Will Google+ Maim Twitter?

    July 12, 2011
    Chris Crum

There’s been a great deal of talk about Google+ as a Facebook competitor, but how does Google+ stack up as a Twitter competitor? Some think Twitter should be more concerned than Facebook.

I don’t want to say Google+ will “kill” Twitter. Not a big fan of those “this thing will kill this thing” proclamations. Even MySpace still has millions of users. I think “maim” is a more appropriate word though. Google+ could very well damage Twitter’s momentum.

Do you think Google+ is a threat to Twitter? Comment here.

A lot of the Google+ vs. Twitter talk is happening on Google+ itself. These are people that are actually using the service, and actively at that. Many of these early adopters, were also early adopters to Twitter, it’s worth noting.

iEntry CEO and WebProNews publisher Rich Ord recently made some comparisons, saying, “”To me it’s like Twitter in Facebook form on steroids!” He also said, “Google+ looks a lot like Facebook but actually functions more like Twitter. The key is that on Google+ you follow and get followed without reciprocation, just like Twitter. IMO Google+ is competing more for my Twitter time, rather than my Facebook time.”

He also made a good point about the Circles feature, which could be thought of in comparison to Twitter lists..if only they were shareable. “Warming up to Google+ as a business tool. Viewing the company people work for on mouseovers is immensely helpful in finding people for circles.”

Influential social media guy Chris Brogan responded, “Agreed. I’m doing what I can to find people for circles via surfing the interesting folks.”

Other influential social media guy Jason Falls wrote, “I’m wondering if content sharing on Google+ will be more efficiently used than on Twitter. A) I’d be sharing with people who choose to follow me (similar to Twitter), but the action=content prioritization of G+ would put that content in front of more people?”

On our Facebook Page, we asked, “What do you like better: Twitter or Google+?”

We got some interesting responses. One was, “What do you like better: cheese or girls?” I find a few more similarities between Twitter and Google+ than between cheese and girls, but interesting comment nonetheless.

One said, “Too early to tell.” Perhaps.

Another said, “Both.”

Some said Google+. Some said neither. Nobody said Twitter.

Twitter or <a href=Google+?” src=”http://images1.ientrymail.com/webpronews/pictures/twitter-or-plus.jpg” title=”Twitter or Google+?” class=”aligncenter” width=”483″ height=”707″ />

Of course there are plenty of takes being expressed on Twitter as well:

Facebook = Star Wars, Twitter = Empire Strikes Back, Google+ = Return of the Jedi. MySpace = Stupid prequels. 2 days ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Am I the only person who doesn’t care about Google+? Call me when all my friends have gone there and left Facebook and Twitter. 1 hour ago via web · powered by @socialditto

So I’m on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail & now Google + this shit is getting out of hand if you need me just contact my cell 1 hour ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Over the past few years, Twitter’s 140-character limit saved me from destroying my career. Google+‘s unlimited will reverse that in a week. 11 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Why is everyone hating on #Google+ today? My Twitter feed is filled with negativity, lighten up everyone!! 1 hour ago via Twitter for Mac · powered by @socialditto

Matthew Ingram at GigaOm wrote an article asking, “Is G+ more of a threat to Twitter than Facebook?

Steve Rubel of Edelman responded (via Google+): “I really think it is, sorry Twitter.”

In the article, Ingram notes that Rubel is de-emphasizing Twitter focus in favor of Google+, while Digg founder Kevin Rose has redirected his blog to his Google+ account “because there is better conversation there.”

Vator News reported on a BrightEdge study finding that Google’s +1 buttons are already being adopted more than Twitter’s share and Instant Follow buttons. Given that they’ve only been around since early June, that’s pretty impressive.

BrightEdge Research - Social Button Adoption

There are some things to take into consideration here. +1 buttons, while present throughout the Google+ experience, are not exactly the equivalent of a “share to Google+” button. The main draw for publishers to implement the buttons is the potential of influencing search rankings. Twitter sharing does play into that in a more indirect way, but Google has said flat out that +1’s influence rankings. Meanwhile, Google and Twitter have been unable to come to an agreement thus far, regarding the use of Twitter’s firehose. It will be very interesting to see how Google+ impacts search over time – particularly real-time search, which for some sites can have a pretty significant impact on pageviews.

“Twitter has been available to the public for over 5 years. It had a much slower start than Google+, but that’s because of the size of Twitter at the time it launched compared to Google now. Twitter was a small startup with next to no funding; Google is a multi-billion-dollar internet behemoth,” says Lauren Dugan on AllTwitter, an unofficial Twitter resource blog. “However, over the last 5 years, Twitter has gained much media attention and has attracted notable users from the ranks of the celebrities, sports stars, politicians and other icons throughout the world.”

