I was over at CopyBlogger reading quite an interesting blog post, which seemed to imply that Facebook actually has a chance to dominate Google by “changing the whole game” as far as Google is concerned. Read that blog post first before moving down.
Do you think Facebook can dominate Google?
If you replied “No”, you and I think along the same lines.
Facebook is a social networking website which has recently seen tremendous success. I understand that “everyone and their grandmother” is on Facebook, but this does not change the fact that Facebook is nothing like Google.
Simply put, these two websites operate use different models to operate and generate revenues.
I feel that comparing Facebook and Google is like comparing small apples with big oranges.
Here are 3 reasons why you can safely assume that Facebook is not the Google-killer:
1. They use different business models: Facebook is a social networking website, which focuses on bringing individuals together. It is not a search engine, neither does it claim to be one.
Facebook’s mass appeal is simple to understand: Everyone can connect with everyone else and figure out what they are upto (and even stalk them), without going through a lot of hassle.
Google, on the other hand, is very different. Google is a search engine, which also offers many other unique services. Google’s business model is based on a simple idea: Provide the users with relevant, accurate content as quickly as possible.
The result? Different markets and different business models, which minimizes competition.
Will you ever go to Facebook to search for “Dentists in California”? Didn’t think so.
Along the same lines, will you use Google to see what your best friend, Ryan is upto these days? Nope!
2. They are horribly different in size: Facebook has around 400 million “active” users currently. By active, we mean users who talk to each other, share pictures and post videos among other things. Active does not mean buying users.
Now, 400 million might seem to be a very good number (and it really is), but compare it to Google and it is not that impressive anymore.
Google controls 75% of the global search market. A good percentage of Google’s users are actually buyers, which causes an even greater disparity between the 2 websites.
Facebook only operates mainly in one market: Social media and Web 2.0.
Google operates in the search market, but also has many innovative services such as Gmail, Google Wave, Google Reader, Google Docs, Google Analytics etc. This gives the leading search engine a huge edge over its competitors.
Does Facebook have any similar features? No, because these features do not go in line with its business model.
3. Both operate in hugely different ways: As if the two websites were not different enough, in some ways, they are quite the opposite.
Facebook blocks users’ pages from public indexation i.e. most of the users’ pages are not in the indexes of search engines. This practice is actually quite prudent; it gives Facebook an edge because you cannot really find out other users’ info if you did not join Facebook.
Google on the other hand gains value through indexing webpages. This practice is so important for Google that if their crawlers were stopped from indexing content, Google would quickly lose a lot of business.
How can you expect Facebook, which blocks all its content, to replace Google, whose job is to index content?
4. Both generate different kinds of traffic: Facebook traffic mainly relates to people who are there to participate in conversations. Most Facebook users will never buy anything worthwhile for a long time, simply because that is not why they are there.
It does not matter how colorful Facebook ads look, the users simply will not buy. I have spent enough money on Facebook to know that direct marketing and Facebook do not go together.
Sure, the users will click on your Ad if you make it compelling enough, but that click will be more related to “being curious” than to fulfilling a crucial need. Facebook traffic converts at horrible percentages. Period.
On the other hand, Google traffic is a lot more targeted and Google is known to have very effective ads. Users on Google are actually looks to buy.
5. Social media will not replace regular search: Social media is here to stay.
But suggesting that it is the “new” search is a bit too far fetched.
Search will always been there as long as people need to find specific information in minimal time. Do you think you can use social media to find out where the nearest Pizza Hut is? I doubt it.
People who suggest Facebook will replace Google seem to believe that social media is THE future. I disagree with that statement.
Social media and traditional search fulfill different purposes and both need to be available in order to provide a better web experience.
In conclusion, Facebook and Google operate in different markets and suggesting that Facebook can compete with Google is very far-fetched.
Do you have any comments or suggestions? Let us know!