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Google’s Contribution to Social Networks

Google+, remember that? It’s still there you know, although you are statistically less likely to know it if you’re a) not male or b) not a geek. It seems mad to suggest that with over 20m users the platform is not considered a popular social network, but with Facebook’s active users amounting to 800m and counting only a deluded Googler would dare declare Google + a contender for the world’s most popular social networking site..

What I’d like to suggest though is that Google has contributed hugely to our social experience, even those of you who aren’t aware of Google+.

Something Borrowed and Something New

Quite simply for every intelligent Google + feature that seems to get good feedback from the community Facebook has rolled out something similar.

So Google has circles to allow users to decide what information they see and where it’s inherently an intelligent privacy model too. To match this Facebook rolled out various features including a Subscribe button allows you to mute certain friends without them knowing (just as putting them in a ‘ignore’ circle on Google+) . Smart lists were introduced allowing a user to see a specific subset of their friends, typical circles on Google+ have been ‘friends’, ‘co-workers’, ‘In the neighbourhood’ and ‘College friends’ and these same subsets are the default smart lists on the new Facebook profile. Importantly the privacy model has changed. Privacy settings are now inline with each post allowing you to modify exactly who you share each post with- you’ll never guess where else this exists.  Google +? Yes. The company made privacy a fundamental cornerstone of its product ( I blogged about it here), I’m delighted that Facebook reacted.

Another feature to have been borrowed is improved image settings. Given how huge sharing photos is to the community (not least to brands) it was about time the presentation received a little attention. Images are larger and displayed at a higher resolution, mimicking Google+’s brilliant work on the photo front. Alongside geeks, Google+ is beloved by the photography community.

Facebook’s blog details each feature in an insightful blog, although there’s no mention of where the inspiration lies.

Adapt and Evolve

What I hope is that Facebook continues to borrow and consequently offer an improved service. How else can they progress if there isn’t a competitor? The impending timeline switch is coming soon and once the hubbub dies down it will be a welcome feature that allows users (and eventually brands) to tell a more complete story.

The latest Google+ feature is the creative kit which allows users to apply filters to their images and ‘auto-fix’ them. With the popularity of Instagram, Hipstomatic and the new Flickr app it can’t be too far away, it’s my bet it will be introduced by Christmas.

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