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Facebook Takes the Google Route. Will it Work?

Looks to face competition with increased acquisitions

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Facebook Takes the Google Route. Will it Work?
[ Social Media]

Facebook is the king of the hill when it comes to social networks, but it faces growing competition from a couple of old foes. Google is rampantly trying to play catch up in the social networking space, while Twitter seems to have a new-found motivation for improvement. There is news out about Facebook’s strategy (which interestingly enough is reminiscent of Google’s overall strategy for the last decade: acquisitions, acquisitions, acquisitions.

What should Facebook acquire to maintain its edge? Tell us what you think.

Acquisitions

A new report out from Bloomberg says that Facebook is planning to make about 20 acquisitions this year, which would be twice as many as last year. This isn’t a rumor. It’s straight from Facebook’s director of corporate development Vaughan Smith.

The company has already made 13 acquisitions this year, according to Bloomberg. These include: Mac app maker Sofa, mobile app creator Snaptu, group chat company Beluga, mobile ad company Rel8tion, and iPad app maker Push Pop Press. Such acquisitions are line with Facebook’s plans to focus on design and mobile, as Smith indicated in the report.

Beyond Acquisitions

There is a lot more to maintaining a solid user experience and keeping people engaged than just piling on the acquisitions. It’s what is done with the acquisitions, and what features are added (or kept or removed) that keep people around. It’s also partnerships and the developer ecosystem that make things interesting, fun or worthwhile.

This week, Miramax announced a new Facebook app that could very well pave the way for the future of movie-based entertainment on the social network. Other movie studios have experimented with Facebook movie rental, but Miramax, working directly with Facebook itself has come up with a whole new concept for this, including plans for purchasing and digital storage.

Facebook is also expected to get more music-oriented with the help of a handful of partners. The recent U.S. launch of the popular Spotify may play a critical role in that.

While Facebook faces plenty of obstacles on the competition front, it’s also facing others on the legal front. And I’m not talking about the Winklevii or Paul Ceglia. The “like” button has essentially been outlawed in Germany. But that’s a whole other story.

The Google Threat

A couple months back, Google unveiled what might turn out to be Facebook’s biggest rival to its core business of social networking. Though there have been reports of slowing growth, initial growth of the service has been huge compared to rivals Facebook and Twitter for the amount of time it’s been out, and it’s still in invitation-only mode. But yeah, yeah, yeah…we’ve talked about all of this plenty of times before.

What we haven’t talked about quite as much is Google’s launch of games for Google+. Games keep a large amount of Facebook’s users engaged, and there’s no reason not to assume they will have a similar effect on Google+ users as well – especially considering that Google+ has the popular Angry Birds, and a handful of games from Zynga – the maker of some of the most popular titles on Facebook.

You also have to keep in mind that Google’s only going to keep integrating facets of Google+ with other Facets of the overall Google experience, which has a whole lot more users than Google+ itself. For example, Google+ posts are coming to Gmail:

Google+ Posts Coming To Gmail” src=”http://images.ientrymail.com/webpronews/pictures/googleplus_gmail_thumb_616.jpg” alt=”" width=”616″ />

Google also started adding Google+ posts to Google search results. On top of that, Google profiles (the backbone of any user’s Google+ account) are only going to continue to be more visible in the search results. Think about how many people use Google search. Google is pushing its authorship markup to webmasters and content producers (a future ranking signal, by the way). When this is used, authors of content show up with little images in the search results that stand out. When these are clicked, they go to that author’s Google profile. Expect to see more and more of these as more people adopt this markup.

Google also started including a Google+ hangouts feature right on YouTube video pages. Think about how many people watch videos on YouTube. Ok, don’t even think about it. Just look at these numbers from comScore:

comScore video rankings

Now think about how often people share YouTube videos. This feature lets people not only share the videos but watch them together.

These are just a handful of some of the more recent things Google has been doing with Google+. Nevermind that they’re pushing to make Google TV more appealing to consumers and are in the running for an acquisition of Hulu (think about the possibilities).

Oh, and Google’s not too shy about acquisitions either. You may recall recent news of the proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Facebook is putting more focus on mobile?

The Twitter Threat

Long before Google+ was even conceived of, there was another Facebook rival in town that went by the name of Twitter. While it has built its popularity up over the years, it was not until the return of co-founder Jack Dorsey earlier this year that the company really started kicking things up a notch.

