Google+ vs Facebook

Computerworld – With its still-in-limited-field-test social network Google+, Google looks poised to challenge Facebook head-on in the increasingly important social media space. Some analysts give the edge to Facebook with its large head start — the company claims more than half a billion active users worldwide, half of whom log onto the site each day. Other pundits point to Google‘s large number of users across multiple products along with its engineering prowess as factors making it a formidable challenger.

How do the companies stack up head to head? Here’s a look at some of the available statistics.

Users

Google has a clear edge globally, according to ComScore Data Mine: Google reached a billion unique visitors worldwide in May, while Facebook rang in at 713.6 million.

Google’s lead is narrower in the U.S., where it had 155 million unique visitors from desktop and laptop computers in May compared with Facebook’s 140 million, the Nielsen Company reported. The Nielsen survey does not include mobile devices.

Facebook had a huge lead in time spent per person: more than 6 hours vs. an hour and 20 minutes.

However, Facebook users have been fairly unhappy with the social media site. Last year, it scored “in the bottom 5% of all measured private sector companies and in the same range as airlines and cable companies, two perennially low-scoring industries with terrible customer satisfaction,” according to the July 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business Report. Google’s score of 80 (out of 100) was substantially higher than Facebook’s 64. New data should be coming out sometime this month.

Bottom line: Google is still the Internet’s leading brand in terms of number of users. Facebook has an enormous base of regular users who spend a considerable amount of time on its site — much more time than on Google. However, Facebook’s users were not particularly happy with their experience last year. It will be interesting to see whether Facebook’s customer satisfaction scores come in higher in this year’s ACSI.

Revenues

Google’s revenues are fairly straightforward, since as a public company it must report such data each quarter. Facebook’s are less clear, since it is still privately held. According to one estimate reported by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook had $1.86 billion in ad revenue last year and should top $4 billion this year. Google reported $29.3 billion in overall revenues last year (not just from ads).

Online ad market share

Source: eMarketer

eMarketer estimates that Google had 38.5% of the online advertising market last year vs. 4.6% for Facebook. The research firm estimates that Facebook’s share will grow to 7% this year compared with 40.8% for Google.

Bottom line: Google is considerably larger than Facebook in revenue and still growing, but Facebook looks to be expanding much faster.

Employees

This is a particularly tough metric, as Facebook doesn’t release that data. The latest estimate, from an in-depth profile of chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg in the current issue of The New Yorker, came in at 2,500 employees. That’s close to double the estimates reported for early 2010. Google reported 24,400 employees at the end of last year, up from 19,835 in 2009.

Bottom line: As with revenue, Google’s employee count is substantially higher than Facebook’s, but Facebook appears to be growing more rapidly.

Conclusion

Many other factors will come into play to determine whether Google+ can successfully challenge Facebook in the social media arena, including the appeal of the new service and whether people are willing to leave an established network where they already have numerous connections.

Google is well positioned as an Internet brand with better customer satisfaction than Facebook, and is a larger company with more internal resources. However, Facebook is a high-growth company that’s likely on the verge of a public stock offering, meaning it has access both to a great deal of investor cash and top-flight employees hoping to cash in on that growth.

The most likely winner? Social media users, who will benefit from two strong companies battling to improve their products to either keep or win over customers.

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Facebook IPO Targets 100 Billion!

Numbers soared to surprising heights when LinkedIn went public, so naturally rumor has it Facebook (news, site) is is preparing itself for an IPO that could surpass US $100 billion.

The report comes to us via CNBC, which says the IPO is likely to happen during the first quarter of 2012. This date makes sense, as it falls in line with the company’s deadline for reporting its financial information, regardless of whether it’s private or public at the time.

Some perspective: should Facebook’s IPO meet expectations, it would be one of the largest in history, quadrupling Google’s US $23 billion IPO in 2004.

Whether or not this is as good of a thing as it sounds like for Goldman Sachs, the network’s main investor, remains to be seen. While certainly still a giant, Facebook’s growth has reportedly begun to slow.

According to the latest report from Inside Facebook, the network’s membership growth was 11.8 million in May and 13.9 million in April. And while that might not seem like a deal breaking difference, it does serve to highlight a couple of particularly unsettling numbers: Facebook lost roughly 6 million US users in May and another 1.5 million users in Canada during the same time period.

Still, Facebook’s international popularity is becoming increasingly significant, as the network gained 1 million users from locations such as Mexico, India, Brazil, Indonesia and the Philippines.

What do you think of the reported IPO numbers, and what aspects of the impending mania give cause for concern? Let us know in the comments below.

Facebook IPO Targets 100 Billion Despite Slowing Growth.

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Report: Facebook users more trusting, engaged!

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook, it turns out, isn’t just a waste of time. People who use it have more close friends, get more social support and report being more politically engaged than those who don’t, according to a new national study on Americans and social networks.

The report comes as Facebook, Twitter and even the buttoned-up, career-oriented LinkedIn continue to ingrain themselves in our daily lives and change the way we interact with friends, co-workers and long-lost high school buddies.

Released Thursday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the report also found that Facebook users are more trusting than their non-networked counterparts.

When accounting for all other factors – such as age, education level or race – Facebook users were 43 percent more likely than other Internet users to say that “most people can be trusted.” Compared with people who don’t use the Internet at all, Facebook users were three times more trusting.

The reason for this is not entirely clear. One possible explanation: People on social networks are more willing to trust others because they interact with a larger number of people in a more diverse setting, said Keith Hampton, the main author of the study and a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

When all else is equal, people who use Facebook also have 9 percent more close ties in their overall social network than other Internet users. This backs an earlier report from Pew that, contrary to studies done earlier in the decade, the Internet is not linked to social isolation. Rather, it can lead to larger, more diverse social networks.

Social-networking users also scored high in political engagement. Because LinkedIn users (older, male and more educated) fall into a demographic category that’s more politically active than the general population, they were most likely to vote or attend political rallies. But after adjusting for those characteristics, Facebook users, especially those who use the site multiple times a day, turned out to be more politically involved than those who don’t use it.

Overall, the average American has a little more than two close confidants, 2.16 to be exact, according to the report. This is up from an average of 1.93 close ties that Americans reported having in 2008. There are also fewer lonely people: 9 percent of respondents said they had no one with whom they could discuss important matters. That’s down from 12 percent in 2008.

The report didn’t try to dig into cause and effect, so it’s not clear whether the widening use of social networks is causing less loneliness. But it did find that people who use the Internet are less socially isolated than those who don’t. Those on social networks, even less so – just 5 percent said they had no one to talk to about important stuff.

The researchers also got numbers to back up what’s in the mind of many Facebook users past a certain age: Yes, all your old high school classmates really are coming out of the woodwork and “friending” you. The average Facebook user has 56 friends on the site from high school. That’s far more than any other social group, including extended family, co-workers or college classmates.

Facebook’s settings let users add the high school they attended to their profile, along with the year they graduated. Other users can then search for their classmates and add them as friends for a virtual reunion.

“It’s really reshaping how people maintain their networks,” Hampton said.

In the past, when people went to college or got jobs and moved away from their home towns, they left those relationships behind, too. This was especially true in the 1960s, when women not in the work force would move to the suburbs with their husbands and face a great deal of isolation, Hampton said.

Now, with social networks, these ties are persistent.

“Persistent and pervasive,” Hampton said. “They stay with you forever.”

The survey was conducted among 2,255 adults from Oct. 20 to Nov. 28, 2010. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points for the full sample.

Online: Pew Internet

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