This is a guest post from Jon Mowat.
Whether you’re building a business or promoting your blog, it’s difficult to ignore the huge influence social media can have.
Facebook is still the most popular social network by far, but it may surprise you to find out that it’s not Twitter but Google Plus that comes in at second place, and by quite some way.
In fact, of all the social media users out there, 70% are estimated to have a Facebook account, while 50% have a Google Plus account.
If you’re going to be promoting yourself it’s difficult to ignore either of these two giants.
Let’s dig a little deeper to see the real differences.
Key Statistics Although Google Plus reported more than a billion registered users at the end of 2013, only 359 million of these were counted as active users (logging in at least once a month).
Facebook’s active userbase is huge with a staggering 1.23 billion active users at the end of 2013. That’s four times more than Google Plus.
It has been estimated that Google Plus is adding 800,000 users per month, and that within the next two years, Facebook will be generating in excess of 840 billion ‘shares’ per month, with Google Plus generating 1096 billion ‘+1′ recommendations.
The picture for Google Plus doesn’t look great when we look at average user engagement either, dropping it well behind Twitter. According to Nielson, during November:
- Facebook had 128m unique visitors to its website for an average 6 hours 15 minutes
- Twitter had 33m unique visitors to its website for an average 33 minutes
- Google Plus had 29m unique visitors to its website for an average 7 minutes
The smartphone app data showed an even more marked divide for time spent on Google Plus when compared to its two rivals:
- Facebook had 108m unique visitors to its smartphone app for an average 7 hours
- Twitter had 34m unique visitors to its smartphone app for an average 2 hours 30 minutes
- Google Plus had 41m unique visitors to its smartphone app for an average 11 minutes
But statistics can be misleading and it’s often more important to focus on quality rather than quantity when it comes to social media marketing.
It may be easier to gain friends and get your business or blog in front of more faces on Facebook, but if the click through rate or traffic quality is poor, then it might be time to take a closer look at Google Plus instead.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key comparisons between the two platforms.
- Social Sharing. Although Google+ and Facebook are both social media sites, they work very differently. Google+ allows users to search and make connections with people who share special interests or work in similar industry sectors. The ability to put people into own predefined ‘circles’ enables you to target content towards specific groups, such as your business contacts, friends, colleagues, potential clients, etc. Facebook on the other hand uses a central contact list and isn’t set up in the same way to create groups and broadcast content specifically at those groups. This extra dimension allows for more focused content orientation, which can be beneficial to both users and digital marketers.
- SEO: From a search engine optimisation perspective, Google+ definitely comes up trumps. With content published on Google+ far more likely to appear in search results and the growth of authorship as a key ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm, it’s not hard to see why many people treat Google+ as a type of blogging tool in and of itself.
- Brand Engagement. While Facebook relies on its high profile brand and huge and engaged userbase, Google+ is part of the Google suite of applications, from Gmail to YouTube to Blogger. Brand engagement for Facebook occurs primarily within Facebook itself, whereas Google+ is just one slice of the Google pie, giving users (and advertisers) the potential for multiple interactions with users across Google applications.
- Business vs. Social uses. Business pages in Facebook have become a significant channel for sharing business information, echoing the large volumes of individual social updates and shares. Google+ offers similar features, but given its content orientation and privacy options, it’s a bit more focused on business interactions.
- Hangouts vs. Chats. Technological innovation has been at the heart of the social media boom. Google+’s Hangouts on Air service adds multimedia, including free video connections, to group interaction. In comparison to Facebook’s rather limited two-way or group chat, this can add a lot of flexibility for real-time sharing and interaction and is brilliant for webinars or live demonstrations.
- Advertising. The advantage Google+ could enjoy over Facebook and Twitter as an advertising platform, lies in this ability to see a much larger picture of people’s online behaviour. In 2013 on his blog, Nate Elliot described the concept of a database of affinity; “a catalogue of people’s tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviours”, something he sees as capable of bringing “untold rigor, discipline, and success to brand advertising.” Despite accusations of Google+ being a ghost town, it would be unwise to ignore the marketing potential of a product that could soon be tapping into an unprecedented volume of Google user data.
In spite of their many similarities, Google+ and Facebook have some key differences. The Facebook model is very clearly aligned with everyday social networking within groups often defined by familiarity (that is friendships or family). Shares, chats, and updates are the hallmark of Facebook interactions.
Google+, whilst it may not have anywhere near the same engagement levels as Facebook, is an entirely different animal. With its focus on content, interest groups and sophisticated multimedia interactivity like Hangouts on Air, Google+ is arguably in a far stronger position to work better for businesses or individuals seeking to build more professional or interest/industry specific connections outside their immediate friendship groups.
Google+’s links to Google’s suite of other applications also makes it fertile territory for cross pollination from an advertising or marketing perspective.
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Category: Social Media