Google Plus, Facebook – The Race Is On!

I jumped onto the Google Plus bandwagon the day it was launched. For the following fortnight, my mailbox was innundated with notifications of people adding me to their circles. I’m still receiving requests to send invitations. Suffice to say Google’s ‘let’s make this an exclusive club’ policy continues to work wonders.

I’m still not terribly impressed by Google Plus, given that it just feels a lot like Facebook. The share-with-who-you-please feature that they rode in on, has been possible on Facebook too. I don’t remember if this feature was already there or if Facebook introduced it as a knee-jerk reaction but now I can choose who sees my status update right when I post it.

Google Plus’s Sparks gave me a chance to pause and think there might be something different on offer. But it turns out to be no more than a list of shared content under a particular tag. Well, it could be an interesting enough feature one supposes. Google Plus certainly is trying to straddle both the Twitter (with tag-searches) and Facebook (sharing, communities) worlds.

Some of the things that I’m waiting for Google Plus to come up with:

  • Pages
  • Login accounts on Seismic and Tweetdeck
  • Comment with/ Share on options on website/blog toolbars

Facebook tagging doesn’t seem to be working. I usually link to related content on the Pages of my blogs (The Idea-smithy, XX Factor) and if the source is also on Facebook, I tag their Pages/Profiles. People who are on my friends lists and Pages I’ve liked are uniformly not appearing anymore in the drop-down menu after I type in ‘@’. If this is a bug, then it’s a mighty bad time for it to happen, Facebook. If not, I can’t see why Facebook would do away with a feature that makes it easier to connect and engage with people.

At the moment, I find I’m unable to Unlike Facebook Pages that I’ve liked before. The error message of,

“Something went wrong. We’re working on getting it fixed as soon as we can.”

is all I get for my clicks. This might seem like a simple technical bug (perhaps not as drastic as a security leak). But consider why a user would want to Unlike a Page that they’ve liked before. The Facebook algorithm that shows up only Profiles & Pages you interact with a lot means that most users probably don’t care to ‘unlike’ a page after it has been liked, even if they don’t care about it any more, because they simply don’t see it anymore. A user who takes the effort to visit a Page to Unlike it is aware of its existence and does not want to be made aware of it through updates any more. This is probably the most extreme negative emotion a user can have with a Page. Not being able to Unlike and hence being forced to see those updates on one’s stream can be severely off-putting. It made me shut my window and switch to the other one with Google Plus (where there were only friend updates and no marketing messages from brands whose Pages I may have once liked and was now unable to Unlike).

I’ve said before and I still say that a social network is only as good as its members. I’m on Google Plus only because most of my community is hanging out there at the moment. The minute I see them all moving either back to Facebook or onto something new, I’ll move with them. Features notwithstanding, I’m hardly likely to hang around a cool hangout if there are no cool people to hang out with.

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