The New Social Media Landscape: A Roadmap

It may look like Google+ is competing with Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t think that is what will happen in the end. I think Google+ is a very different kind of service and it’s not clear that it can or will, or should, replace these other services.

In a series of articles here on my blog, I’ve explained the differences between these services, and what Google+ is really for and what it means for the rest of the social media giants:

  1. Google+ is Really for Sharing Knowledge, Not Social Networking
  2. Should Facebook be Worried About Google+?
  3. Why Twitter’s API Strategy Must Change in a Google+ and Facebook World
  4. Why the Google+ Developer Ecosystem Will be Different from Twitter

The conclusion I draw from all this is that instead of one social network to rule them all, I think it’s more likely that the social media landscape is going to divide into different territories, with each of the major social networks playing a different role.

Here’s how I think this all going to shake out:

  • Facebook is for social networking
  • LinkedIn is for business networking
  • Google+ is for knowledge networking
  • Twitter is for notifications

They just don’t know it yet.

Here is some more detail on this idea:

  • Facebook is for social networking
    • Facebook is the new social infrastructure for the planet, and Google+ is no match for it. By social, I mean non-professional, personal, friend-to-friend and group communication. There’s a lot more happening in Facebook than this however: gaming, branding, groups, marketing. But all this other activity depends on the fact that people spend so much time in Facebook, socializing. This is very different from what’s happening on Google+ and Twitter as well.
  • LinkedIn is for business networking
    • It’s the infrastructure for professional networking in the old-school sense – as in getting a job, finding customers, locating partners, hiring people, doing biz dev and sales, etc. LinkedIn is the most differentiated and focused of all these players: they know what they’re good at and they’re not trying to be all things to all people. Now LinkedIn needs to build more bridges into more third-party applications and services to keep people aware of it and using it.
  • Google+ is for knowledge networking
    • Google+ is an infrastructure for sharing knowledge, not social networking. Knowledge has always been Google’s strength and core focus. Knowledge is not just articles, but the conversations around them, and these conversations are one of Google+’s best features. More importantly, because Google has such a powerful search infrastructure, and such a powerful computing architecture, they are in a position to combine Google+ with search and massive analytics and machine learning, to dynamically re-organize and connect both the Web and the real-time Stream. By doing this Google+ could be a potential successor for the Blogosphere, and could leap far ahead of other competing search engines as well.
  • Twitter is for notifications
    • Twitter is really a notifications infrastructure. That’s what they do best, and what they should be focusing on. They are executing on the wrong strategy right now. They are trying to be a media company, but that is not their strength and others already are far ahead of them at that. But as an infrastructure for short notifications, Twitter has an opportunity to be unique and win, if they focus on that. Twitter has replaced RSS, for better or for worse, as the primary way people and applications share and track these kinds of notifications. Twitter could leverage this position to become the notifications infrastructure for the whole world – and for all of the other networks – even for G+ and Facebook – if they played their cards right and stopped focusing on competing for eyeballs.

7 thoughts on “The New Social Media Landscape: A Roadmap

  1. Mark Cahill


    To me Twitter is for notifications, but it is also an “information network”, look how it has changed real-time news. I also use Twitter to keep up to date with topics such the Web, technology, and marketing.

    Facebook is a social network !

    Google+ is a Hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. It seems to balance both a social network and an (organised ) information network

    You are right it is powerful for Knowledge, and organisation it, but look at Google Plus Hangouts, this is designed for communication and networking and Sparks is for conversations around an interest, which is a way of organising information while including communication and collaboration. 


  2. Pingback: The path to success for Google+

  3. Anonymous

    I think lines between social network sites and “normal” ones are blurring and as a result new players (like our start-up) is emerging. So defining one as something is nearly impossible. And main differentation will be main strategy not overlapping features inside.

  4. Ricky Yean

    Agree with your prediction for Facebook and LinkedIn, but Google+ and Twitter are still to be played out. You definitely highlighted the strengths of the two companies and what kind of outcome would be best for them and for everyone. Good stuff Nova!

    – Ricky

  5. Tim Diels

    I’d like to add that they all have a quite similar feature set, the main difference is how the users use it, what they end up sharing on it, which is affected by how each network markets itself.

    For example, Google+ easily has the features to replace Twitter, but if its users don’t share interesting links and thoughts like is the case on Twitter, then it won’t.

  6. Anonymous

    I really liked this blog about social medias. It explains the differences between three main social networks with a clear details which are useful feedback and knowledge for my class of Social Media strategy in marketing. 

  7. stefankrafft

    Do like your straight forward approach about this topic and I do think you´re right about how this services will look like in the future. What comes up in my mind when I read your post is;
    1. Twitter is not a network for conversation or what?
    2. How should users post their “stuff” in the future? What I mean is that the content that the users provide the different services is what it is. Therefore I am not sure about how Google+ will have a chance to stand out in the way that you predicts.

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