My Breakdown of the Big Three
Facebook and Twitter have dominated social networking for a few years now. (Yes, there is LinkedIn and others, but who really uses them? How many people do you know who've logged in this week?) In contrast to everything else, Facebook and Twitter are used far more. As a testament to Facebook, just think about who you have as a friends. My friends range from former students, to high school buddies, to family, and business associates. Both my dad and my niece are my friends on Facebook and I watch them use Facebook like crazy. They run in totally different circles, communicate with totally different types of users, use Facebook in different ways, but we all are able to maintain a unified connection with each other.
To me Facebook has become the online catalogue for my relationships. Regardless of who you are there are enough people on Facebook to make it useful to almost everyone. It's a giant catalogue of pictures, postings, musings, comments, and the latest news from all of my friends. There is nothing else out there that has grasped the attention of such a wide audience, old grandpas and young girls alike.
For a long time now I've thought of Twitter as a kind of internet based utility. Kind of like the city water department, Twitter is not flashy, it doesn't have lots of features, but it's there all the time, and super useful. Twitter is the utility that manages the internet firehouse of timely updates and snippets for millions. It's most important use for me is its search functionality. Honestly I don't post a lot (shame on me), but I do get tremendous use from Twitter. When I go to conferences I use Twitter to see what others are doing, what sessions are popular, and who is skipping out and heading to Chipotle. When I am at a concert and want to see what others are thinking or seeing, I check Twitter. When the tornado hit Joplin and leveled a portion of the city, I looked to Twitter for updates from people who were in Joplin to make sure people were getting the help they needed. This informed me about which organization I should join in the rescue and cleanup efforts. Searching Twitter gives you live information about anything that others might have seen, experienced, or might have an opinion about.
Facebook and Twitter remain the largest and most influential social networks, but there is a rising third. Google+
Facebook = catalogue of pictures and updates about your friends, family, and close business friends
Twitter = a utility that provides live live live status and information on everything from anyone
Google+ = gives you the catalogue of activity that Facebook has, with some of the live action of Twitter, but focuses on audience. Google+ focuses on sharing with specific audiences and thus makes it more appropriate for professional use. A teacher can use Google+. Businesses can use Google+. There aren't "friends" in Google+ like there are in Facebook.
FACEBOOK you >--< friends
TWITTER you --> public
GOOGLE+ you <--> public, groups, friends, communities
I first drafted this post back in August 2011, but never hit the send button for some reason. Amazing how little I use Facebook now, how Twitter has sold out on some of its utility credibility, and how LinkedIn is starting to become a viable professional tool. Times have changed, but I'd say that I'm still pretty much on the money with my descriptions.