These days, it seems that everyone is talking about Facebook as if it’s the second coming of Google. Now, while there is good reason to get yourself involved with Facebook, I don’t believe that Facebook will become the new Google (i.e. replace it as the pre-eminent search engine the way Google did to Yahoo! and Alta Vista).
Two Fundamentally Different Kinds of Sites
Facebook is not Google; the two websites, while both extremely popular are also quite different. Google allows people to search through the web at large, checking to see what people from almost anywhere have written, including material such as this article. Facebook by contrast allows people to search through what ordinary people may have said along with a limited amount of commercial material.
The commercial content on Facebook, while growing daily is still somewhat limited since Facebook (by design) has refused to allow the same kinds of freedom to promulgate commercial information that Google allows, given the fact that it works on the web at large. That said, having a presence on Facebook is just as important as having a presence on the web at large precisely because it is a closed system.
What is a Closed System as Opposed to an Open System?
Probably the biggest difference between Google and Facebook is this: Facebook is, for all that it’s popular a closed system. Think of it as being kind of like the difference between the iTunes app store and the Google Android app store. Android allows anyone who cares to do so to write and sell apps while iTunes controls everything that appears on their web site and may choose not to carry an app.
What this means effectively is that while you can write whatever you want and have it appear on Google, you cannot necessarily write whatever you want and have it appear on Facebook. To appear on Facebook, you must follow their guidelines or risk being removed. And while Facebook does allow a fairly broad approach to what’s allowed, it ultimately can never be as freewheeling as a Google search.
Okay, so much for the differences. Now let’s talk similarities. Both Google and Facebook dominate their respective areas and neither of them was the first one to come up with their respective concepts. Alta Vista was the first popular web search engine, followed by Yahoo! which was then superseded by Google. Similarly, Facebook came after MySpace which came after Friendster.
That and the fact that both of them allow you to search for information is pretty much where the similarities end. The two web sites were developed for fundamentally different purposes and referring to Facebook as the next Google is like referring to the iPad as the next great cell phone. Sure they share many things in common, though they are still intended for fundamentally different purposes.
The bottom line, at least as I see it: Facebook and Google are both here to stay for the time being. You ignore one or both of them at the peril of losing a significant number of potential customers. Therefore, I’m going to say that you should continue to create web sites optimized for Google while at the same creating a strong social media presence on Facebook as well.