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Facebook Takes The Google Route. Will It Work?

Looks to face competition with increased acquisitions

Facebook is the king of the hill when it comes to social networks, but it faces growing competition from a couple of old foes. Google is rampantly trying to play catch up in the social networking space, while Twitter seems to have a new-found motivation for improvement. There is news out about Facebook’s strategy (which interestingly enough is reminiscent of Google’s overall strategy for the last decade: acquisitions, acquisitions, acquisitions.

Acquisitions

A new report out from Bloomberg says that Facebook is planning to make about 20 acquisitions this year, which would be twice as many as last year. This isn’t a rumor. It’s straight from Facebook’s director of corporate development Vaughan Smith.

The company has already made 13 acquisitions this year, according to Bloomberg. These include: Mac app maker Sofa, mobile app creator Snaptu, group chat company Beluga, mobile ad company Rel8tion, and iPad app maker Push Pop Press. Such acquisitions are line with Facebook’s plans to focus on design and mobile, as Smith indicated in the report.

Beyond Acquisitions

There is a lot more to maintaining a solid user experience and keeping people engaged than just piling on the acquisitions. It’s what is done with the acquisitions, and what features are added (or kept or removed) that keep people around. It’s also partnerships and the developer ecosystem that make things interesting, fun or worthwhile.

This week, Miramax announced a new Facebook app that could very well pave the way for the future of movie-based entertainment on the social network. Other movie studios have experimented with Facebook movie rental, but Miramax, working directly with Facebook itself has come up with a whole new concept for this, including plans for purchasing and digital storage.

Facebook is also expected to get more music-oriented with the help of a handful of partners. The recent U.S. launch of the popular Spotify may play a critical role in that.

While Facebook faces plenty of obstacles on the competition front, it’s also facing others on the legal front. And I’m not talking about the Winklevii or Paul Ceglia. The “like” button has essentially been outlawed in Germany. But that’s a whole other story.

The Google Threat

A couple months back, Google unveiled what might turn out to be Facebook’s biggest rival to its core business of social networking. Though there have been reports of slowing growth, initial growth of the service has been huge compared to rivals Facebook and Twitter for the amount of time it’s been out, and it’s still in invitation-only mode. But yeah, yeah, yeah…we’ve talked about all of this plenty of times before.

What we haven’t talked about quite as much is Google’s launch of games for Google+. Games keep a large amount of Facebook’s users engaged, and there’s no reason not to assume they will have a similar effect on Google+ users as well – especially considering that Google+ has the popular Angry Birds, and a handful of games from Zynga – the maker of some of the most popular titles on Facebook.

You also have to keep in mind that Google’s only going to keep integrating facets of Google+ with other Facets of the overall Google experience, which has a whole lot more users than Google+ itself. For example, Google+ posts are coming to Gmail.

Google also started adding Google+ posts to Google search results. On top of that, Google profiles (the backbone of any user’s Google+ account) are only going to continue to be more visible in the search results. Think about how many people use Google search. Google is pushing its authorship markup to webmasters and content producers (a future ranking signal, by the way). When this is used, authors of content show up with little images in the search results that stand out. When these are clicked, they go to that author’s Google profile. Expect to see more and more of these as more people adopt this markup.

About the Author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237 Google: +Chris Crum