In a move that arguably defines the axiom that “contempt breeds familiarity,” Google has announced that it will offer a commenting system to third-party websites that is similar to that of Facebook.
Facebook’s commenting system, which is already available to websites, allows users to make comments on the site’s content via their Facebook accounts and/or that are publishable to accounts, and is usually found at the bottom of the page below the content. The Google+ system, which is presumed to be a virtual carbon copy that will connect comments back to Google+ profiles in the same way, will compete for this space.
The motivation is simple: if a website decides to use Facebook plugins it will naturally be more integrated with Facebook and the social-media giant’s nearly 800 million users. This obviously interferes with Google’s Internet land grab and so competition for this comment space on third-party websites was a foregone conclusion.
Even so, analysts predict many website operators will be reluctant to switch from Facebook’s pltaform to the Google+ alternative, and not just because Google+ fails to compete in terms of numbers of users. Those who switch over may find that their comment histories are lost and confuse users who are used to (and likely want) the Facebook tie-in.
Of course, attracting more users is also a driver of Google’s gambit in the website commenting realm. If more people are talking about content through Google+, the assumption is that more people will be drawn into using the new social-media platform. Both experts and lay critics, however, believe this is an unlikely scenario and that Google’s efforts amount to little more than another Johnny-come-lately moment in its attempt to square off with the king of social media.
Google hopes new additions to commenting capability will help it edge out its Web nemesis, like the indexing of comments in Google Search to even further amplify and personalize its search platform for users, but there are no guarantees this will help convince website operators of its superiority. In fact, some may argue Google’s growing publicity problems over privacy concerns may make this a nonstarter.
While Google remains the master of search, the court of public opinion still favors Facebook when it comes to social media, and that blessing would appear to extend to third-party commenting initiatives. Only time will tell if Google’s new strategy will help draw more people to the Google+ well.
Photo by John Marino