One of the most significant things that has happened since then is Twitter’s addition of its own photo sharing feature. Then another major development occurred just this week, as the company announced user image galleries, which give people a place to simply go and look at all of a user’s pictures.

If you think about Facebook or Google+, this seems like a basic feature of a successful social network. Photos are a big part of the experience. Yet, Twitter has managed to be as successful as it is without this kind of functionality.

Twitter Photo Gallery

Now that users will have this kind of functionality, they will get a new dimension to their Twitter experience, and many will likely engage more with the service. As discussed in a recent article, it seems like the young are trending toward more Twitter use (and for some of them, perhaps a little less Facebook). I would not be surprised to see this new functionality continue to fuel that.

Twitter has also given webmasters and businesses more reason to maintain a good Twitter presence. Twitter referrals are now easier to track in analytics. All links over 20 characters are wrapped in Twitter’s t.co URL shotener, whether they are posted on Twitter.com or any Twitter client. As a result, analytics programs will recognize URLs as coming from t.co as opposed to TweetDeck, or some other client (hat tip to TheNextWeb on that one).

Another major, major thing Twitter has going for it is that it will be heavily integrated into iOS 5, the operating system that will power Apple’s iPhones and iPads when its launched this fall. From Apple:

iOS 5 makes it even easier to tweet from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Sign in once in Settings, and suddenly you can tweet directly from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube, or Maps. Want to mention or @reply to a friend? Contacts applies your friends’ Twitter usernames and profile pictures. So you can start typing a name and iOS 5 does the rest. You can even add a location to any tweet, no matter which app you’re tweeting from.

Right now, Facebook is still king.

While it’s true that Facebook does face growing competition for social networking eyeballs, it’s not in any immediate danger of losing a substantial amount of its user base. Millions of people are still using Facebook every single day and often throughout the day. Considering that, webmasters and businesses should consider some other recent developments.

How about this infographic from KISSmetrics, which looks at the timing of Facebook posts:

Social Media Infographic 

If you have Facebook apps, it’s worth noting that Facebook last week put out its guidelines for social design, which are worth a perusal.

Facebook has been filtering the news feed (even when sorted by most recent, without the user actually hiding people), and they’re expected to launch an unfiltered version. The ticker concept has already been spotted numerous times in testing. This shows posts roll in in realtime on the right side of the screen separate from the news feed itself. The point is, you may soon find that the visibility of your updates will go up dramatically.

In the news feed itself, Facebook has already been grouping posts by topics. If two or more of your friends mention a certain brand in a post, that brand will get some special treatment in the news feed. More on that here.

 

It’s also worth noting just how much traffic the search engines are sending to Facebook Pages. Search Engine Land looks at a study from PageLever indicating that 27% of referral traffic to Facebook Pages comes from Google. I wonder how much more we’ll see those Google profiles stand out in Google results, especially once the brand pages roll out. Will that take away from brands’ Facebook page traffic (which means Facebook’s traffic)?

Is Facebook in danger of losing its social network dominance? Tell us what you think.

Facebook Takes the Google Route. Will it Work?
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  • Josh Shuster

    Facebook is still king of the social network scene, I am a big fan of Twitter more. These days more and more sites are popping up that have great features. One I have found surfing around is Fandustry. This site looks new but they have some cool people I met on there. Don’t know how long they have been around. It’s reminds me of a better controlled myspace.

    • http://billigseo.com søkemotoroptimalisering

      I like twitter more than facebook in term of social media. For some reasons i sense that Facebook won’t last long, maybe because i never liked facebook.

  • rm

    no – when facebook enters the market with a really clean (retro organic) search engine – look out goog your prime real estate is diminishing in value and usage fast – we really need the competition so a lot of us designer / web support folks are looking forward to it- what a great day it will be when goog / msn / fb (or?) share 30% equally in search – we will finally get some real competition and realistic pricing and better services

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      I do think there are some untapped opportunities for Facebook in search.

  • http://www.mxreffects.net MXR

    Would be great to see stores/ecommerce channel on Facebook.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      They could certainly make it easier to find things. No question.

  • http://www.absolutewebworks.com/ Absolute Webworks

    Even though Google is the dominate search engine and Facebook is the King of social media. I believe the Google has contributed more to the world in terms of tools, applications and email.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      They definitely have a much wider portfolio of products, which is one major advantage that should work to its favor as it integrates Google+ more broadly.

