Why Facebook is beating Google: 2 personal reflections
A number of outlets, including CNBC, covered the news that for at least a one week period, Facebook bested Google by a razor slim margin among U.S. Internet users. The reason was simple: people are more interested in connecting with other people than in searching. As CNBC described it:
In a sign that the web is becoming more sociable than searchable, research firm Hitwise said that the two sites accounted for 14 percent of all US internet visits last week. Facebook’s home page recorded 7.07 percent of traffic and Google’s 7.03 percent.
I'm not surprised by this, given the tribal nature of all of the non-traditional media sites and the number of people I never would have expected to use them who are listed in my inbox every day asking me to connect with them. There has definitely been a subtle shift in the way many people are using these new tools and channels. The shift is weighted on the side of building connections, renewing connections and sharing personal information rather than finding out the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? -- African or European (with a nod to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail").
Earlier this week, I attended a funeral of a well loved colleague whose untimely death led to tributes in the local newspaper and in numerous blogs, including our own. The most touching tribute was from his wife, who used her husband's Facebook account to reach out to all of his friends. She commented in her posting and when I met her personally that he would have loved the fact that she was now doing what came very naturally to him -- reaching out to people personally and through technology. Facebook was a fitting place for that memorial and everyone who has "friended" this man was reached in a very personal way and saw a wonderful picture of him and his wife along with her memories of him. It's as close as you get to the face-to-face connections with others that are so important and so precious. This was another takeaway from the recent funeral I attended -- the comment in his eulogy that he gave everyone his complete attention when you met with him and was not looking down at his Blackberry or iPhone or checking his email on his laptop.
In this continued search for connection and belonging, the tools that bring people closer together in a meaningful way are going to win, in my humble opinion Psychologically, having the word "face" in its name is probably helping Facebook. Certainly the idea of "friends" and "friending" makes this online connection seem the most intimate and therefore worthy of more attention. I'd rather "friend" than "Google," wouldn't you? Of course the ability of Facebook to be useful to marketers will be the ultimate determinant of success, but if the numbers keep proving that's where the crowds are spending the most time, the marketing dollars are sure to follow.