Social media is without a doubt the leading method in which businesses can remain on top of business trends and opportunities, through intimate engagement with customers and potential customers.
Acknowledging the multiple platform options, low barriers of entry, and unlimited offers associated with social media sites, using a social media platform to launch your marketing strategy and create brand awareness is imperative for business success.
Several top social media platforms include:
– Twitter which is perfect for businesses offering a steady stream of news and links to their followers,
– Instagram and Pinterest which are great showcases of visual marketing, and
– LinkedIn which is perfect for businesses who want to build a network of clients and business colleagues.
However, the social media platforms we will be talking about today are Facebook and Google+. These two popular and highly debated social media platforms offer great opportunities for small businesses, but they still carry their own set of risks which we shall explore.
That is why below we will look at the pros and cons of each platform, as we try and establish whether Google+ has the ability to overtake Facebook as the leading social media platform.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy this comprehensive post.
Facebook: What You Need To Know
Facebook is the world’s leading social media platform, offering 1.39 billion active users a place to congregate and interact. Currently, 64% of all active users visit Facebook daily, and over 25 million small businesses have pages on Facebook.
Facebook aims to promote your business through 4 defined steps, which include driving online sales, increasing local sales, raising brand awareness, and promoting your app. These steps are a powerful way of raising sales for your online business, as well as raising awareness for your brick and mortar shop.
In the end, Facebook acts as a platform where your business, services, and products can be discussed, where you can engage with customers, where brand loyalty can be built, and where sales can be facilitated.
Pros of Facebook for your Business
- Facebook allows you to advertise to a targeted audience, based on specifications like location, gender, age, interests, previous visits to your page, and other relevant information. Additionally, with 1.39 billion users, Facebook provides you with a wide pool of potential customers to market to.
- You can track the effectiveness of your Facebook advert, by simply adding a snippet of code to your page. This tracking ability gives you the chance to analyze how many purchases are made as a result of your advert, and you can use this to determine your Return On Investment (ROI) and evaluate your performance.
- Facebook has a provision for Custom Audiences, which allows you to securely engage with a select segment of customers. You can create custom audiences using contact information and email lists. With a custom audience you can target individuals who have previously shown strong interest in a particular product or service.
- Marketing via Facebook allows you to directly promote to customers who will engage with your apps and games, with an added ability of measuring the effect Facebook adverts have on the number of app/game installations and sales.
- Facebook also has a provision for Lookalike Audiences, which allows you to find and market to people who share traits with current customers. These traits include location, gender, age, and interests.
- Facebook has an option of using custom designed pages, which capture attention using visually appealing messages. This is a great way of enticing new visitors to your page, and converting them into sales.
- One thing that has made Facebook so popular is its ability to breakdown language barriers. Using the Facebook translation feature you can interact with people speaking different languages, in turn growing your market audience.
- If you are not in a position to fund a Facebook Advert campaign, you can opt to promote posts that are made up of exciting and time-sensitive pieces of content. This content will appear as a sponsored story close to the top of your audience’s newsfeed.
Promoted posts usually last a day, but during that day you can get enough traction for your content to grow without additional financial investment.
Cons of Facebook for your Business
- The filter settings on Facebook are inadequate. While you have the ability to stop seeing posts from a particular person or even reduce the number of posts on a certain subject, streamlining your news feed is difficult and often imperfect.
- While engaging with your audience via Facebook is great, many competitors, angry employees, and disgruntled customers may use Facebook to post spam and derogatory/inflammatory comments, or even level false accusations about your business. Additionally, some customers may unintentionally use photos and language that do not fit in with the image you portray.
This information is there for everyone to see, and if it is not professionally dealt with in a timely manner it can do damage to your brand.
- Using Facebook as part of your social media marketing strategy is time-consuming. You will need to respond promptly to queries, reply to suggestions, monitor customer reaction, watch out for harmful comments, and regularly post relevant and beneficial content.
If you have a large number of engaged users then you will need to designate a professional individual or team to manage your Facebook page so that you do not fall behind on this. Failure to do so will result in an ineffective campaign that may harm your business.
- Only around 30% of your posts will show up on the newsfeeds of individuals who have liked your Facebook page.
- Facebook holds the authority to switch up the rules at any time, and this includes tweaking its privacy policies, raising the cost of advertising, and deleting pages without warning. This takes control out of your hands, and can leave your business in a negative position if one of the changes directly affects the way you conduct business.
- Facebook advertising is done through Cost Per Click (CPC) or Cost Per Impression (CPM). The minimum CPC is $0.1 and the minimum CPM is $0.2, however, bidding from competitors can increase this cost acutely.
This can put small business at a disadvantage.
Google+: What You Need To Know
Google+ was introduced to the public in June 2011, on the heels of several failed Google social media ventures like Wave, Orkut, Friend Connect, and Buzz. Today it is the fastest growing social media network out there.
