Facebook and Google to Launch Atomic Battle For The Stream

by Vinny Tafuro on Oct 21, 2011
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Going to WarThe recent beta release of Facebook Timeline for personal profiles has the Internet buzzing with wonder at the thought of new branding possibilities.

Zeny Huang of JWT New York writes in Why Facebook Timeline Will Be Huge for Brands.

“The “Cover,” an 849 by 312 pixel image spanning the top of your profile, can be changed at any time and is major real estate for a brand — perfect for a product shot or promotion push.”

While this visual real estate is valuable for brands, that won’t be Facebook’s focus for business pages.

Timelines Are Pretty But Not For Business

Timelines will be most valuable for people and public figures and less so for brands. A TechCrunch guest article The Timelines Facebook Doesn’t Have by Jim Pitkow and Adrian Aoun, provides some really interesting insights into where Timeline could provide real value.

“Studies show that people increasingly just scan headlines to keep up to date, and only occasionally read articles to get more depth. They prefer the atomization of content — smaller bites of useful information. If we decompose today’s headlines and articles to see “What’s Happening?” we get down to the building blocks — the events, details, opinions, interactions, analysis, context, and discussions that matter. This decomposition organizes everything for faster consumption and unparalleled visualizations and analysis. Thus, we believe that news will be more easily consumed via timelines arranged by actors and verbs.”

Where Is Facebook Going?

Facebook is in a war with Google over data organization, analysis and delivery and plans to fight hard. Taking cues from Google’s focus on user trust and “do no evil” motto, Facebook is rethinking how it treats its user base.  After all, user data is Facebook’s most valuable asset and it must protect its relationship with users.

What I have stated previously and do not see changing is Facebook’s almost contempt for small businesses and the “free” pages they manage.

“How long before Facebook changes the rules enough to cause abandonment by small business, allowing Facebook to give these fans to the highest corporate bidder?”

I can see a news feed block on Friday afternoons that reads “Happy Hour in Tampa” sponsored by “Large Corporate Advertiser” with a much smaller “Click here for more” link to drill down and reveal non-paid small business pages in the same areas that are mentioning happy hour in status updates.

Time to drop the social media expert and hire a media buyer.

Atomization of  the Stream

If you are not familiar with atomization of content, watch this December 2009 Fireside Chat with Marissa Mayer, Vice President, at Google and Michael Arrington, Editor, TechCrunch. At 12:00 minutes Marissa gives a breakdown of what the atomic unit of consumption is and how it changes.

Google Chooses the Battlefield

Google makes decisions on data and facts; the releases of Orkut, Wave and Buzz prior to Google+ illustrate just how well they plan, execute, evaluate and adapt as they develop a product over time.

Marissa’s theories are not yet two years old but likely were part of Google’s philosophy long before that. Considering how much has in fact come come to fruition, those theories are almost certainly now driving many of Google’s decisions.

In July PCWorld provided great arguments for Why Google+ Business Profiles Will Trump Facebook Pages, and Google’s acquisition of Zagat in September not only explains Google’s delays in business page release on Google+ but also sends a serious warning shot to Facebook that they are playing hardball when they do finally show up.

“So, today, I’m thrilled that Google has acquired Zagat. Moving forward, Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering—delighting people with their impressive array of reviews, ratings and insights, while enabling people everywhere to find extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences around the corner and around the world.

With Zagat, we gain a world-class team that has more experience in consumer based-surveys, recommendations and reviews than anyone else in the industry.”

The statement above was posted by Marissa who, along with being a VP and one of Google’s first 20 employees, now heads up Local Products and was head of Search for a decade. If you watched the entire Fireside Chat above, you will see just how brilliant she is and just how long Google has been working on this.

Battlefield Stream

The August announcement that Facebook would begin eliminating the “Places” check-in feature, combined with the September beta release of Timeline, illustrates how Facebook is trimming down on small business functionality while bulking up on stream optimization to increase user interactions.

  • Facebook has the the larger user base, but users are required to have an account and log in.
  • Google has Gmail, Places, Maps, YouTube, Motorola and now Zagat. Not to mention they still have the number-one search engine with an estimated 3 billion searches per day.

Which is Mission Ready?

Google will be able to combine the data and variety of touch points in a such a way that will be difficult to compete with.

“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

To compete, Facebook absolutely must improve the news stream that users see and improve their currently anemic search capabilities.

“Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

Facebook is boldly entering new territory where Google has a definitive home field advantage.



Image source: Shutterstock.com


Post Author

Vinny Tafuro is the president of Tafuro Communications, servicing a select client base of businesses, non-profits and political candidates/issues. Vinny is active within the community and his industry. He is a past chairman of Ad 2 National, the American Advertising Federation’s...