Almost all of the social media hoopla lately has been about Google+ and its relationship with Facebook. Just over a month ago, it was impossible to conceive of anyone truly competing against Facebook, yet Google was able to make such a large splash that many are already calling it a question of “when” rather than “if” they can overtake Facebook and dominate our frivolous online time spend.
Does it really have to be one or the other?
Mathematically, yes, there’s really no way for both to survive indefinitely. One will have to crush the other simply because there aren’t enough hours in the day otherwise, right? That may be how it appears on the surface, but it’s possible for both to be sustainable for a very long time if one glorious thing happens…
First, let’s watch this video about the current state of the battle:
When I say “consolidation” I’m not talking about Google buying Facebook or either forming any sort of partnership (or even a lukewarm friendly relationship for that matter). I mean that the truly effective and useful tool or app, the “one ring to rule them all” hasn’t been developed yet. That won’t last long – there are likely people who recognize the facts and are working on it while you’re reading this article.
Imagine a tool not unlike Tweetdeck or Hootsuite that unified the streams. Imagine Facebook, Google+, Twitter, whatever, showing on a stream that makes monitoring, responding to, and engaging with people on any of the networks easy. It’s not far from what is already being done, but the one element that nobody of prominence has ever released is a client that truly combined the streams and allowed for simultaneous responses and posts across all of the networks.
Ping.fm is a strong contender, but it lacks the unified monitoring abilities. Tweetdeck and the like monitors the networks well, but the timelines are not combined. That app (we’ll call it Connect) would make it possible for people to experience all of their networks at the same time and along one social graph.
All of the major players have APIs that would allow this to be created. The interface would need to be flawless – there are definite potential drawbacks to any technology that relies on other companies’ technologies to work. Just a tweak to code by any of them could send the whole platform into turmoil.
Still, the benefits would be strong and people would likely adopt it, especially during this transitional period where many people have all of the networks. Some people have tried Google+ and have already jumped out of Facebook. Others have tried Google+ and shifted their attention back to Facebook almost immediately.
The only people who are aware of any such technologies are the ones currently building them. The rest of us will have to wait, but it will come. When it does, it may become more clearly possible for Google+ and Facebook to continue almost indefinitely.