  • http://lwcraig.net Lonnie Craig

    what about implementing an “audio-shout out to go with the IM. Place it @ the top of the “home-page. several social-sites already have it…:)

    aka; llwcraig @ FaceBook

  • Brooks

    There are 3 (well 4 if you count Myspace) strong social networks. I would count Myspace and just say top 4, but it appears Myspace is slowly but surely becoming the MTV of the web (as MTV on tv loses it’s “Music.”) So, that being said, whichever two of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ merge or buyout will end up the dominating social network. If 2 of the 3 do not do this, Facebook will continue to dominate. My 3 cents.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      No LinkedIn love?

  • http://www.broadbanddigitalmedia.com Ron Leddy

    Facebook’s 420 character limit on comments is a real pain in the keys, plus, they have gotten to the point to where they treat everyone like they’re little kids (who must be supervised at all times).

    They’re so afraid of offending their profits that Facebook should rename their social network: Mother Goose Online, or something appropiate.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Google+ does cater to long form content, and can be almost blog-like in that regard.

  • http://www.roiunlimited.com/mycashforums matt

    FB will only get better it’s the #1 social network on the net in my eyes

  • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

    It’s worth noting that since the writing of this article, facebook-sharing-2011-08″ rel=”nofollow”>Facebook announced some new sharing features that may remind some of Google’s Circles functionality.

  • Blue

    I think that Facebok should take a run at Ortsbo.com

    The real-time chat language translator has experienced massive growth in popularity, particularly in South Korea and other countries where Facebook could benefit from a boost in exposure. Combining this feature into Facebook — which already is compatible with Facebook — could be a major coup … and offer something superior to any Google offering.

  • http://www.worshipmelodies.blogspot.com Carley

    The first thing Facebook needs to do is to stop trying to fix what is not broken. FB was wayyyy more fun before they messed with the layout, the photo albums, the features (taking away some really cool and fun things, to replace them with stuff no one likes). And the constant threat that our things are not private, or no longer ours. Put it back to the way it was when it was fun and cool, let us have the copyright to our own stuff, make it private… and then leave it alone for more than 10 minutes… and maybe people will like it more.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      They did announce some new sharing options that could help ease some of the privacy concerns.

      • Katy

        The key issue though is FB (and others) don’t enable privacy as a default, that’s left for the user to sort. That kind of stance and their comments on ‘privacy being dead’ are enough to ensure I won’t be making another account on there.

  • Tim

    Don’t think it matters really. My initial purpose for using Facebook was a combination of business promotion using facebook pages and keeping in touch with friends and family. The business aspect of Facebook has been in large part a disappointment and the ads are to expensive when calculating ROI. The family and friends networking was fine until the scammers, spammers, and virus issues started showing up regularly. Also is has become obvious there are serious issues with security/privacy and now there is censorship starting to show up as well. Will Google compete in the social networking arena with Facebook? Depends on Googles loyal following which is dwindling and I suspect it will continue to. Why? Because first Google must have people using the search engine which in turn generates income through advertising. Google has their priorities first on searchers and then on advertisers, so they claim. But advertising is where the money comes from and they more and more continue to crap on their advertisers with all the hype around algorithm changes and deceptive trade practices regarding adwords. This will have a trickle down effect through every other product Google buys their way in to. People like myself (business owners) have had enough of Googles attitude toward their customers, they have NO customer service, NONE, unless a company spends over X dollars a month on advertising. They are rapidly losing the trust of thousands of advertisers and because they are so big, powerful, and rich, they just simply don’t care. More and more people will continue to jump ship and are left with such a bitter taste in their mouth they will refuse to come back. I have launched a campaign within my local business area to ask the searchers use Bing and other search venues as well as totally refocusing my advertising efforts in other areas. I’ve explained in detail to my customers as well as putting up detailed information about my experience with Google in all of the geotargeted area I work within via the web, social networking, email, newsletters, as well as other conventional methods in an effort to educate people what a boisterous, arrogant, and deceptive company Google is. I doubt I will be or are the only one doing this. I would not prefer to see Google muscle their way into other aspects of the Internet, software, or electronics industry as long as they are unwilling to assist x customers like myself and many other small business owners. We are essentially ignored as customers by Google and as long as there are craigslist ads above my quality and relevant site I will not participate in Googles search engine, adwords, or any other products owned or endorsed by Google and I will continue to educate people about their deceptive trade practices regarding adwords. Things such as msipulated data surrounding keyword cpc value nationally, globally, and locally. And I’m no longer accept sales calls from the vast amount of companies claiming to have contractual agreements with Google for top placements in maps which is obviously basically a refined pyramid scheme that Google allows for the purpose of populating the five or so positions beside a local map based on a particular keyword. Oh I could on and on with a list of deceptive trade practices that target uninformed small business owners regarding Google while they claim to continue to shake things up all in the name of not allowing SEO folks figure out how to manipulate the search results. I call bs on this and if anyone is a manipulator it’s Google. Fraudulent data, smoke and mirrors sorry a– company. They will be exposed eventually.

