The world doesn’t need another social network. Especially when you have one that already has 750 million highly active users in it.
The reasons why Facebook overtook MySpace was because it was different and solved a different set of problems. Facebook introduced “real identity” to the web. And, the “newsfeed” created a whole new distribution channel for sharing on the web that now rivals with likes of search for traffic.
But, now with 750 million users, with four billion things being shared everyday, noise has taken over the channel. Therefore, you don’t get to see the content you want to see; Facebook decides what you should see. This becomes a fundamental problem that causes frustration and where Google+ got it right with Circles.
On my Facebook account I have 474 Facebook friends. These range from family, close friends, co-workers, passive contacts, and acquaintances. However, when I log into Facebook – my newsfeed isn’t relevant.
I rarely see my family and close friends – it’s basically about everyone else. Not a week goes by, when I have to hide connections from showing up on my feed. And that’s the bigger problem of the social web. Everyone loves the concept of the social graph, but the real defining graph – is your “implicit graph.”
While it took me some time to get used to, I now understand why Google+ forces you to organise your social graph into circles: Friends, Family, Acquaintances, Following and any other circle you wish to create. The first two groups are your “implicit graph”, Acquaintances becomes your “extended social graph”, and Following becomes your “interest graph” much like Twitter.
Even though, not many people are on it yet (10 million vs. 750 million), I already love the organisation of the feeds. It makes sense, I get to now control the information I want in the circles I create, and I get to see my implicit graph come to life on a social network. This is a key difference and this behavioural insight gives Google+ a real chance to compete with Facebook.
I’ve always been a big believer that the “social graph” was just our explicit graph – an index of our address book of connections. But, the Holy Grail is going to be whoever can ascertain our “implicit graph” to show the content, messaging, and social experience consumers really want. It seems Google+ will be bringing that to a social network.