Facebook vs Google Plus

The battle between Facebook and Google Plus is getting hot. And as someone said some days ago, the winner in this battle is the user, who gets new long-awaited features and improvements to social networks (and, for those who are that sort of person, new reasons to complain).

Google Plus vs Facebook

After the Subscribe button and the possibility to choose which updates to receive from your friends, Facebook announced a huge restyle of the Home Page, the place where you see all the updates from your friends and from the people you subscribed to.

In the central part of the Home Page you now find Top Stories or Recent Stories. If you haven’t logged in to Facebook for a while, you’ll automatically see the Top Stories on top, while if you refresh your Home Page from time to time during the day, you’ll see the most Recent Stories.

What is a Top Story? Well, it may be a status or a picture from one or your friends, pages, groups or people you subscribed to, that has been commented, shared or liked by many people. But the good thing about Top Stories (and about the new News Feed in general) is that you can interact with it, telling Facebook what you want or don’t want to read in your Home Page.

Facebook - How to add a news in your Top Story
When you see an update in your News Feed, you can click on the triangle in the upper left corner of the update to “Top Story” it (see image above). From that moment on, Facebook will try to put more stories like that at the top of your News Feed.

Facebook - How to remove a news from your Top Story
On the other hand, if an update in your Top Stories is of no interest to you, you click on the triangle to remove it from “Top Story” (see image above). From that moment on, Facebook will try not to put more stories like that at the top of your News Feed.

Facebook - How to change your News Feed options
Another interesting improvement is the drop-down menu you find in each update in your new News Feed. Here you can directly choose what kind of updates you want from that particular friend or person you subscribed to. I find this particularly useful to make your Home Page relevant.

The Ticker is the other main update in the Facebook Home Page, an update that many users did not like at first (see this article and this article for early Facebook users’ reactions). In this Ticker, similar to Twitter in some ways, you see what your friends are doing in a continuous flow. It’s difficult to say now if this feature will be useful and successful in the long term, I think much of its success will depend on the possibility of users to decide which kind of actions to show to other people in their Ticker (for example, I may not want to tell other people each time I’m playing a game on Facebook so openly …).

Facebook - The Ticker

Google Plus has gone Open Beta last Tuesday, opening its gates to everyone who wants to join. Many of the announcements done have to do with the mobile version of Google Plus, but some interesting things have also been announced for the PC version of Google Plus.

First of all, the Search feature (who would have thought about a Search feature talking about Google?). It is now possible to seek out other users, posts and content from the web just like you would do on Google’s search engine.

The greatests and most interestings announcements regards Hangouts, the video chat tool inside Google Plus, that is now available also on mobile devices. Hangouts On Air is the possibility to broadcast your video to large audiences. Google also launched some nice social and productivity Hangouts features (Hangouts with extras … Google guys really like to name things):

  • Screensharing: for when you want to show off your vacation photos, your high score, your lesson plan or whatever else is on your screen
  • Sketchpad: for when you want to draw, doodle, or just scribble together
  • Google Docs: for when you want to write, plan or present something with others
  • Named Hangouts: for when you want to join or create a public hangout about a certain topic (like fashion or music or sports…)

Google Plus - Hangouts with Extras, the Sketch tool

Last, Google announced the introduction of the “+1” button on the Google Display Network. So Google is introducing social recommendations in web advertising, and this is something that can have very interesting implications in the future:

If you’re running display ads through the Google Display Network you may begin seeing the +1 button and personal annotations with your ads. With a single click, people can recommend the ad’s landing page to their friends and contacts. Incorporating personal recommendations into display ads has the potential to change the way people view advertising. A display ad becomes much more powerful when people can see which of their friends and contacts have chosen to endorse it.

Google Plus - +1 button and personal annotations in ads

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