A mere four to five year ago, social networking was something embraced only by college students and the younger generation. Jump to 2011, and we now have a landscape owned in a majority stake by Facebook with the formidable competitor of Google+. What we took for granted with Facebook for the past few years must now beg the million dollar question: what service is best for me?

I will admit up front that I am on the fence myself about what service I am going to dedicate more time towards. On the one hand, I’ve had a Facebook account for over five years now and have amassed both a bevy of friends and a digital portfolio of my personal life which is hard to walk away from. On the other hand, Google+ seems to have a fresh perception on social networking that is more appealing to some, including myself. I’ve been slowly growing the FireLogic Facebook page for a few months now to benefit my business, but am ever curious to see what Google+ could do for my company. You may be in just as much indecision as myself over both services.

For those just getting started

If you haven’t picked sides yet, or dipped your toes into the social networking landscape, then you will definitely have a lot easier time than the rest of us who have developed a deep underpinning on Facebook. There are lots of nuances and pros/cons that come with each service, and while Google+ is the newcomer to the game, I wouldn’t say it’s immaturity hurts it that much. But Facebook is still the 800 pound gorilla which just announced its new Timeline feature that seemingly takes the concept of archiving your life to a new level.

If you are impartial to each service, and can come into the playing field with an open mind, then you are best positioned to choose the service that will ultimately suit your needs. Each side of this fresh battle has its naysayers and fanboys that will stop at nothing to disseminate information that is not necessarily correct about the other. I’ve taken a deep look at each platform and will explain all the aspects that matter to the average user.

Transitioning from a Facebook lifestyle

For the rest of you who already have a deep investment in Facebook, allow yourself to re-evaluate whether you want to continue using it as your primary social networking website in light of Google+. I’m not here to sway anyone one way or another, but merely provide the facts as they are and let you make your own decision. I personally have my own preferred platform but won’t let bias get in the way of an objective look at these two powerful websites.

One thing that any embedded Facebook user must be asking is how to get the things off Facebook that you spent years collecting, sharing, and organizing? I’ve thought of this myself before, and considered it a dead end before the official solution was released late last year. Luckily, for those who may be considering a switch of platforms, Facebook offers a “Download Your Information” option under your Account Settings. The functionality is described in detail on this help article on Facebook’s support system. While I cannot say how clean a perfect transition would be between services, rest assured that your digital plethora of content is safely exportable from Facebook.

Facebook vs Google+: What I’ll be covering in the next week or so

Both services have many aspects which are comparable apples-to-apples, and some facets which are unique to each respective platform. In an attempt to provide this breakdown piece-meal, the other four parts of this five part series will attempt to delve into the aspects that matter most to the average user. Things like what makes up your “profile” on each service, how easy it is to find and manage your friends, and what extras are unique to each website that may be of interest to you. The choice of which service to use is difficult to answer, but hopefully after my in depth look, you will at least be able to make an informed decision without the spin from the fanboys.

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