In recent times, brands have become more reliant on social media networks for marketing promotional campaigns to potential, and current, customers. Known for engaging audiences and connecting people all around the world, these networks are the marketing wave of the future. Facebook, the current powerhouse, is leading the way with innovative changes to the nature of marketing platforms. They are not alone in this venture. Recently, top search engine, Google, has released their social media network, Google+. Despite having merely a small portion of the users to that of Facebook, it is growing rapidly and should not to be underestimated. When choosing social networks for your brand, consider the following:
There are over 500 million Facebook users in the world. That is roughly 1 in every 13 people. The amount of active users on this social network is incredible. That being said, it is undeniable that brands can use this site to seek out new clientele and communicate with the current clientele. Designed with social networking in mind, Facebook has made everyone from your little sister to your grandmother a user. As a brand, you have your pick at demographics in this network.
Facebook also gives brands vanity URLs with the brand name included (eg. http://www.facebook.com/leapgo). This makes the URL easy for clients to find when searching for a brand. It’s also a nice way to keep the brand’s identity consistent, which is important when trying to gain clientele.
“Liking” a brand on Facebook automatically links users to the brand page, allowing them to follow their updates and posts. The Google +1 button is more complicated though, because users can +1 your page, but your stream of updates will not show up in their feed unless they add you to their circles. The ability for users to see your updates in their stream increases brand recognition and opportunities for engagement. Ask any marketing professional how important brand recognition is to a business, and they will tell you “it is everything”.
Users can also post comments or critiques about your brand to the page. This form of open dialogue allows for issues to be recognized and dealt with, as well as positive feedback to be seen on a public level. In a sense, it also is a channel for customer service.
Facebook also facilitates the use of social media tools and syncing with other social networks like Twitter and Foursquare, to better manage time, updates, contests, fans etc. Currently Google + does not support this.
Given Facebook’s Edgerank Algorithm, promoting a fan page is not as simple as it used to be. Businesses must adopt best practices and invest in ad space to draw likes and comments.
Also the ability to chat with customers and fans via video isn’t currently available.
There is no Verification (as with Google +) to ensure that pages are legit.
Google+ is backed by Google, the top search engine in the world. This company is, by no means, a stranger to the public. Google+ is guaranteed to have the backing it needs and the possibility of cross-integrating with other products to become one of the most important social media networks in the world.
Brands will have added SEO visibility benefits due to “direct connect”, which pulls up your brand’s page for relevant items put into Google search. Identity on the internet is so important.
With all the people on Facebook, brands have to fight relentlessly to be seen. Google+ has done several things to avoid this issue. “Circles” allow you to group people into various categories of work, family and friends without messages overlapping. These circles can also be used to separate your customers, where specific messages can be specialized to match the group. “Hangouts”, too, are video chats that can incorporate up to 10 people for free, benefiting brands with “face-to-face” interaction or team member contact.
Google+ Pages are designed for businesses and linked to a Google+ account (which can also be a con). You can create more than 1 Google+ Page per account, which is not allowed in Facebook. Brands can dedicate pages to specific products or lines within the company.
“Badges and Verification” are designed to encourage brands to get followed and guarantee that businesses are legit. In other words, no one else can create a false page with your brand’s name.
One major problem with Google+ is that users must be invited to join, meaning that it is exclusive and alienates potential clientele.
The creator of the Google+ Page for your brand becomes the authorized administrator and is the only one that can enter and manipulate the site. Large companies and brands must assign a social media manager until multiple administrators is an option.
Google+ does not give vanity URLs (although this may be coming). Your brand page URL will just be a string of random numbers that do not help in creating an identity to the brand (eg. https://plus.google.com/u/0/108649934225418150411/posts is our Google + URL).
Another drawback is that Google + lacks the two-way interaction for which Facebook fan pages have become priceless. Currently users can comment on posts and updates but they cannot post directly on the page, nor will mentioning a company in an update appear on the company’s business page.
Both Facebook and Google + offer brands incredible ways to interact with, and promote to current and potential customers. So who will gain social network supremacy? Google+ seems to be improving the network with businesses in mind, but Facebook already has the population’s hearts. With the competition neck and neck, both are coming up with innovative ways to separate themselves from each other. The best is yet to be seen, which is good news for both brands and consumers.