Google and Facebook Trade Targets

Given the success of The Social Network, there’s surely a follow-up to be made that involves other major tech companies. If that happens, this week will be the scene where two very different characters trade positions… “with hilarious consequences.”

Facebook has launched a website dedicated to helping businesses make the most use of its network. And at the same time, Google is preparing to launch social gaming on Google+.

While the Facebook move doesn’t actually change the services it has on offer, the company is trying to make it easier to understand how to use the site to promote a business, explaining the difference between profiles and pages, and between “friending” and “liking”.

There’s also a clearer explanation of a feature I wasn’t all that familiar with before named Sponsored Stories. It’s a mix of traditional advertising and viral marketing: companies pay to appear a set number of times in a special column on the right-hand side of the page, but rather than this appearance being a marketing message, it’s instead a listing of a specific interaction the user’s friend has carried out with the company such as liking a page or using an application. The “ad” only appears for user’s who’d normally see the interaction listed in their news feed anyway, so it should be simple to opt out.

Meanwhile Google is reported to be working on games within Google+ which, as with those on Facebook, will be heavily based around co-operating or competing with fellow members. (There won’t be any Farmville though: developers Zynga look to have signed an exclusive deal with Facebook.)

To try to win business with game developers, Google is offering a couple of benefits. Firstly, it will host and run the games on its own servers, cutting the costs to developers. Secondly, it will reportedly undercut the 30 percent share that Facebook is believed to take from game revenues.

So I guess a lot of people will be creating a new circle marked “Annoying People Who Flood My Feed With Game Crap.”