Facebook vs. Google Plus: Which Social Media Giant is best for Business?

Since its launch in February 2004, Facebook has become a social media behemoth, unrivalled in the number of users it draws. In the second quarter of 2014 alone, there were over 1.25 billion active Facebook users. Based on numbers and activity level, Facebook stands alone at the top of the social media site pack.

However, when it comes to the social media site that is best for business, there are some people who think that Google+ gives Facebook a run for its money. But, relative to Facebook, Google+ is still new on the block because it was first released in June of 2011, more than seven years after Facebook’s launch. Additionally, at just 343 million, the number of users on Google+ pales in comparison to that of Facebook. So, what is it about Google+ that makes so many people believe it’s better than Facebook for promoting business? Let’s take a look at what each site has to offer.

Facebook

In terms of user volume and potential for exposure, Facebook obviously leads by a wide margin. If your goal is to reach as many people as possible as often as possible, Facebook is an excellent choice because it puts your business in front of people every day. How? Every time you post something on your Facebook page, the item populates the timelines of all of your followers.

Additionally, Facebook’s one click share feature allows its users to share anything posted to their timelines. What that means for your business is that once the share button is clicked, your content will then appear on the timelines of all of that user’s followers. Some of them, in turn, will share it with their followers. The potential for exposure on Facebook is almost limitless, as is the type of content that can be shared.

One of the great features of Facebook is that there are virtually no limits to the type of information a company can put on its page. You can post a link to your company website or other social media account, a promotional coupon, advertise an upcoming event, link to a survey or video, and the list goes on. The ease of sharing means that, depending on how engaging and valuable your followers find your posts, your business and what you’re presenting could be shared and presented to countless new leads.

So, how can you tell if your efforts are working? Facebook Insights offers crucial data about how well your individual posts are working (almost in real time), as well as information on your follower’s habits. You can track the number of views on any given post (organic reach), engagement (how many users clicked in a post), how many comments, and how many likes and shares a post has received. Facebook Insights also offers many more titbits of information that will help you determine which type of posts work and don’t work with your followers. That information can be used to tweak posts immediately based on its performance. You can then turn the best-performing posts into a sponsored story or premium ad. It takes some getting used to, but you can learn an awful lot about the habits of your followers using Facebook Insights.

Google+

A major benefit of Google + is that it provides a format for specific types of networking and sharing. Using Google +, the account holder creates ‘circles’ of followers that allow him to target groups of people easily in order to send content and promotional information. For example, if you own a hair salon, you can send a promotional link to your predefined “potential leads” circle without sending it to your business colleagues or established clients. In contrast to Facebook’s general contact list, this feature of Google+ allows you to send out group-targeted content rather than saturating everyone’s timeline in hopes of getting the attention of the right people, while annoying those who aren’t interested. In other words, Google+ is better for those who don’t want to share everything with everyone, as is the case with Facebook’s blanket sharing format.

Another perk of using Google+ is the fact that content posted there is more likely to rank higher in a Google search. If a significant part of your business social media marketing strategy involves blogging, Google+ is definitely worth a look.

Google+ also has Hangouts On Air, which is a sophisticated group interaction tool that trumps anything offered by Facebook. It’s perfect for video conferencing and live demonstrations. It is an ideal tool if your business is visual, or you want to offer live how to demonstrations or sales pitches.

Like Facebook Insights, Google+ Platform Insights allows you to analyse all of the activity of your Google+ account. For example, you can view user’s actions related to your posts, including views and click-through-rates. Just as with the Facebook analytics tool, this tool offered by Google+ is designed to help you get the most out of your Google+ account by helping you better understand the habits of those who are in your circles.

In order to assess whether Facebook or Google+ is better for your business, you would first have to determine what it is that you want from a social media experience. Facebook is the tried and true networking site that is ideal for everyday users who want to interact socially on a more casual basis. They do this by sharing photos, experiences, ideas, and (to the benefit of business owners) valuable posts from others they follow. For businesses that are primarily interested in mass exposure, Facebook is the way to go.

On the other hand, for those who are interested in niche or industry-specific followings, Google+ is the answer. It doesn’t have nearly the number of users as Facebook does, but what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in professional connection building. Google+ provides a more intimate user experience than Facebook, and for some businesses, that may be exactly what is needed.

Many businesses have both a Facebook and a Google+ account, opting to use each for its suited purpose. Regardless of your preference though, monitor and maintain your social media accounts daily, consistently update them with fresh content, and don’t forget to respond to comments. Otherwise, you’ll lose followers and circle members, rather than gain them.