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Can Better Privacy Help Google+ Take Down Facebook?

Many might say that if you’re not on Facebook, you’re out of the loop. With over 700 million users, it certainly takes the cake for social networking popularity—and ubiquity. But, Google wants a piece of the pie. They recently launched their new social network, Google+ and from what I’ve read about it, it’s everything you love about Facebook, minus everything you hate. Basic social interactions, networks, photos, messaging, and groups cover all the social features you could ever hope for. But one thing Google has added clearly spent time on are the hard locked privacy settings, allowing you to segment your contacts into “Circles” and decide what you want to share with eachCircle. That means no more hiding party photos because someone from work might see them… you can just keep those photos out of the “Work Circle.”

Based on early feedback, it seems like “Circles” is the killer Google+ feature—because if Facebook’s repeated challenges tell us anything, people want privacy in their social networks. Google’s VP of Engineering says “not all relationships are created equal,” and this sort of thinking underscores the entire Plus service. It’s an interesting rethinking of social media, that’s for sure.

This emphasis on privacy reminds me of an important cornerstone of how Communispace uncovers insights—by cultivating intimacy. Though there’s certainly a world of difference between us and Plus, the fact of the matter is that people often feel more comfortable sharing information, ideas, aspirations, and well, really, themselves, when they feel secure in knowing exactly who they’re sharing and connecting with. A sense of privacy can spring from intimacy. Many of the foundations of how we build social networks revolve around intimacy: the fact that the sweet spot for community vibrancy and richness is an intimate 300-500 members, for instance. That’s why we so heavily stress building a sense of intimacy in communities—through activities and interactions—to maximize participation.

So what do you think? Will the focus on privacy—and consequently, an increased sense of intimacy—that Google+ offers translate into increased participation? And more importantly, will it foster enough participation to help Google gain ground on Facebook on the social front?

Communispace’s free whitepaper, The “64% Rule”: What Real Customer Engagement Looks Like, shows why factors like community size impact participation on brand-sponsored social networks and explores how to generate the most contributions and greatest ROI from online communities. Download and share it today.

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