    • http://afiliatemarketingadviser.com Roger

      Here here! Google cancelled my adwords account for an ad I ran last year (as far as I can tell)when I first started in IM. I want to be straight up and honest but what do they care.

      The search engine updates I understand but the ads?

  • http://afiliatemarketingadviser.com Roger

    Read a lot of the comments so far. Facebook should not fix what ain’t broke. Add functions but tweaking where not needed is bad.

    The similarity to Google has to be if they want to avoid cr*p taking over. People just want to find what they are looking for not viagra.

    Those of you who receive megaspam will know what I mean

    • http://www.goodcontentwebsites.com Paul

      Man…you are so “right on”. Facebook is working fine but trying to out do google for whatever reason(s) will only add to the tons of spam and scam most of us legitimate marketers receive.

      My 2 cents worth.
      Paul

  • http://www.q-ballahmar.com/vb/ aowd25

    Network, councils, Blhamr, respect, signed, by definition, for, tribes, Blhamr, and valleys, and villages, and, well, highlighting the aspects, cultural, where, from, customs and traditions, authentic, and, overlooking, distinct, on, heritage , and its history, and Ansabha, and Aua?lha, location, geographic, and population growth, and prosperity, education, and coping, culture, developed through, education, continuous, and its development, education, developer, education, art, heritage, language, peoples

  • getupstandup

    The establishment has to insure that facebook can’t get shut down in a revolution ANYWHERE in the world because it has become i vital weapon in population control. This is one of the most sophisticated attempts to use new technology to solve the age old problem of ruling class domination that has being unable to achieve its goals non-violently till now !.
    People like Cegia and Assange are like the modern day Che Guevara, they have had war declared on them and now they have declared war back but unlike Guevera this time its technological.. This digital evidence they have suddenly come up with is all just too perfect to be true, just like Straus khan case, power takes care of power and we are all just meant to swallow it with a pinch of salt,
    how convenient it is that when the Straus khan rape victim suddenly has such inconsistencies in her story the justice system will drop the case ? would they do that to a regular guy? And the same with Ceglia, suddenly Mark Zuckerberg has a digital image of a contract and we are all supposed to all call Ceglia a lier and believe a known forger and a known self describing hacker, that is Zuckerberg

  • getupstandup

    To even try to suggest that a digital copy of the contract has as much validity as an actual paper contract that has been forensically tested is just nonsense. why when it is well known of Zuckerberg’s forgery past and well known self depiction as hacker do all these media outlets just act as if we should just believe him? Once again the media takes the side of power against the smaller fish ! this is what gets to me the media and power only protect their interests which is the reason for taking the side of Facebook side on this issue , Just look at the difference in the Wikileaks case ! both Wikileaks and Facebook are big on-line sites with huge amount of public and government interest but you dont see the establishment taking the side of Wikileaks why ? Because unlike Facebook Julian Assange and Wikileaks work for the people interest not the establishments so the establishment goes against it. Paul Ceglia is a man with a legitimate cause! His evidence and banking transactions proves Zuckerberg is trying to fraud someone
    Ceglia began the first organic burial ground in the United states, he started a zero carbon energy factory that used waste wood and waste oil to produce an alternative to foreign oil and he’s been a part of several eco resorts.. The guy even quoted homas Jefferson and talks of good conscience, with Julian Assange saying the Facebook is the most appalling spy machine ever invented and all the proof that the Feds are using it every day with their own portal to spy not only on Americans but on almost every country in the world, Ceglia is fighting on the new frontier of freedom and with his background I would say that our fates and our privacy are in better hands with him than any of the current ruling class politician or business man.. One thing is for sure, He isn’t the establishment like Zuckerberg ! that being the reason the media and courts are taking the side of Facebook.

