Google and the Rise of Facebook

In 2007, I said that Facebook would be the homepage for your personal brand. Now it seems that Facebook is officially setting out to become your homepage period.

The other day I logged into Facebook and noticed a new message at the top of the screen. I was presented with a simple way to make Facebook my homepage so that I could see "what's happening with friends as soon as I opened my browser." And, I'm not the only one.

Why am I taking the time to let you know that Facebook is making it easy for you to drag and drop Facebook to your home button?

Facebook started out as a social network, but it is officially growing into a full-fledged personal OS, where friends and experiences are interconnected inside and outside of Facebook. And, at the center of everything is you. Facebook is a platform where relationships create the construct for the 3C's of information commerce. The acts of sharing and consuming content in social media represent the social dealings between people and set the stage for interaction and education.But, it is the platform that offers a sandbox for development and also a solid foundation for social architecture. It is the sites that feature Facebook interconnects that weave the fabrics of relationships and the ties and interests that bind us.

More than one million websites have integrated with Facebook Platform.

150 million people engage with Facebook on external websites every month.

Two-thirds of comScore's U.S. Top 100 websites and half of comScore's Global Top 100 websites have integrated with Facebook.

The more we interact with Facebook around the Web through Likes, Shares, and Comments, the more we feed the social effect and the greater the personalization inside Facebook and within its partner sites.

Indeed, according to comScore, Facebook traffic soared by 55.2% hitting 151.1 million in October 2010, up from 97.4 visitors at the same time last year. It's also important to note that Facebook was home to 300 million active denizens last year and now it has a population of more than 550 million. While Google is earning 173.3 million visits in the U.S., Facebook's trajectory is only gaining in mass and force. And it's only gaining momentum ...

- 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day

- The average user has 130 friends

- People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

Google Me

Over the years, Google has missed steps to foster a social network of its own, perhaps focusing on a culture of code rather than a culture of social sciences. What lies ahead is a quiet war where your social graph is at stake. Facebook is taking large steps to move you away from Google and toward the social web. As this new "homepage" request rolls out to active users worldwide, we will see many follow Facebook's instruction to now make the social graph the starting point to their online experience each and every time they fire up their browser. Doing so changes behavior and teaches us that we can indeed get a little help from our friends by leaning on them for empowerment, entertainment, and enlightenment.

What's materializing before us may in fact represent the beginning of the end of the Google era of Web domination. This is the rise of the Facebook economy (F-commerce) where commerce represents the currency of information and engagement and the net worth of the relationships we nurture. While it doesn't beat the drum in its march toward online supremacy, Facebook is in fact setting out to help you improve the way you communicate, discover, and share. Since you are at the center of the social egosystem, Facebook is designing products and services that make managing and interacting with your social graph more efficient.

From Gmail to Facebook.com > We now have a new messaging platform on its way to us with @facebook.com email addresses yours for the taking. It changes how we think about messages and exchanges and may in fact, encourage us to follow Zuckerberg's vision away from the traditional inbox. By integrating messaging into one system that connects through multiple clients and devices, Facebook also starts to minimize the value of Google Talk. Does Google turn its 193 million Gmail users out of the inbox and toward a social network ... something like say, GoogleMe? Now with its social hooks in MySpace, Google must revisit its human algorithm.

From Google.com to Facebook search > The future of search is social and we are already investing in social media optimization (SMO) in addition to SEO. We can't underestimate Facebook search. Google has long dominated search and the behemoth of a company is showing its age and its weaknesses. Even though Google is experimenting with integrating social into traditional search results, its algorithm is in dire need of a human touch--a human algorithm. At the same time, Facebook is slowly but surely improving its search feature. What used to simply display results within the network, now starts to feature results from around the Web where the displayed list is curated by the actions of your friends--as part of the platform. This will only improve and become more substantial in the coming months.

From Google Voice to Facebook + Skype > Google Voice is a valuable service that combines voice, Web, and email. While it's not getting thunderous roars of attention, Skype and Facebook are introducing the ability to call friends directly from the News Feed. As this integration becomes seamless and demand for such a service gains awareness and pervasiveness, Facebook and Skype will rival Google Voice one day.

From Google Latitude to Facebook Places > Google is experimenting with geo location, but Facebook Places is gaining mass adoption. Competing for attention online and offline is helping Facebook merge experiences and channel the activity into the News Feed.

From Google Groups to Facebook Groups > Google Groups was once one of the Web greatest hosts for contextual networks, groups organized by interests, events, and causes. Now with the release of the new and improved Facebook Groups, people are forming nicheworks, networks within networks. Their focused activity is enhanced by a dedicated group framework that fosters collaboration and conversation whether the group unites relationships or actions linked by strong, weak, or temporary ties.

From Google Docs to Facebook + Microsoft Office > Google Docs are the industry standard for Web collaboration around documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms and artistic canvases. While the world was abuzz with Facebook's messaging service, Microsoft introduced Office Web Apps as part of the new messaging system. The technology alliance allows people to view Word, Excel and PowerPoint attachments with the Office Web Apps directly in Facebook. It just the beginning of something more productive ...

Twitter Me This ... The Facebook Generation

And what of Twitter? I believe it is the moon that orbits a networked planet. It turns the tides. It defines its rotation.

Twitter is your window to relevance, but Facebook is your homepage for the social Web.

According to recent data released by Hitwise, Facebook accounts for 25% of all page views in the U.S. And it's only going to skyrocket as we interact with content and one another through the Facebook platform. Depending on which data we review, Google is either in Facebook's rearview mirror or in its sights. Hitwise claims Facebook has already surpassed Google in terms of views. Earlier we stated that comScore has Facebook nipping at Google's heels. Either way, it's just a matter of time until Facebook traffic surpasses Google with tenable data supporting the historic milestone.

We are witnessing the dawn of the social consumer and their network of preference for the immediate future is Facebook.

As I've previously observed, the medium is no longer just the message. In social, the medium is the platform and as such, people now represent both the medium and the message where reach is defined by a blending of the social graph, the context of the story and the expansion and contraction of strong, weak, and temporary connections. The Facebook platform serves as the foundation for our Social OS and in turn, we are its driving force. With every action, we trigger an equal and opposite reaction. With our relationships serving as Facebook's construct, we are realizing that the social graph effect may in fact, spark greater volumes of reaction than Google, or any of us, may have anticipated. Welcome to the Facebook generation ... the question is, will you call Facebook home?

Reprinted from BrianSolis.com

Brian Solis is the author of Engage and is one of most provocative thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis's research and ideas have influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSolis, YouTube, or at BrianSolis.com.

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3 Comments

  • Jym Allyn

    Your observation about the evolution and differentiation of Facebook and Google is brilliant, but you missed one significant metaphor regarding the differentiation.
    Facebook is the superficial "here and now" of personal interactions. Google is the "what and where" of information.
    As a result (here comes the metaphor) as we embark in our technology "Time Machine" Facebook users are Eloi to Google users Morlocks.
    There will be a place for both of them.