Talking tech since 2003

For years now, Internet users in search of direction have turned to Google to find content and answers online.  While this need to find information has done a great deal in boosting Google’s user-base in years past, 2010 has paved the way for a new trend; a trend in which Internet users know where they’re going and need no help in getting there.  Their destination?  Facebook.  You see, the social networking site that was once unheard of has been growing at exponential rates and has shown no signs of stopping.  In fact, Facebook received so much traffic in 2010 that it managed to surpass that of Google, who previously held the position of highest-visited site according to analytical group Experian Hitwise.

So why has Facebook been able to topple the Internet giant that is Google?  Facebook’s success, I believe, has been a direct result of the site’s expansion in 2010.  While Facebook was originally created and marketed as a “social network”, improvements to the site starting in the Spring season revamped the site to become more of a “portal” than anything else.  The implementation of “Community Pages” and the integration with online resource Wikipedia, for example, has allowed for information – one of the key components of Google’s success – to be readily available to users in a convenient location.  By fusing information and a social environment, Facebook has created an environment that has a purpose greater than simply socializing with friends – something that has given users justification to use the site.

In this same sense, Facebook has grasped social media to become something useful.  Gone are the days when “social networking” meant glittery graphics and over-customized user pages.  Social networking, by Facebook’s standards, has become more appealing to a wider variety of users.  You see, while MySpace was aimed towards younger generations, I’ve personally seen users of all age-groups take advantage of Facebook; from business users who take advantage of the site for making business connections to grandparents who keep in touch with their families, Facebook is used by just about everyone.  And with more people using Facebook, it makes sense that the site would do better than Google in rankings.

Another aspect one needs to consider is the new “like” system that allows users to like articles and posts by websites and blogs; a system that I think lead the way for Facebook to become a more dynamic environment.  Facebook has made it amazingly simple for users to share content with one-another, and has made it pain-free for users to keep up with issues, organizations, and topics that mean the most to them.  Between pages that I “like” and people who I am friends with on Facebook, the social news feed has allowed me – along with every other Facebook user – to have a centralized collaboration system all built on a social platform.  I’ve even gone so far as to eliminate my RSS client and feeds, because anything that I need or want to follow can be followed on Facebook, and I can find more interesting content by keeping up with friends.

Collaboration features such as the recently debuted groups and messaging features have made Facebook a promising productivity tool, and has followed Google’s successful strategy of becoming a “one-stop-shop” for Internet users, meaning that people are more inclined to visit Facebook because they have more and more purposes – and potentially a need for it.

As a company, Facebook employees seem to be very happy with the company and its open environment.  I feel that this business practice on the part of Facebook has allowed the company to create these innovations without the restrictions that one would typically see in a corporate environment.  This type of outside-of-the-box thinking is the type of action that creates solid and marketable products, and ultimately makes a site such as Facebook all the more competitive.  Not only do I think that Facebook can attribute a great deal of their success to this concept, but I feel that their future success will be riding on it at an equal level.

With all of the success that Facebook has been having, it’s absolutely logical for one to ask if Google is dying out.  The answer to this question is that Google has a long life ahead of it, and even though the site (arguably) hasn’t been as successful as Facebook, Google as a company hasn’t had negative affects either and as a company will likely be spewing out more and more innovations in years to come.  The fact of the matter is, however, that even though Google has been rumored to be working on a potential Facebook competitor, the company has had less than stunning success with both Buzz and Wave; the two products that appeared to be Google’s “in” to social networking.  If Google were to get a social network off the ground in the near future, I have no doubt in my mind that they could and would crumble Facebook.

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