    And the same with Ceglia, suddenly Mark Zuckerberg has a digital image of a contract and we are all supposed to all call Ceglia a lier and believe a known forger and a known self describing hacker, that is Zuckerberg
    The media and people who need facebook Ceglia a con man all the time, WHY? because he tried to start a business which uses organic ways to produce an alternative to The United States need for foreign oil ? which ended up making a lot of powerful people unhappy. The fact that the New York state attorney general shut him down, is evidence of this and evidence he is one of us, but I don’t see the attorney general shutting down the bastards that have stolen billions from us, or the central bankers that have orchestrated the entire world recession, instead the attorney general goes after an inventivel green-energy business stuggling to keep up with demand. One last point this on media Bias, the press loves to report that Ceglia took 200k in orders that hethat he was unable to fulfill, but they never say he actually paid everyone back in full or gave them their pellets, I don’t see Wall St. Being as business responsible, can you name a single investment banker that gave money from other ventures to cover the losses of the regular people.? I bet not. See the media lies to try and discredit Paul Ceglia ! but it Is just cause hes seen as unimportant compares to Zuckerberg !

    • newbedave

      lisa simpson was made a were of the fact that ZUCKERBERG had sign a contract to PAUL CEGLIA years a go. AND on a video disk ZUCKERBERG openly admitted ;saying that facebook was not his idea . lisa got a court order to get the two disks and distorted the sound track on the disk in a deliberate act to hid the fact zuckerberg stole the idea facebook

  • Art

    Not a chance Google+ will be a threat to Facebook, Facebook will always be big time on the radar screen.
    I knew from the start that Google+ would peter out, and possibly the honeymoon is over. Honestly I think Google+ will be the one facing stiff competition.

  • http://www.hedgehogdigital.co.uk/ SEO Bedford

    The war is far from over but IMO the chances of Facebook loosing its social dominance are the same as Google loosing its search dominance, not much likely. IMO again, Google+ ATM is rather boring I only use to share links hoping they will rank higher, I’m not looking at it as a “social network” just yet.

  • http://www.azucofix.com Registry Cleaner

    Developing a company from scratch is always difficult. Acquisition is the best way to grow quickly and catch up with competitors. But still the “BIG G” (Google) is a hard nut to crack.

  • http://www.electric-reviews.org Mark Demers

    Things and positions can change over night with a changer in their privacy policy. Make the FB`s mad and they`ll all stop using the service and jump to their competitors.
    I can`t see FB losing any other way.
    Acquisitions will definitely improve their site and will help hold their rank while their competition will be scrambling to find ways to out-do them.

  • http://tablightop.com hossein

    بسیار عالی
    سایت واقعاً عالی دارین به همه شما تبریک می گویم

  • /// ted

    Hello! Is this where I leave a comment? This “newbie” has a bit of trouble with the lack of any standardization in Web pages or building; here goes…

    1) A comment on FaceBook (FB?) structure: FB needs an indexing / content organization lay-out… especially where the business entries are concerned. A “roadmap” if you will….My submission of my offering got lost in the shuffle of posting in FB. I’ll admit I don’t “speak the language” any kid handles with ease. English works, too!

    2) I saw a comment by a FB staff (I disremember who) very recently … something about a social SCIENCE? Is there any such thing? The term “social” must imply flexing, instability, emotion, reaction, etc. The very same “things” that a science will not tolerate. Thus, any social label cannot include the term “science”.

  • http://www.prescreenedmktg.com Bob

    I would have to say that Google + is ATM playing major catch up. I think what it will come down to is which Corp. makes better acquisitions in the next few years. They both have an incredible following so we’ll have to see..

  • http://www.islandvillawedding.com Adrian Head

    Maybe if Facebook actually allowed members to make contact to report problems or appeal against their “Big Brother” tactics when banning people who in their opinion are not complying with their rules they would retain more loyalty. Instead of sending you in circles around their “help” pages which often don’t help at they need to provide a contact facility. There is even a Facebook Page now where members are requesting this facility but Facebook, in their wisdom, seem to be ignoring this request. Maybe a subject for an article Chris?

  • Katy

    Surprised to see no mention of Tumblr up there, especially for the younger users.

  • http://www.sharpnchic.com fashion blog

    woah- facebook are competing against google- its kinda scary as they have a lot of info on us- there must be some sort of regulation that stop this…?

  • http://www.mytradezone.com B2B Social Networking

    Interesting to see how Facebook responds to Google+. These social networks still are good mainly for B2C marketing and definitely are not ideal for B2B, as the need of B2B companies are completely different.

    We have realized this and we have recently launched a beta version of a B2B Social Media site http://www.mytradezone.com, where businesses can create their company profile, list products or services, and even submit requests for price quotes. Check it out, and give us your feedback.

    B2B Social Networking