“But despite this growth in awareness, Twitter still hasn’t broken through into the mainstream in terms of actual use,” she adds.

She’s writing in response to a Google+ post from Paul Allen of Ancestry.com, who through some interesting analysis has Google+ pegged at around 10 million users, and on pace to hit 20 million by the weekend. Grain of salt encouraged, but you can read more about this here.

“Now, Twitter touts the fact that it has well over 200 million (and probably more than 300 million) registered users, but in terms of active users, like most of the new signups for Google+ undoubtedly are, the number is likely much less,” writes Dugan. “Think about 10x less… meaning Google+ may have amassed about half of Twitter’s user base in only two weeks.”

Google+ has come about at an interesting time in Twitter’s lifecycle. 2011 has been a year of big changes at Twitter, with the stepping away of co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone and the return of co-founder Jack Dorsey, who also runs the hot mobile payments startup Square.

Since Dorsey’s return, Twitter has been much more aggressive in its conquest for increased user interest, engagement, and retention. This has manifested itself in subtle ways, like design tweaks and ways of suggesting users, and bigger ways, like the acquisition of TweetDeck and the announcement of native photo sharing.

Twitter has faced a fair amount of backlash from developers, over its apparent strategy of weeding out some of the most popular ones by entering the territory on which their respective businesses are built upon (photos, mobile apps, etc.). Twitter has even reportedly caught the eye of the FTC over its competitive practices in this regard ,though in my opinion, all of these developers have already been playing in Twitter’s territory to begin with. When you rely on a third-party like this for your entire business, you have to be prepared for this kind of thing.

Facebook app developers know what I’m talking about. The recent “ban bot” fiasco saw some legitimate Facebook apps get shut down without warning because an algorithm deemed them too spammy. It’s a different scenario, but it drives home the same point: building businesses that rely on bigger businesses to not only thrive, but to operate entirely, is a risky game.

Of course, Google is no stranger to government scrutiny of competitive practices. The FTC recently launched a broad investigation into the company’s business practices, and that started before the company even announced Google+ which should be seen as a direct competitor to: Facebook, Twtitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon (if this last one seems a little questionable to you, I’m basing this on the Sparks feature – a content discovery tool based on the topics you define as your interests – this is essentially what StumbleUpon is, despite its differences in execution), etc.

So yes, there is a lot of competition here. It’s not likely that Google+ will hurt the company in the eyes of the government on the competitive level. It’s got some dragons to slay before it gets to that point – obviously the 700 million-user dragon controlled by Mark Zuckerberg (who has a Google+ account).

That’s not to say Google will never get to that point. It’s way too early to tell just how big this is going to get, but early buzz has been incredibly strong, especially considering the skepticism that usually accompanies Google’s social efforts. Bill Gross thinks it might be the fastest-growing social network ever, and there are still plenty of people just waiting for their invites.

While there is still a whole lot of room for improvement, Google has done some very smart things in the way it has integrated Google+ with its other properties. The navigation bar across Google properties with Google+ notifications in a bright red box with a number in it will keep people coming back (Lee Odden of TopRank Online Marketing said, “Sheesh, that little red number is like G+ crack!”). As will email notifications and the mobile notifications. The mobile app is also a powerful tool, and one that I believe will be very crucial in driving the continued success and customer retention of Google+. Instant upload (for photos) is very convenient and powerful. Right now, Android users get to use it. Soon, iPhone users will too, and then a whole other large segment of people will be able to see these benefits and conveniences first-hand.

And that brings us back to Twitter. iOS 5, coming this fall, will have deep Twitter integration, which will be huge for Twitter. Many people will adopt or simply use Twitter more frequently as their ID. It will be what they’re using throughout many of their IPhone (and iPad) apps.

However, many people are already using their Google IDs for a lot of things (especially on Android), and the beauty of Google+ is that it’s not a new ID. It’s essentially just new features and integrations built around the ID many people have been using for years, whether from Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa Web Albums, YouTube, Google Reader, Google Calendar, etc.

While I do believe that Google+ and Facebook are very much in competition with one another (these companies are in more than one area, as we’ve discussed numerous times), Twitter is very much a part of this conversation.

Can Twitter survive Google+? Tell us what you think.

Follow me on Google+ here. If you need an invite, send us an email at googleinvites@webpronews.com, and we’ll see what we can do.