How will the Larger Players Fare?
For the larger social networking services, the arrival of Google+ is not without impact. Sites with a niche audience, such as LinkedIn, may ride out the changes relatively unscathed; they had already differentiated themselves from sites like Facebook by targeting a specific audience with a specific purpose in mind, and have a loyal and sizable group of users in the space. Twitter will be a very interesting case to follow; already struggling to find a sustainable revenue model, the service has held its own against Facebook but may turn out to be the victim as users tire of maintaining content in multiple areas. The fact that Twitter, which is very popular as a marketing tool, and the professionally focused LinkedIn have succeeded in the era of Facebook also suggests that the line between business and personal use may become more clearly defined as we move forward.
Nonetheless Google+ certainly seems poised, at least at this early stage, to become a serious rival to Facebook. Ironically, the 750 million+ user base on Facebook is turning out to be an extremely effective viral marketing tool for spreading the word on its new rival and sharing invites. Plus certainly offers control sharing options and advanced features designed to address known dissatisfactions with Facebook, and early adopters have responded very positively to this.. However, some of the big issues remain. Plus's terms of service offer no particular added value to those users who disagree with Facebook's use of personal data: essentially the same claim to content that is posted using the service exists (6), and Google has its own red flags in this area stemming from the Buzz and Streetview launches.
If Google+ fails in its key measure of success - winning over a critical mass of users from Facebook - the two sites may have to find a way to exist side-by-side. People looking to make the leap to Plus but with a core group of friends who won't leave Facebook will face a choice between abandoning the close contact they currently enjoy with those friends, and maintaining a presence on both sides. Tools allowing users to update both Google+ streams and Facebook feeds simultaneously, like many that currently exist for Facebook and Twitter, would be a key part in this environment.