Interestingly, these two somewhat opposite approaches also represent the dilemma facing companies about the impact of social media on their long term business strategy.
The questions being asked in the board rooms of many companies include:
1. Does winning on social media mean brands have to embrace a completely open and transparent communication approach?
2. And is that open communication style something that can work for companies across industries and stages of development?
For all their features, the competition between Google and Facebook for social media dominance can be distilled down to a fundamental question about the functioning of social networks:
Should sharing be limited by default or by exception?
Facebook has built its business by forcing us all to share the things we want to with everyone in our friends circle. Until recently, that was the only option any user or company had.
It was at transparent and open mindset -- one which dominates the social media universe.
At the other end of the spectrum is G+ which starts your social media experience with the creation of circles -- groups of people who you foresee wanting to share the same subsets of content with.
In response to the circles features of G+, Facebook has also create similar functionality but its by no means the default way of operating on Facebook and they don't' make it that easy to restrict your sharing to specific groups.
The Challenge For Companies
Companies are struggling to decide if social is a new channel or new way of doing business.
The difference couldn't be more fundamental.
One requires companies to leverage the same skills they use when undertaking a new channel partnership or entering a new country. The other requires a fundamental DNA shift to a more open and responsive external outlook. And with it the acceptance of more risk to the brand by opening it up to the social sphere.
The jury is still out
Will every company eventually be forced to transform itself or will the new social way allow for partial participation -- much as the internet has?
Google + may have a lot to say about that -- by giving companies a viable option which is more accessible to their way of doing things. And by doing that, Google may have found its entry point into the social compeitition-- into a segment which it already has a significant relationship with -- businesses.