Social Media Strategies: Google+, Facebook or Both?
Submitted by Paul Beakley on Fri, 07/29/2011 - 1:50pm
I've had a chance to really dig into Google+ the past few weeks, and it's an interesting critter.
What I really like:
- Total control over who you follow and why. That's great.
- Tighter integration with the rest of the web. Facebook is a closed ecosystem, although many (including Z-Com's) websites now feature Facebook integration. But all that does is facilitate the integration of your website into Facebook's ecosystem.
What I don't love:
- No way to set up a Google+ presence for a business (yet).
- The mobile iteration is awful.
- You can't really promote people to follow you. There's isn't a "follow me on Google+" type functionality the same way there is for Twitter and Facebook, at least that I've seen. I assume this will change as Google+ gets a wider release.
I am finding, so far, that I prefer the Facebook experience -- both for my own use and for my clients. The biggest difference I see so far is that Google+ gives you control over your audience, while Facebook requires that you control your "brand." Yes, fine, you can make "groups" in Facebook but it's underutilized and not the assumed relationship. In FB, the assumption is that every relationship is reciprocal. In G+, it's the asymmetrical Twitter model.
I like sharing oddball stuff with a wider audience via Facebook, but it also means I carefully manage my online brand. It's fun when I invite a client in my Friends list, and they see that I saw Captain America or rode 40 miles on my road bike. I'm giving them a (controlled) peek into my life. They can also see my political leanings, which I have to take into consideration when deciding whether to friend them or not. That's a good thing, but it takes work. Google+ gives you total control, which to my mind is the death of surprising revelations. It is less rich, in my mind, with unexpected results.
I would point out that nobody has really figured out how to make a penny on Twitter. Believe me, if there was an answer, I'd be presenting it to my clients. It's great for reinforcing a brand or personality that already has a presence. Very, very few people establish a brand via Twitter (exception: Shit My Dad Says, but to me the rare exception proves the rule). But you can advertise within FB's ecosystem and garner many many followers. That whole experience is just not part of G+ yet, but I suspect it will be just as soon as Adwords make their way into the UX.
I think G+ is going to totally murder Twitter in time, largely due to Google's resources and access to the overall web experience. You'll end up with an omnipresent bar (like Digg, another obvious inspiration for G+) that follows you around no matter where on the web you go. I don't really see Twitter doing the same. Hashtagging is trivially easy to add to G+, which then opens up the possibility of following tags rather than specific users. It's coming, just watch.
So that leaves us with G+ and FB.
From a marketing perspective, my take is this. Use FB to manage and grow your business, and use G+ and FB together to grow your personal brand. I like that I can follow someone interesting in G+ (I just added nobelist Paul Krugman, for example), without having to require that they follow you. I'm pretty sure Mr. Krugman will not be adding me to any of his Circles any time soon.
Using G+ to manage your personal brand means leveraging your Circles tools, and that may prove to be a lot of work for the non-nerds out there who live and breathe this stuff. I'll bet your parents will not bother building out carefully considered Circles, nor will they be careful about "sharing" links that were originally shared with limited circles. They'll use G+ the way they use Facebook, which is to say indiscriminately. For those out there who are smart about using what Google gives you, it'll be awesome. For everyone else it's going to suck.