Facebook, Google+ and how the users cry foul

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s true, the latest changes to Facebook must surely be heaping flattery by the metric ton on Google+.

It’s one of the clearest cases of imitation, without being a direct rip-off, that I can remember for a long time.

I talked before about Google+ doing a lot of things right, notably things like Circles, but the way it handles the stream of user posts.

Well, Facebook has signalled its intention to imitate that very fully – rolling out its Lists feature, which is a poor pretender of Circles, plus revamping its layout and data distribution to the user in a manner that imitates Google+’s.

I’m well aware that a lot of users are very upset by the new changes, mostly through the resistance to change that people have, but what I find most interesting is the fact that people aren’t moving to Google+.

Despite the fact that G+ is now open to all, and it’s even advertised on google.com with a none-too-subtle advert, there isn’t the mass exodus that some industry pundits were speculating on.

What I think is interesting about this is the reason why. Partly because most people tried out G+ but went back to Facebook once it was clear that there wasn’t a lot to keep people on G+, and I suspect there is an element whereby people actually prefer how Facebook operates in terms of layout and interaction.

I think the preference is deeper than simple resistance to change at work, though, I’m willing to entertain the notion that Facebook imitating G+ is actually harmful to it, rather than helping it, even though the score-card suggests imitating G+ is ‘where it’s at’.

The real test, of course, will be whether people actually start boycotting Facebook and/or mass-migrating to G+, and I suspect that if the change is merely a resistance matter, we won’t see much change long term.

One thing I have noticed lately is that users have a tendency to shout and stamp their feet but aren’t really prepared to ‘vote with their feet’ and migrate services, when they’re not happy. For some services, like Facebook, I can certainly see that being the case, just because it’s not like there are a lot of competing services that ‘everyone you know’ is available on.

Time will certainly tell, but I do find it very interesting to note who is copying whom in the social networking battles for user eyeballs; Google+ started out by imitating Facebook and adding twists, and Facebook responded by imitating Google+’s changes.

The next move, surely, is Google’s.

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2 Responses to Facebook, Google+ and how the users cry foul

  1. Arantor says:

    Pretty much, yes.

    I’ve been amusing myself since the roll-out by watching people huff off, vowing never to return, and I’m just waiting to see how long it takes before some of them do…

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