Monday, February 13th, 2012

Will Google+ Trump Facebook with Digital Intimacy

If Dunbar’s number of 150 represents a theoretical limit to the amount of stable social relationships one person can manage, then who are these other 850 friends attached to my Facebook account?

It is pretty clear that the initial appeal to Facebook for advertisers was the sheer volume of “eyeballs” or in other words its reach, scale, and frequency. However, a shift is occurring due to a recent and small, yet important new feature: Users now have the ability to create “lists” and to select what story on their newsfeed is “important”. We can quite literally segment our friends and elevate the prominent stories that captivate our interest. With each click, the algorithm gets smarter, so the net effect is increased relevancy of future content published by your “150”.

The ability to segment your friends was included in the initial launch of Google+ as a point of differentiation, and portrayed in the recent Samsung Circles commercial, which highlights digital intimacy. Digital intimacy is the idea that we desire to share a limited set of information to a select and small group of people online. That theory aligns well with Google+’s positioning and may give it an edge on Facebook.

As Google+ and Facebook battle it out, expect to see this continued tug-of-war between digital openness and digital intimacy. The “lists” feature and “circles” represent a serving up of key advocacy identification – with users defining who and what resonates with them along their personal chain of influence. What this means for advertisers and brands is that Facebook and Google have the opportunity to deliver even more precise data on your target audience because they can measure influence and engagement.

By Donald Ball

Follow Don on Twitter @DonaldJBall

Originally published at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network

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