Is Google+ challenging Facebook's social networking dominance?
Eh, not so much. Or perhaps, "not yet" would be more optimistic. In spite of the fact that Facebook somehow only managed to make its privacy settings and lists more transparent immediately after the popularity launch of Google+, Facebook still reigns supreme in the social networking market share. Google+ may boast 43 million users in three short months, but more users are still logging in to Facebook.
Silicon Alley Insider's Chart of the Day shows that Facebook captures not only the attention of those looking to network online but of all online activities: a stunning 16% of Americans' online time is now spent on Facebook and Facebook alone.
To be fair, it took Facebook a while to reach a mere 100 million users in 2008, and the monolithic site has been adding users at the rate of about 50 million every three months, so by the measure of adoption rates, Google+ and Facebook are actually neck and neck.
But let's face it; Facebook had a head start. Google+ is slowly rolling out features, but at this rate, it will be a while before the circle-and-stream-oriented site becomes the life repository that Facebook has become. The Facebook wall still has a lot over Google+ as a home for photo albums, favorite media, games, applications, events and of course the ubiquitous life stream.
The differentiating factor: content sharing versus IRL sharing
What Google hasn't yet addressed is that Facebook allows users to share more than online content; it anticipates real-life meetings and facilitates sharing of all aspects of the user's life. As a social media geek, Facebook's events functions are some of the most valuable on the site, allowing me to invite all my local friends to a dine out for No Kid Hungry or to RSVP for a Social Media Club event and post photos of the IRL interactions with my favorite social media friends. Facebook facilitates real life connections, not just online content sharing. In fact, a National Survey of Student Engagement recently discovered a correlation between students who used Facebook to RSVP to events and higher grades and campus engagement.
Google+ doesn't yet interweave real-life events, brands and communities into the stream. When it does, Zuckerberg should stand up and take notice.