Several years ago the Tomato ketchup market in India was dominated by Kissan. When Maggi decided to enter the segment, their marketing campaign simply said, “It’s different.” They did not emphasize on ketchup, their slogan made you want to try Maggi ketchup because they claimed something was different and the thing is, the campaign worked. How does this relate to Google+ & Facebook? Well, like the ketchup from Maggi & Kissan, Google+ & Facebook are social networks but Google+… it’s different and here’s why:

Friends vs Contacts

  • Facebook is about friends
  • Google has been about contacts

When one first joins Facebook, they aren’t looking for their boss but a cousin or a school friend. (Unless of course the boss is hot and you want to know more about the boss.) Facebook started as a network to find friends, where one “connected” with friends.

We write on a friend’s wall, we email our contacts.

Google on the other hand, with Gmail has been slightly more formal or professional. Google has always had contacts, not friends, unlike Facebook.  Google+ lets you make huddles

Connections vs Communication

Facebook allows you to connect with old (and new) friends. Facebook uses algorithms to find people you might know. Facebook is about connecting A to B or C. A, B & C are individual who might know each other based on their profiles and common friends.

Once connected, there can be communication between connections but connection isn’t in itself communication.

Google isn’t about creating connections, you know a person’s gmail id, you add him to communicate with him over email, Gtalk (text or video). I go to Gmail to send my colleagues an email about work or setup a conference, Facebook tells me who my friend is interested in.

Sharing+Communicating vs Entertainment+Connecting

Google+ is about sharing specific content with your circles and uploading photos and videos. Facebook does a lot more than that. Facebook has Credits, has movie streaming options, Farmville, Deals and Fan pages. Google+ doesn’t do any of this which is what makes it different.

You share and communicate with your contacts while play or buy with friends.

(But this isn’t to say one doesn’t share and communicate on Facebook. Uploading a picture and the following comment thread is communication and that’s why both are social networks.)

Turning Friends into Contacts & vice versa

Windows Phone 7 lets you pull in Facebook information about your contacts onto the phone effectively turning your friends into contacts. Google+ on the other hand, lets you create circles of your contacts, effectively turning contacts into friends.

As I’ve been tweeting for a while, Google+ is a social network for 30+. They are the ones who communicate with contacts and connect with friends a lot more than teens who connect and communicate with their friends. Unfortunately for Google, teens will still go to Facebook because of the Entertainment+Connecting capabilities and they will stick to Facebook till they are 30.

In my opinion, Google+ is a social network, like Facebook but fundamentally it is different to Facebook. Miscommunication between the product management team, PR and marketing have led to this clusterfuck of Google+ being labelled as a Facebook competitor when it is not.

Google+ is Google’s attempt at social but, “it’s different.”

PS: Circles is the perfect implementation of what Facebook Groups and Friend Lists wanted to do.