While Facebook relies on driving online sales, increasing local sales, raising brand awareness, and promoting your app to build your business, Google+ stresses the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
This social media network has been created to optimize your visibility on Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS’s), in addition to enhancing the online presence of your small business.
The beauty of Google+ also lies in its ability to integrate with other Google products, as well as the fact that an overwhelming majority of Google+ users tend to be tech-savvy users.
Pros of Google+ for your Business
- The privacy and filter settings on Goggle+ are quite intuitive. When sharing content you have the ability to choose which segment of your audience can view what you have posted, and which segment is restricted from viewing your information. This segmentation is a simple example of targeted marketing, allowing you to promote content tailored to a certain audience.
- On the same note, Google+ also gives you the chance to filter the data you view or receive, in turn ensuring that you are not bogged down by tons of information that is not useful to you. The same segmentation that determines who sees your content can be used to determine whose content you see.
- One of the most impressive features of Google+ is its ability to seamlessly connect with other Google products– Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Docs, Blogger and other Google for Business services. This means that with a single platform you can combine all the important aspects of running and marketing your business.
- Businesses that have a presence on Google+ tend to benefit from more favorable rankings on Google’s SERP’s. This is due to the fact Google is actively working to ensure that their network is integrated through all of its products.
- Google+ makes use of Communities, which are a great way of connecting and networking with potential customers, businesses in your industry, and strategic partners. Once you join a relevant community you can engage with the aforementioned groups, share ideas, sell your product, and receive feedback for what you are offering.
- With Google+ it is easy to engage with potential customers, even when they are not in your circles. No more waiting for customers to come to you, now you can reach out to them without the heavy restrictions seen on Facebook.
- The Google+ Hangout is an exciting and extremely useful function offered on Google+, which acts as a video stream where you can chat with members and customers of your business. You can host 10 users on a video call and 150 users in a group discussion using Google+ Hangout.
Additionally, you can combine Google + Hangout with Google Events and Google Calendar, so that you can invite Google+ users to your online seminar ahead of time.
- Google Authorship is also a part of Google+, and it allows you to assert authorship for your content. This means that any original content you create will be accredited to you, even if content thieves attempt to claim it as their own.
Furthermore, when you search for your content in Google’s search pages your picture will show up next to it. Authorship leads to increased rankings and Click-Through Rates (CTR’s), due to improved credibility.
- Status updates on Google+ are indexed immediately, so that they will end up in the search results as soon as you click ‘share’.
- Google+ also offers Google+ Local and Google+ Publisher. The former helps your business to connect with local customers, by allowing users to review your business- similar to Yelp. The latter connects your Google+ Local page to your website, so that any search for your business name will reveal visual branding to your audience e.g. Google+ followers, recent posts, and reviews.
Cons of Google+ for your Business
- Google+ has severe restrictions on spamming, and if you repeatedly post the same piece of content without making changes you can be labeled as a spammer. Once you are tagged as a spammer, it will be difficult getting off that blacklist- this can have adverse effects on your social media marketing strategy.
- The biggest downfall of Google+ is its limited number of engaged users. This is especially prominent when you compare it to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. A study done by Edward Morbius shows that there are 2.2 billion Google+ profiles, which are automatically created when anyone signs up for a Gmail account.
However, only 9% of these users actively post public content, and out of these users 37% use their profiles to post comments on YouTube videos. This means that the number of Google+ profiles used to make public posts not related to YouTube videos is between 4-6 million users.
- The Google+ contests and promotions policy forbids businesses from hosting promotions and contents on Google+ pages. This stands in contrast to the more open policies of Facebook, and this limits the amount and type of marketing you can conduct.
- Unlike Facebook, Google+ lacks a private message facility. You can work around this by sharing a post with only 1 intended person, but this is a hassle that needs to be simplified.
- Google+ is not as intuitive as Facebook, and its newsfeed is cluttered with content on the right and left. Additionally, navigating your way through Google+ is difficult, especially when you are new to the platform.
As you can see, Facebook and Google+ are both social media powerhouses that excel and fail in several areas. While it is important to integrate each social media platform into your website as well as your marketing strategy, the first thing you need to do is determine the resources you have.
Facebook will perform outstandingly if you have the budget to conduct targeted adverts, as well as the time to frequently communicate with your audience and maintain the integrity of your page.
Google+ is an excellent platform choice if you are starting out and would like to create a large business network in a short amount of time, however, it will be ineffective as the foundation of your social media marketing strategy.
As of now, Google+ shows no sign of surpassing Facebook as social media king, due to the overwhelming number of passive pages and the underwhelming number of engaged users. However, make no mistake; Google+ should be incorporated into your marketing strategy as it holds numerous advantages that Facebook lacks.
So supplement your Facebook page with a Google+ page, and begin to build your business using a multi-platform approach. Perhaps in a few years we will be singing a different tune: Google+ shows great potential and should not be ignored!
For another insightful read be sure to check out the hot SEO vs PPC debate, and do not forget to subscribe to more comprehensive posts sent directly to your inbox.