There can be no doubt that the social networking phenomenon is with society for the long haul. We have already witnessed the fast rise and then in the case of MySpace the slow painful death of the original social network that surpassed the 170 million members milestone. Since then, Facebook has surpassed the massive level of 750 million users worldwide.
We also know that in general terms a lot of these particular economy’s populations are not as educated as we are in the west in terms of the importance of privacy and societies value of privacy. Obviously, this will hopefully change over time…
Moving on the current key USP in the Facebook vs. Google+ battle is the totally opposite manner in which each social network approaches the issue of user privacy. Facebook makes it extremely hard to delete your account and all the information and media that you uploaded. On the flip side as a test, I deleted my Google+ account and also managed to pick up another invite to the invite only beta without any problems. What was the key element that I liked? Quite simply it was the seamless and easy manner in which I could delete my account and everything contained within it.
In terms of growth Google is outpacing both Twitter and Facebook. As the graph below outlines it only took Google+ 16 days to reach 10 million users (and that is on an invite only basis), whilst it took Twitter 780 days and Facebook 852 days to each reach the same milestone.
And yes a straight down the line comparison is not right as, circumstances have evolved and social networking is more ingrained in our everyday life, as both a personal and business tool, than when Facebook first launched. Yet the fact Google+ has had such an incredible initial growth rate is amazing and does depict a rapidly evolving social networking sector. Reliable sources informed TMV, that as of yesterday that Google+ users were close to exceeding the 25 million mark (in less than a month).
However, if one were to examine the lesson of recent history in the social networking space, we would all do well to learn some very important lessons. TMV would state the first lesson is that as soon as your growth in new users is predominately in the over 45+ bracket as is currently the case with Facebook, then kids begin to leave in droves. Why is this you ask? Well think back to when you were a kid. Did you like your parents knowing what you got up to? It’s the same online and when a social network begins to witness a significant increase of the older age demographic becoming users, it stops being cool.
Kids were the drivers behind the initial success of MySpace, and as soon as parents started to join, kids left in droves and a lot of them moved over to Facebook. When the older demographic populates what were once the online hangouts of kids, it ceases to be “cool” to the kids and so they move onto a newer emerging platform.
Secondly, whilst MySpace went from being a $580 million company with just over 170 million registered users at its peak, it was recently sold for less than 10% of its original price only 6 years later with an active user base of less than 30 million.
Yes Facebook’s 750 million users is a more dominant beast than MySpace ever was at its peak, history has already played out once in terms of MySpace. Based on what seems to be history repeating itself with Facebook’s main area of growth (in western economies) being, the 55+ age group -TMV would state it is a brave person that bets against history.
Compounding this is the simple logic that as soon as parents start populating kids social networking space, kids move out and help create the new “cooler” online social networking hangout.
The fact Google has email, Google docs, Google Voice, analytics and a whole suite of other tools, leads TMV to hazard a guess that within a three-year time frame Google+ will be the dominant social network in the western world, and Facebook may well be the dominant network in the developing world. In terms of advertising rates which both of these beasts are built around, advertising rates are a hell of a lot lower in the developing world in comparison to the developed western economies. Why does that matter? I know where I would be investing and it is not Facebook.