It's week three in the battle of the social networks with newly energized upstart (speaking strictly just for social, of course) Google + facing off against Facebook.
Make no mistake, with 750 million users to its name Facebook isn't going anywhere. But it no doubt must be chagrined to watch Google +'s traction: 10 million users have created profiles and are sharing 1 billion items per day, according to CEO Larry Page. If that weren't bad enough, it is watching companies and news organizations set up pages on Google +, even before the corporate account program officially launches.
Ford Motor Co., for instance, has been active on the site, to the reluctant admiration of Google (which has also threatened to take down these early unofficial adopters) according to Ad Age - and the response has been overwhelming.
"They're doing to some incredibly cool stuff like the "hangout" they're doing this afternoon with their customers," Christian Oestlien, the lead product manager for social advertising at Google told Ad Age recently. "It's the kind of stuff we're looking to test."
Perhaps most ignominious of all, Facebook yanked an ad placed by app developer Michael Lee Johnson that publicized his own Google+ profile - a move that prompted far more ridicule (not to mention publicity for Johnson) than if it had just quietly let it be.
Lowest Ranking of Them All
Now the weapon du jour to beat up Facebook is the latest 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Business Report, a widely-watched ranking of how well various firms are perceived to deliver good customer service. It is produced with analytics firm ForeSee Results.
The results of the survey are not good for Facebook. Despite a small improvement this year of 3%, at 66 Facebook is the lowest-scoring site, not only in the social media category, but of all measured companies in the report.
The survey was conducted way before the world heard of Google +, but, still, the dots waiting to be connected are so obvious, says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee.
In short, the 750 million Facebook users could be easy pickings for Google + if it is offering better service, better features and some straightforward privacy promises, he says.
In one way the timing of the report is beneficial to Facebook: people are beginning to focus on Twitter as another likely - perhaps more likely - candidate for Google + victim.
There are a lot of reasons to think this will be the case. One, the type of activity, for now, on Google + is more akin to Twitter than what you see on Facebook. Also, for many people Twitter has become unmanageable, says Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group. "I think following 300 people is the best most can manage. After that, stuff just gets lost." Now people have to weed through a lot of junk to find what they are looking for on Twitter and the site's search function is not the greatest. Google + has the advantage of being new and having fewer users posting real content instead of Twitter spam.
The ASCI, for the record, didn't measure Twitter mainly because there are so many different ways to access the site, Freed says.