It used to be so simple. Friends were people you knew and liked. Then, Facebook started suggesting folks. Co-workers, friends of friends, people in your extended network. It grew and grew. And with it - friend guilt. People who you might know, or fake people who were scamming, or brands. Everyone it seemed wanted to be my friend. And Facebook was happy to oblige. But, despite the fact that the nature of 'friends' was changing, Facebook did little to solve the problem. In fact, Google+ understood this, creating curated 'circles' to solve the problem. But strangely, circles makes it worse. Because having to create your own definition of what categories now involves judgment calls. Are social media friends the same as school friends? What about business friends or co-workers from former gigs?So, the good news for Facebook is that G+ is in many ways reminding users of what they like about Facebook, that it is at its roots about real relationships - not an endless stream of incoming 'links' from vendors, salespeople, spammers, and the whole wide web. While G+ requires a significant amount of care and feeding to set up, and real work to continue to sort and filter circles, Facebook has a massive head start.Why? Google employee Aaron B Ilba was on the Orkut team. He explained Google's inherent bias against Social this way:At Google "I encountered an environment that viewed social networking as a frivolous form of entertainment rather than a real utility. At that time (2005), hardly anyone at Google actually used Facebook, so they just didn't understand what people were getting out of social networking products. Incredibly, many people on the Orkut team did not use their own product (let alone Facebook) outside of work. By contrast, everyone I know who worked at Facebook was a passionate user of that product."Indeed. And while 2005 was a long time ago, as recently as this past April, Google was saying that Social wasn't an important 'signal' for search. "Social is just one signal. It's a tiny signal" said Amit Singhal, a Google employee who runs the ranking and relevancy algorithms.Does Larry Page still feel that way? Let's hope not, or Google+ is doomed. And frankly, Facebook shouldn't mind a bit of friendly competition (or even not that friendly). After all, they've got a good head start, but it won't last forever. Google+ isn't going to go the way of Wave or Buzz. And while Google may consider Social to be just one of many 'signals' that they listen to in search, the fact is that they have some very, very powerful data that they could use to automate the way circles are created and populated. They're no doubt hearing that creating circles today is just too much work. And 'work' isn't something that leads to easy user adoption.So, five things Facebook can do now to make their world better than Google+.Google lets anyone create circles of any kind or shape, but that's a judgment that is both personal and painful. Facebook can leapfrog this and create a new paradigm in the friends format.Facebook should add 5 new categories:- School Friends. (automatically add anyone within your large friend group that also went to the same school you did to this group).- Work Friends (automatically add anyone within your overall friends who also works at the same company you do).- Social Friends (let users create up to five social categories; IE: Yoga, NY Tech Meetup, TED, Documentary, and ??? then create groups of friends around these orbits).- Business Friends (relationships within your area of work expertise, but not your workplace)- Fans / Groups allow people to organize a group of friends around a Fan page or a group page, a social network within your social network.Facebook has the lead because your friends are already there, and they're already self-described and self-organized around your social 'circles'. Google+ is too labor intensive, and will continue to be. Facebook can auto generate these new sub-genre's, and make it easy to talk to various communities in different voices.The battle over my social network is just heating up - and I'm looking for innovations that keep it fun. Work? I don't need more of that - so make sure the tools are simple, sexy, and provide automation that helps but doesn't replace my human filter.That's the trick.Steve Rosenbaum is founder and CEO of Magnify.net, and the Author of the recently released McGrawHill Business book "Curation Nation" (March / 2011). 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