Recent events involving Facebook, Google+, and other social media channels suggest businesses are now facing important decisions with respect to the allocation of their social media networking and marketing resources.
Today I was preparing to make a legal right turn into a clear lane after stopping at a red light. Just as I was about to execute this maneuver an oncoming car abruptly changed lanes into the path that I was about to take. The avoided accident reminded me of the emphatic words of my high school driving instructor – Never change lanes at an intersection.
Accidents are more likely to happen at intersections, and in many respects businesses are facing an intersection that involves Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and other social media channels.
You can avoid the avoidable and maximize your opportunities by recognizing their potential and developing an awareness of what can happen to better respond.
Read further to learn how to develop your best plan by learning from historical actions, including several recent ones that give clues for what to expect in the future.
Facebook is For Friends and Google+ is For Business
In an earlier article on Google+ Local pages I received a comment from a colleague that was the inspiration for this article.
While agreeing in part, I’d like to examine the points he made in greater detail because even those that are valid could be dangerous assumptions at this intersection of these respective social media channels. Commenter’s words are in italics.
“Facebook is for friends and Google+ is for business.”
I understand what you mean by that quote but I don’t think it is as cut and dry as that.
I wholeheartedly affirm the statement that Facebook is for friends and Google+ for business, but I have to give full credit to Guy Kawasaki, who made this statement at BlogWorld 2011 in Los Angeles. What Guy was suggesting is this:
While Facebook has the potential to serve businesses, the activity on Facebook is predominantly friends logging in to check out what’s going on with their friends.
Nevertheless, those friends have the potential for influencing the buying decisions of their friends, if only Facebook would let their voices be heard.
Facebook uses their EdgeRank formula to filter the content all of us share on Facebook, and that makes it exceedingly challenging for businesses to take advantage of the wisdom of friends of friends, unless they are willing to pay for ads and promoted posts.
Google+ might help get your business found more easily (brand awareness) than on Facebook, but for interaction, staying top of mind, etc, G+ can’t touch Facebook.
General Motors recently cancelled a $10 million dollar Facebook ad campaign due to lackluster results. This is an eye-opener for the simple reason that if GM cannot use their abundant resources to get results, how can a small business succeed? The truth is Facebook filters out interaction from only your very best friends.
Facebook filters content to keep what is shared among your circle of friends tight, so that Facebook ads can be better targeted to reach them.
Why do you think Facebook limits everyone to only 5,000 friends, and also occasionally asks you when adding new friends if you know them outside of Facebook? It’s all about targeting advertising using the information in those contextual social graphs of you and your best friends.
Facebook wants the interaction on Facebook to be tight and to best mirror what it is like in real life.
In this regard, I fully agree with Mark Zuckerberg’s vision. It is indeed possible if Facebook would drop the filters or somehow modify their EdgeRank formula to be more open and reflective of reality.
If that happens, I will agree 100% with the aforementioned comment that for interaction Google+ cannot touch Facebook. The truth is the traffic and interaction on Google+ is woefully thin. While Google+ has well over 100 million users, most of them still hang out more on Facebook (where their friends are) than on Google+.
Nevertheless, there is no question that any activity on Google+ will help a business to be more findable both there and on the open web, for the simple reason that Google indexes all of the activity on Google+. There is no filtering at all. The intent is create an open environment for sharing, something that Mark Zuckerberg advocates but fails to deliver.
As a client told me last week, “their Facebook Page is great social proof”. Visitors jump from the website to their Facebook Page and see a whole different side of the company.
Social proof is customers – and that is not who is interacting with your Facebook pages, at least not most small businesses. Why? Thanks to EdgeRank most of your visitors are your friends, who admittedly may also be customers.
Both Facebook and Google+ understand the power of social engagement for accomplishing business objectives, and if the experience on Facebook were unfiltered, there is no question they would win this hands down.
The CrossRoads of Facebook and Google+
While Twitter moves forward as its own unique social media channel that is largely unchanged from the early days, rivals Google+ and Facebook continue to change tactics to achieve leadership in the business of social and search.
Facebook needs to learn to be more business friendly and Google+ needs to be more friendly period – a place where friends want to hang out.
No doubt bright minds are working at each respective organization to accomplish those objectives. In the meantime, businesses like yours and mine have to exercise caution to capably navigate the inevitable changes at this intersection or accidents are bound to happen.
When Google automatically converted over 80 million Google Place pages into Google+ Local pages they made a statement – we’re serious about bringing social to business.
And they have the power to do that because people who are looking for business solutions can find them on Google and Google+. At least for now, that is not possible within Facebook.
What happens on Facebook stays within Facebook. There is nothing wrong with that, provided Facebook becomes searchable to help businesses accomplish their objectives.
It doesn’t appear that Facebook is moving in that direction. What they have done instead is introduced promoted posts – something that clearly indicates they are not changing their business model to be more open. If anything, it looks like they are moving in the opposite direction, and that is not making community managers happy.
For the time being, it looks like we’ll have to pay to play to access all of our friends and fans on Facebook. You’ve got us now Facebook, but what happens when we have other options?
Nobody likes to be pushed into a corner, but that is indeed what is happening.
Facebook is earning revenue, but not our trust – and this is likely to become a topic for discussion now that Facebook is a public company that must be accountable to shareholders who are also users and customers.
It’s best not to make any sudden moves now. Yet, it’s also wise to notice that Google+ is well represented by leading minds that helped Facebook, and especially Twitter become the successes they are today.
Can they do the same for Google+? As Chris Brogan, New York Times bestselling author of Google+ for Business said, it’s still early days.
That said, it’s still smart to get ready to change lanes if you want to be a leading business.
How about you?
Are you straddling Facebook and Google+ or going all in on one or the other – and why?
Comments from the community help us all learn together.
Let us know your views in a comment below – or simply share this with your communities using the share buttons below so that they can participate in the conversation.
Until next time, Jeff