This is a strange post for me to right. 16 months ago, I was sitting by the pool at the house we rented in Costa Rica with 3 of my best friends. It was late, 3, maybe 4 o’clock. We had had one huge party, and only the 4 of us were still up, still sipping one last rhum&coke. It was quiet, the mood (and the alcohol) was favorable for deep discussions. We talked about everything that came up on our minds, and eventually started talking about Facebook. Back then, I was convinced that Facebook had less than 5 years to live, that something better would come up shortly. I didn’t know what, but I knew Facebook was meant to disappear. All of my friends kind of disagreed.
Today, that “something better” has arrived, and it’s called Google+. The question is, do I still think that Facebook is meant to disappear ? The answer is no.
Everyday I see a new “social media expert” going public, saying that, according to Google+’s features, Facebook won’t be able to keep up and could soon face the same fate that MySpace has gone through in the past years.
Can people come back to Earth, remove the stardust stuck in their eyes from all the Google+ buzz, and start thinking straight from a moment ? I think I’m going to kick in the nutts the next person who tells me “Google+ reached 25 million users in a month, Facebook took 3 years to reach that number of users”. Yeah, guess what, if I start composing the best music the world has ever heard in my basement, chances are I won’t sell more than 5 copies of my album the first week I release it. On the other hand, Lady Gaga can produce the biggest piece of shit of a pop album in 3 days, release it on iTunes and will most likely sell close to a million copies on the first week it hits the shelves. Facebook was created by 3 geeks in their Harvard dorm; Google+ was created by the biggest Internet company in the world, which also happens to have a spot in the Fortune 500 companies. Yeah, Google kinda had a head start.
What also scares people is that they saw what happened to MySpace once Facebook came around, and now they can’t help to fear that this is what is going to happen to Zuckerberg’s empire. Without pretention, I tend to say that these people have no clue what the hell they’re talking about. Am I the only one here that sees what Facebook has become, compared to what MySpace was ? Facebook is no longer the website to only post your drunk photos from the night before (I know, there is still some of that), it has become the biggest sharing platform in the world. There are over 30 BILLION pieces of content shared every month on the website. I learned about the recent Oslo bombing 12 minutes after it happened, and guess where I saw the news…Facebook. My parents watched the 6 o’clock news that night and saw it there, several hours after I had read the endless number of detailed articles that were linked straight from Facebook (and a bit of Twitter too). Facebook is the news, Facebook is the biggest photo album, Facebook is a gaming platform, Facebook is everything.
MySpace had many flaws. It was hard to use at first, it required customization that came with complicated code, it loaded slow as hell even on a high-speed internet connection, and so on. Plus, back in the days, MySpace was far from being as popular as Facebook. It was a rare thing to meet someone back then who had a MySpace. Personally, a very small portion of my friends and people and I know were on MySpace. Today, meeting someone without a Facebook is pretty much like meeting someone without a cellphone. EVERYONE is on Facebook, from pre-teens, to grandparents, to artists, companies, organizations, people even make Facebook pages for their dogs and cats. I see some people who have their father, mother, aunt, uncle, and the rest of the family interacting on their Wall, something I would have never imagined I’d see in my entire life.
Speaking of these family members, does anybody really think that a 74-year-old Grandpa, who hardly even knows what is an internet connection, but who managed to get his grandson to create a Facebook page for him, is going to make the switch to Google+ ? Please, don’t even bother answering. Facebook has spread to people who barely use computers, just because it is now a worldwide phenomenon.
Let’s take a look at both social media interfaces.
See any similarities ? Google+ has pretty much copied Facebook pixel by pixel, so what do you think will happen with all the shiny new features that Google+ offers? Yes, Facebook will copy them, and just like that, Facebook will always be more complete than G+ will ever be.
Facebook has 750 millions users, that’s about 11% of the world’s population. Off that, remove the 500 million people that are considered to live in total poverty, remove almost a billion people in China who have their own social network, QZone, and that percentage increases a lot. Yes, 25 million users is huge, but it’s far from a number that would make Zuckerberg lose sleep over. Eminem has twice as many Facebook fans than Google+ has normal users, so they have a long way to go.
To me, Facebook has now become to social media what McDonald’s has become to fast-food, what Wal-Mart has become to retail stores, what the iPod has become to portable music players. If someone would launch a new internet search engine, would you think it stood a chance against Google ? The same goes for new social networks, and whether it’s Google starting a new one or some unknown geek, it’s too late.