Amy Moczynski / Digital Marketing / September 21st, 2011

If It's Not Broken, Just Update It Anyway

In one corner, weighing in with 750 million users (most of
which are actively posting about the new version of the home page today), we
have Facebook. In another corner, with 25 million users (as of early August), we
have Google+, which also has users who are expressing frustration at Facebook’s
new changes. Both have unveiled new features this week, perhaps intended as blows
toward the other. But who will come out on top as the King of the Updates?

Let’s start with Facebook. As I’m sure you’ve already
discovered today, Facebook has unveiled its new news feed feature. It prominently
displays your friends’ photos on the home page and attempts to place the
stories it believes you will find most relevant at the top of your news feed.
Also new to the home page is a scrolling update bar that takes Facebook
stalking to a whole new level. Now instead of just seeing what information your
friends are posting on each other’s walls, you can see everything your friends
are doing while on Facebook, even if they are posting on pages you aren’t fans
of or interacting with other users you aren’t friends with. 

Why, Facebook, why?

I don’t need to be aware of every single movement someone is
making. Seriously, Facebook: Stop it.

(Oddly enough, found
this gem on Facebook.)

Another change Facebook made is enabling users to easily
assign their friends into predefined lists, while also letting them create
their own friend groups so users can control who receives certain information.
Sound familiar? It’s because Google+ thought of the concept first, only it called
them “circles.” Facebook also allows users to subscribe to people who make
their posts public, like celebrities and public figures. Again, remind you of
anything?

While I know Google+ is still in its infancy, doesn’t it
seem like Facebook is shaking in its boots a little here? Clearly it realizes
the advantages Google+ offers, and it doesn’t want to be left behind. If you
can’t beat them, join them – only in a slightly less efficient way?

But Facebook isn’t the only one making big moves this week.
Google+ made its own changes, the most important of which is that the service
is now open to the public. Anyone been on Google’s home page today? If you did,
you probably saw this:

Yup, Google is finally allowing anyone access to its social
platform. Will this help boost the number of users? Guess we’ll have to just
wait and see, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence Google+ decided to make its
services open to the public the same week Facebook is making major updates.
(Apparently Facebook is set to unveil a
major profile redesign
at its f8 developer conference

Another improvement to Google+ is users can finally search
within Google+ for topics or users. Yes, that’s a new feature. Why a company that is well known for its search
capabilities didn’t include this feature to begin with is beyond me.

So what do you think of the new changes to Facebook and
Google+? Who had the better updates?

  • Kim White

    FB’s next move: it will post comments on your wall it thinks you might want to say to the people it thinks you would want to say it to.

  • Michelle

    There comes a point when personalizing something to a user makes it too cumbersome to actually use. For the user with perhaps only 100 or less Facebook "friends", the list-based update notifications simply create clutter on the page. Although I have resisted Google+ for a little while now, the clean lines of the site are really starting to call to me, while Facebook’s new interface has me feeling overwhelmed and irritated.

  • TD

    Facebook just went from borderline stalker to full stalker. Never go full stalker. By the way, good writing Amy.

  • Geoff

    Is it just me, or did Facebook veer more in the direction of Twitter and Google+ with this update? They now seem to be going for quantity over quality, by focusing more on what’s recent rather than what’s actually good and relevant.

  • Brian Keller

    I agree with most of what you said, but I think it’s a bit short sighted to suggest that Facebook is copying Google here. Google+ wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for Facebook’s success. The fact is that Facebook is garnering much more viewing time per user than Google ever had, and Google is desperately trying to reinvent itself to try to capture some of that potential ad revenue. Frankly, I’m sticking with Facebook. PS: Your comment interface doesn’t seem to work in IE9. Please fix it.