April 2012 Toolkit: Facebook vs. Google+

By Kerry Scott Premium

When Google+ (say “Google plus”) started making waves as the search giant’s answer to Facebook, many genealogists praised the new social network’s approach to privacy and groups. Others worried about time spent managing their activity on two sites. Should you stick with Facebook, jump ship to Google+ or use both? That depends on what you’re looking for in a social network. Our chart, taken from our Genealogist’s Guide to Google+ on-demand webinar, will help you see how the sites compare on major features.

To get started on Google+, you’ll need a Gmail account (create one here). Then go to Google+ and click Create an Account. Set up your basic profile by adding your name, gender, birth date and photo. If you want to join genealogy circles, make sure your profile says you’re a genealogist.
Service Facebook Google+
Quick Description Like a bar: All kinds of people with all kinds of interests mingling together in your news feed and on your wall. Like a genealogy conference: All your family history contacts congregate together in one “circle”—which stays separate from your circles for other activities and interests.
Purpose Designed for broad sharing with people from all parts of your life

Designed for focused sharing with people who have common interests
 Privacy  Less emphasis on privacy: You can control who sees what, though it’s not always easy. Facebook defaults to making your personal information, location and posts public. Read about both sites’ privacy settings here. Greater emphasis on privacy: Before posting your updates, you have to select which circles or people you want to share with. But you can’t prevent people from adding you to their feeds—and your updates still appear to people you’ve blocked from your own stream.
 Games  Games are everywhere. If you don’t want to get your friends’ Farmville requests or see their Mafia Wars conquests in your feed, you have to turn them off.  Games are separate. To play, you go to your Games page, which also includes a “stream” devoted specifically to game-related updates from your friends.

 Messaging  Private messages are separate from your
main feed.
 Private messages are integrated into your
main feed.
 Recommendations  Click the Like button.  Click the +1 button.

 Groups  Groups are in flux and require effort to build.  Circles happen immediately; you add new friends to a circle at the time of first contact.
 Who can join?  Individuals and businesses; most genealogy companies have an established presence.  Individuals and businesses; though many genealogy companies have not yet joined Google+.