Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Moving information from Facebook to Google +

Now that Google + is (reportedly) about to hit 10 million users, maybe you have decided that you want to leave Facebook and move over or, more likely, try using both while we see who wins out. But after 3 years of posting photos and making/stalking friends, you don't want to lose your entire online life & start again. This blog will detail a couple of the ways you can move your information over.
Friends are why we go on to social networks, so it is important to be able to bring them over. This is really easy and only takes 10 minutes or so.

First of all you need a Yahoo email account, just like when you were 16. Once you have your Yahoo account open, click on "Add contacts" and then on "tools" and in the drop down choose "import...". From here you can import the email addresses of all of your Facebook buddies. Easy.

Next step is to export them to GMail. After your Facebook contacts have been added to your Yahoo account, click on "tools" again, and select "export..." and choose the option to export as a Yahoo! CSV file. This will download all of the email addresses onto your desktop somewhere. Now go and open up Gmail, go into "Contacts" and click on "More Actions", then "import". Find the CSV file (it will be called Yahoo_ab.csv or something like that) and double click it.

All of your contacts will now be synced/merged with the data from Facebook, and all of the new contacts will be visible when you go into G+, so you can add them to your circles and send them invites. Boom!

Next is the photos. To get these en masse, open up your Facebook and head into Account Settings. In there you will see an option "Download Your Information." A few self explanatory clicks later and a huge download will be coming your way. This takes a while, so go make a cup of tea. I recommend Sencha. Once it has finished, you will have a folder that is called whatever your profile name is, and will look like this:

Inspiring stuff. Open up the Photos folder and you will see all of your albums are conveniently stored in their own folder. You will need to create new albums in G+ one by one, but the photos can be uploaded in groups. And as an added bonus, the titles you gave your photos in Facebook are all saved as the file name, so you will not lose that - but you will lose comments, likes & tags.

So now we have all of our friends and all of our photos moved over. I am still playing round with getting old posts across, and I am waiting for G+ to integrate with Google Calendar so that I can import my FB events, but for now it is easy to get the most important stuff moved over.

Have fun :)

*Note: Google + does have a direct "import contacts from Yahoo" button, however this was not working for me, hence the extra step to import them into gmail.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Google +: Facebook killer?

Hopefully. After 1 week of playing with it, I am impressed. The ease of keeping your profile secure from certain people, being able to easily see exactly what information is displayed to who, as well as "Hang outs" and a few other features are great.

Using the exclusive invite-only style of marketing that was the halmark of Gmail's launch has seen the social media geeks (like me) feeling more special than we should about using it during the "test phase", and has helped ensure that we all trumpet on about how cool the network is and how everyone should be on there. Indeed, the system has been broken 2 or 3 times since launch due to oversubscription causing problems for their servers. This has meant that even people with invites could not access the system unless they were quick. This bodes well for the future of the network.

A social network is only as good as it's members. The analogy of being the first and only person to own a fax machine rings true. One of my first posts stated that I would only move completely over from Facebook if at least 50% of my ex-girlfriends, or my crush also moved over to Google +. In short, everyone will need a reason to move over, but the reason will be the same for everyone; the people they want to engage with. The fact that the the uptake of the network has surpassed even Google's expectations perhaps points equally to Google's burnt fingers over their previous attempts (Buzz was a fizzer, Wave washed out) as well as the enthusiasm that people have to a genuine competitor to Facebook.

So, what is it like? A person I follow on Twitter described it as "Facebook without it's clothes on", and from a layout point of view it does look very similar, albeit a stripped out version. You can stalk my public profile here to see for yourself, or go sign up here - if the sign up is working.

The two main advantages from my point of view (wearing my consumer hat now) is that it is very easy to control what content is displayed to who, via the "Circles". I have 6 circles set up at the moment: Friends, followers, workmates, colleagues, family & ex-girlfriends. Every time I post any content (text, photos etc) I have to choose which circles can view it. There are also options to post content to everyone on the web (public - like twitter), or "extended circles" (friends of friends). This makes it incredibly easy to make sure my ex-girlfriends only ever see my highlights reel, while my workmates only ever see me sober. Although Facebook does have the option to split your friends into groups with different security settings, it is a bit of a pain in butt to do this, and generally only the social media geeks get it sorted.

Another cool feature of Google + is "Hangouts". This is video chat for multiple people. It can also be used as a means of broadcasting events like conferences, concerts, your stupid dog singing along to Bernard Fanning...whatever, all with the added interactivity of being able to talk back & get involved. The coolness of this feature has already been countered by the addition of Skype video calling to the Facebook chat function, however the quick roll out of this shows how seriously Facebook is taking the Google + threat.

Although I have an iPhone, I have been told that the way Google + can be used with an Android powered phone is fantastic, particularly in regards to photo uploading. I can't wait to see how an iPhone app will work.

Currently Google + is only set up for regular consumers (not business), but they have worked with several companies (Ford, Mashable etc) to build a few test company profiles which will be rolled out in the next two weeks, and they have received several thousand applications from companies to be included in further testing. However in an earlier release google recommended that companies hold off until full support is offered in the "next few months". It will be interesting to see how these company pages can integrate the suite of other Google services, including AdWords, Adsense, maps, YouTube etc. But the scope from a marketing point of view is huge. When you consider the vast information available to marketers currently using Google, the mouth waters at what this platform will allow (marketers hat on now).

So, is it a Facebook killer? I hope so, as I am someone who values being able to control who sees what information about me. However, it will require a quick uptake from the cool kids to see a major shift from what is currently the largest social networking site in the world.

But the future looks promising. This blog post speculates that as of July 10, there were already over 6 million users on Google +. This kind of growth (if accurate) in just over a week is fantastic, but it will need to be sustained before we can start calling Google + a Facebook killer. Until then, I will keep my fingers crossed, keep posting about issues, and trying my hardest to break it during the test period.

Good luck Google!

Have you tried Google +? Would you move from Facebook?