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Since the beginning of Google+, people have been saying it’s the new Facebook. And, with the recent changes to Facebook, people have picked up the rally cry again. I’m here to tell you they’re wrong.

Sure, Twitter was the new Facebook; Facebook was the new MySpace; LinkedIn was/is the new Rolodex; and Google+ is the new new. But these social media channels are just tools. Each has a unique set of features (despite their attempts to make it all vanilla) and each comes with upsides and downsides. If you’re going to use any of these, you need to be aware of how they’re unique and how you can use each of them to your advantage. (Don’t make them a disadvantage.)

The uniqueness of Google+ and Facebook is why one shouldn’t replace the other. Let’s think about it.

Google is known as the ultimate search engine. It’s a verb. If you want to find information, what do you do? You Google it. Google works because of it’s content rich sources.

Facebook on the other hand can take some time to search through. You’ve got to know exactly how a brand is named, or recognize a logo, or be able to discriminate between imposters and the real thing. If you’re looking for information on an individual, your fingers are crossed that their security settings are set such that you can gain more info than just their name and gender.

Google+ is not Facebook because with Google+ there are no security settings other than how well you utilize “Circles”. Pause for a moment. Think about your Facebook activity over the past week. Whatever you’re posting is because you’re comfortable with whomever is viewing it. You’ve accepted their friend request. You’ve adjusted security settings so that strangers don’t know your whereabouts or see your family photos. True?

If you think Google+ is your new Facebook, think again. If you had posted the same content on Google+ over the past week – photos, work rants, health concerns, etc. – it would all be accessible to anyone you’ve shared it with – Circles or Public. My guess is that on Facebook, you haven’t generally used their lists when posting content. If you plan to move to Google+, you need to start thinking about categorizing people into groups (aka Circles) and determining how you plan to interact with those Circles.

See what I mean in the most general terms by doing a little experiment with my name. Google “Heather Schoegler”. If you’re logged in to Google+, you’ll see my Google Profile listed first in the results. Smart on Google’s part, but potentially stupid on yours. (If you’re not logged in to Google, my Google Profile appears around the fifth position.) Now log-in to Facebook and search for me. You won’t find much unless you’re one of my 364 friends.

My advice, don’t make Google+ your new Facebook. Do sign-up for Google+. Do post there. But be mindful about what information you’re sharing with your Circles. You also have the option to post to “public”, but I’d caution against that in general “facebook-like” use.

Remember, whatever site you’re on, behave online as you would offline. This means not doing, saying, typing, messaging, texting, etc. anything you don’t want on the front page of the New York Times…or Google.