Should You Leave Facebook for Google Plus?

Facebook users going to Google+Ever since Google+ was launched back in 2011, it’s constantly being compared to Facebook. Anytime a new feature is introduced on either platform, they’re being accused of copying or competing with each other.

It seems like users are either on one side of the fence or the other. The rumors usually goes both ways: Google is a ghost town or angry Facebook users are moving to Google+.

Is there really only room for one social media platform? There are definite benefits and downfalls to both platforms but for business owners who are usually short in resources, focusing their efforts in the right place(s) is crucial.

Comparing Growth

Google+

GlobalWebIndex recently reported that Google+ is now the second-biggest social platform worldwide after Facebook with 343 million active users. There’s seem to be some confusion on how those numbers were calculated as various other Google products are included within those numbers.

Nonetheless, according to data published by Google in December 2012, more than 135 million Google+ users were active in just the stream. As of May 2013, that number has increased to 190 million users.

 Google+ Growth

Image source: http://marketingland.com

Facebook

Facebook has seen a consistent increase in active users since it was founded in 2004. There were 665 million Daily active users on average for March 2013, an increase of 26% year-over-year (source: TechCrunch.com) and 1.11 billion monthly active users as of March 2013 (source: Facebook.com).

Although growth has slowed in countries such as the US and Canada as well as in Europe, the company has grown by 54 million monthly active users, a 23.2% increase from Q1 2012 (source: insidefacebook.com).

 Facebook Daily Active Users Q1 2013

Image source: http://techcrunch.com

Time Spent on Site

Mashable recently reported that time spent on Facebook has decreased to 6 hours 44 minutes per month from 7 hours, 9 minutes per person in March.

Although the time spent on Google+ is substantially lower than Facebook (around 7 minutes), it is slowly going up. It remains to be seen if Google users will increase their time on the platform with the popularity of Google Communities and Google Hangouts.

Why Would Facebook User Want to Move to Google Plus?

Facebook EdgeRank

Unless you’re investing in Ads and Promoted Posts, Facebook has made it increasingly difficult for business users to reach their audience. Facebook claims to have an algorithm formula called Edgerank in place to “improve the quality” of the user experience on the site, but many users believe that it’s more about shareholders than users.

Logically, business owners should not expect to be able to advertise their business for free on Facebook and a marketing budget should be allocated for Facebook Ads. The problem seems to be that Page owners can’t seem to reach their fans without having to continually fork out some cash even if their fans are obviously interested in what they have to say (after all, they did click on the Like button).

Perhaps as some have suggested, a better option may be to give business owners the choice to pay an upfront fee or a monthly subscription based on the size of their fan base.

Facebook Usability

Another frustration for users seems to be Facebook’s terrible interface. With every new feature released, there seems to be a flood of complaints about the changes and the lack of stability for the platform. Facebook cover rules, threaded comments, Facebook ads and other wonky features are a continuous source of annoyance for Facebook users.

Facebook mobile app is also notorious for being very slow, crashing and lacking desired features.

Facebook Fatigue

It has also been reported that teens are suffering from Facebook fatigue and are starting to spend more time on other platforms. Teens shouldn’t be ignored since they constitute a consumer segment worth $819 billion. This is also significant for Facebook since what people do and say on social media considerably influences the purchase decisions of customers.

Another research by Pew Internet & American Life Project in December also indicated that more than a quarter of Facebook users surveyed said they planned to spend less time using the service in 2013 than they did last year.

Google’s Advantages

The growing impact of Google+ on Google’s search engine ranking is one of the most common arguments why businesses feel the need to increase their presence on the network. After all, Google+ is Google and Google is the main go-to source for search for the majority of web users.

Having a Google+ profile also allows you to claim your authorship markup. Google Authorship markup is a way for Google to show within the search results who’s the author of a specific piece of content. The result shows a picture of the author and displays a link to the author’s Google+ profile. Authorship markup may be useful to help you stand out in search results and increase the click through rate to your site.

As well, the integration of Google products within Google+ and a superior interface makes Google+ a very attractive platform. Google+ can be very beneficial for businesses not only as a social platform but also as a business collaboration tool.

There are also advantages for being an early adopter on Google+. You have the ability to cut through the noise and become the go-to resource and leader in your niche which is something that is becoming increasingly difficult to do on Facebook.

 

What Should YOU do as a Business Owner?

Although looking at the number of Facebook users and time spent on the site, it may look like a no brainer, but unless you’re paying to have your posts seen by your fans it may not be as obvious. This decision may also depend on your niche and how successful you are at building your community and engaging your fans on Facebook.

With Facebook’s astonishing market penetration, it may be very difficult to believe that users would ever switch to Google+, especially after having invested so much time on Facebook.

One of the biggest argument businesses are making as to why they are not on Google+ is that their customers are on Facebook and not on Google+. Although this is a valid point, let’s not forget that Google+ is barely 2 years old so it will take time to build trust with internet users.

While as a business owner you may have a preference for one platform or the other, keep in mind that your own personal preference doesn’t really matter! Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to social media but knowing exactly who your target market is and understanding the purpose of each platform should help you decide where you should spend your time.

 

What do you think, which platform works best for your business?

 

Image source: henrie tsai via Compfight

  • http://twitter.com/leahjayart Leah Jay

    I am trying to get more of my existing fans and friends to move to Google+, but it seems to be a bit of a hard sell. The best thing about Google+ for me are the HOAs, though – I don’t think FB people realize what a cool and useful feature that is. I intend to stick with Google+ just to use the HOA feature, and see if “trust needs to be built” as you say. Patience…

  • http://www.fredericgonzalo.com/en Frederic Gonzalo

    Great post, Genevieve. In my humble opinion, though, it’s not a matter of Facebook or Google+ but rather how a brand can or should use both for optimal results.

    As much as I hate Facebook changing the rules on a near-daily basis, there is one stat not mentioned in your post that begs to be taken into consideration: how active are users? It’s estimated that 58% of Facebook users go to the site daily! Or 80% of them go every other day… Now that’s what we can call a “sticky” site. And as much as I like Google+, when you read that the average user spends 7 minutes per month, it may all happen in one session when folks go to check it out at very random moments.

    So… still a good bet to stick with both until we see a shift towards G+, which shall happen but perhaps not in a mainstream fashion as some fans would hope to.

    Cheers from Quebec City,
    Frederic

  • Matt

    This is a well thought out article and something I’ve been considering myself recently. The numbers are huge on Facebook, but restricted. The numbers are small on Google+ but it’s open too all. Buzz & Wave failed, I don’t think ‘Plus’ will be allowed to go the same way.

Genevieve Lachance is a web marketing consultant who has a passion for social media and technology based in Montreal, Canada. Read More About Me »