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From the day that Google launched its social networking service Google+, it has been compared to Facebook. The story that is usually told, is that Google got alarmed by the success of Facebook and therefore tried  - and failed - to replicate this success with their own social networking platform. However, three years after the launch of Google+ it seems that the tables turned: Facebook is now following the strategy of Google+ (MIT).

UNBUNDLING FACEBOOK

In an interview with the New York Time last months, the Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that his company is now working on “unbundling” Facebook. By unbundling Zuckerberg means that Facebook will progressively transform from a service (website or app) that you visit to see and update a newsfeed of varied content, into a number of separate, more specialised services. This strategic move could be observed with the more recent acquisitions of Facebook, as Instagram works successfully as a separate service.

BECOMING A LOG IN SERVICE

In essence, Facebook is moving towards becoming a log-in service for a number of single purpose apps and services (e.g. Instagram, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc). In addition, it will provide the users a digital identity and some social connections, so that using and connecting in these services is facilitated.

This is very close to what Google+ is today. Although Google+ provides a newsfeed, profiles and social groups (circles), adoption rates suggest that this is not the main feature that people use Google+ for. It rather is used a profile to link and connect the various services inside Google’s product universe. From commenting and liking Youtube videos, to setting up Google hangouts; at the core of all services lies a Google+ profile.

BENEFITS & CHALLENGES

The benefits of this strategy to the end user are obvious. Google’s separated services work better together, and Facebook’s adoption of the strategy means that popular services, which have been acquired recently, will not be shut down. However, for tourism brands this presents a major challenge. Facebook is still the most popular social network among marketers, despite the continuous decrease in organic reach. If the network unbundles further though, marketers will loose a powerful content rich platform to engage with their customers, and rather need to acquire a niche strategy, by focussing on specific networks and services.

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