Social media is an ideal way for a small business with a tiny advertising budget to get its name out there and interact with its customers. Integrating the parts of your online strategy is key, but sometimes, it's just not worth the effort to create a page on every social network out there.
Right now, Facebook brand pages are the go-to place for brands that want to be social, but Google+ recently entered the game, trying to present an alternative—or, at the least, a supplement.
Should your small business be on both Facebook and Google+? If not, which one's the way to go? Here's a breakdown of the factors to consider.
Mark Zuckerberg's social behemoth has one glaring advantage: Its gargantuan user base is unparalleled. For a small business, it's nearly guaranteed that whoever your customers are, they're already on Facebook and know how to navigate it.
Google's network has nowhere near the amount of users as Facebook, but its audience is a bit more focused. However, the regular folks that go on Google+ don't check it as often as Facebook, so they are harder to engage. Facebook's users come back to check the site frequently, multiple times a day.
There are a lot of similarities between the engagement features of Facebook and Google+'s brand pages. Facebook has the "like," and Google+ has the +1. Facebook has friend lists, and Google+ has Circles.
Unfortunately for Google+, Facebook completely dominates it on features. It's not even close. Whereas Google+ really only allows you to post pictures, Facebook offers a variety of ways for fans to interact with your brand. It has polls, apps, events, notes (mini blog posts) and even "friend activity," which shows when your friends are talking about your company.
Branding and customization
Pages on Google+ look very similar to the current iteration of Facebook. It has the same design with pictures at the top and a river of posts beneath it. Google+ pages are more minimalistic, with a lot of white space, whereas Facebook piles all of its features on its left-hand navigation bar.
But when Facebook releases its new Timeline for brands, things will be very different. For instance, the change in visual impact is huge. Businesses will be able to instantly grab eyes with a big branded banner at the top of the page. Meanwhile, Google+ will still have those five dinky pictures at the top.
Facebook's customization features go beyond anything Google+ has. It also allows you to embed e-commerce stores, make a page of trivia questions, set up a calendar and much more.
The bottom line
Google+ has its benefits, but it just doesn't match up to Facebook so far. Unless you have the time to spare to run a Google+ page, it's likely not worth the effort because the ability to engage consumers is so limited, and the breadth of audience is too. And when the Timeline comes to brand pages, Facebook will take another big step ahead of Google+.
For a small business, the biggest justification to use Google+ would be to supplement the brand's existing online presence. It's certainly worth it if you have the capability to run a Google+ page without slowing down everything else you're doing online.
But it's obvious that Facebook's brand pages are way ahead and should be the priority for a small business looking to engage its consumers online.
Do you have both a Facebook and Google+ profile? Which do you prefer and why?
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