include links to your website, blog and other social media profiles there.

- With the recent implementation of rel=author, your author snippet that shows up next to your search results will be linking to your Google+ profile.

- Google has indicated that it will roll out the equivalent of Google+ profiles for brands and businesses; these will be like Facebook Pages and you’ve seen how much money big brands are spending there.

Here’s a great article on Bruce Clay’s Blog that discusses these implications in some more detail: Google+ Profile Optimization: Branding, SEO and Social Media Marketing.

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Andy Klevorn July 15, 2011 at 11:34 am

Hey Don, I got in on the third wave or so of Google+, it does seem very cool to be able to share with the selected circles on a more “up front” level. Hope all’s well in CA.

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Don Campbell July 15, 2011 at 11:58 am

Hi Andy – nice to hear from you! Yes things are great. I saw you join on Google+ and added you to my “Circles”!

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Anees July 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm

that was a good read…here’s something that allows sharing G+ posts to facebook… http://goo.gl/M693R

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Juliemarg July 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I see Twitter as a good place for business networking. I get to know people by listening periodically to one sentence or two. That’s actually how you and I met.

Google + has those same casual business contacts talking, talking, talking. I avoid going there because I’m sucked in to the middle of long conversations that don’t really have much to do with me. I can’t scan 30 or 40 tweets and find the 2 or 3 I’m interested in quickly.

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Don Campbell July 16, 2011 at 6:56 am

Very interesting perspective Julie; and I can’t argue with it. I’m finding Google+ to take up a lot of time!

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Navin July 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I feel the word friends got misused in fb

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Don Campbell July 16, 2011 at 6:56 am

I agree Navin.

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Everything Pet July 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm

circles is a great thing, however you can achieve a similar result on facebook by creating / customizing lists. This is on the drop down arrow next to the share button when you perform a status update. Not quite the same but nearly, as you can isolate the content exclusively to certain people.

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Bruce Sullivan July 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Don:

Good heads up. I’ll be looking into this for business networking. Needs to be an alternative to facebook.

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Leo Wadsworth July 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm

For my money, Google+ seems unfinished compared to Facebook or LinkedIn. For example, I have not found some way that Google+ would suggest people to add to my circles. Both Facebook and LinkedIn do a decent job, both with friends of friends type of functionality and importing mail address books. Right now (unless I’m missing something obvious) you basically have to either know that someone is on Google+ or you have to just try all the folks you might know. Also it doesn’t look like I can keep someone from adding me to their circle and following (stalking?) me. I expect it to “grow up” a bit over time.

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Derek (web design Ireland) July 16, 2011 at 6:27 am

wow!…. that’s the first time I’ve heard of it. Far out – it makes complete sense. I think the big G is always ahead of the ball. I’ve not embraced facebook or twitter for the very reasons that G+ will be solving. That’s excellent – thanks for getting me up to speed Dan, I really liked the summary of what each service does, honestly it was all a bit hazey for me before…

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jared September 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm

leave it to google.

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mike September 11, 2011 at 6:09 pm

sorry, this is off topic, but what pluggin do you use to recognize facebook profile on the comments by email address?

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Don Campbell September 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Update:Facebook has updated their lists capability with Improved Friend Lists.

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Xul February 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I have not given much thought of using Google+ before reading this. I surely will create my Google+ profile today and work on building my circle.

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setu March 23, 2013 at 5:03 am

Hi,
SHould we have a separate focabook and Google + account for the blog. I already have a email and Google +. But these are personal not for blog. SInce I do not have specific FB A/c and Google + acount for blog I refrain from sharing my posts via publicize (except for Pintrest). Could you suggest? And how do get friends on you blog FB page and new Google + ?

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Don Campbell March 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm

setu – yes you should have a personal account for Facebook and Google+, and also a business page on Facebook and Google+ (managed by your personal account).

You can invite friends and customers to your new pages when you set them up.

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setu rohini March 24, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Thanks a lot for reply. Is it possible to create a different facebook page from the same account. And a similar thing for Google +. Or should I make new email id and then get a new facebook A/c and google+. I would appreciate your help again :)

Reply

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