December 22, 2013

Rachel Strella

Should Your Business Abandon Facebook for Google+?

Last week, I broke down the recent Facebook changes and what they mean for your small business social media channelsbusiness.

Some businesses have considered abandoning Facebook in favor of channels that may give them a better return on their investment. I still take the position that we should “wait and see,” but I also want to address recent speculation regarding Google+ and its (re)consideration as a replacement for Facebook.

First, let me explain Google+. The channel, owned by Google, has a similar interface to Facebook primarily due to the layout of the feed, the use circles (rather than lists) for categorizing users, and the ease of sharing text, links and photos.  It integrates with other Google offerings such as Gmail, YouTube, and Google Local.

When Google+ launched in June 2011, some predicted that it would compete with – and even lure users away from – Facebook.  And while some users have migrated from Facebook to Google+, this theory did  not take hold as strongly as some predicted.

Below is a breakdown of the current demographics of each channel.

Facebook changes

While this data has a lot of similarities, there are a few things worth noting. Facebook still has the majority of active users, a high percentage of social web shares compared to other platforms, and a smaller gender gap than Google+, which skews heavily toward men.

It’s vital to have a clear idea of where your target audience resides on social media in order for your plan to be effective. I advise taking the data from this graph into account before making any drastic decisions such as pulling the plug on Facebook.

But, I would be remiss if I did not also mention the significant drop in page views I’ve noticed in the past week as a result of the recent Facebook algorithm changes. Some of my client pages are declining as much as 30% from the previous week.

My clients who paid to acquire Facebook fans are feeling duped that they may have to pay even more in order in order to actually reach those fans.

Several clients are experimenting with boosting posts, which appears to have moderately increased post visibility. It’s too early to tell how much the boosts will help their reach, but it’s clear that more small businesses will have to pay to play to make Facebook an effective part of an ongoing strategy.  (I’ll cover this more next week).

A recent post from friend, colleague and freelance writer Dawn Mentzer, further piqued my interest on the matter. She questions whether it’s time to make a gradual exit from Facebook business pages – and she makes a compelling case for shifting efforts to Google+. I highly respect Dawn’s opinion and was grateful she agreed to offer more insight on why she prefers Google+ to Facebook.  Here are her five reasons:

1. It's widely accepted to share business-related posts on Google+ AND (unlike Facebook) Google doesn't care if your cover photo is your logo. As long as you're not blatantly "selling" in your personal posts, you can use your personal Google+ account professionally. Many, many, many people do.

2. Unlike Facebook, Google+ lets users decide how much or how little they see of a person's or brand's updates in their stream. Google+ doesn't decide for them. That means if someone doesn't want to miss your posts, they won't!

3. I've found it's much, much easier to build a following on Google+ than on Facebook. In fact, I have a hard time keeping up with everyone who adds me to their circles. I know numbers don't mean everything, but in the case of Google+ the numbers have resulted in significantly more interaction as well. People on Google+ tend to be more open to entering conversations.

4.  I find amazing content on Google+! I've learned a lot from some smart, savvy people who have chosen to use Google+ and only Google+. If I wasn't on Google+, I'd be missing out on their insight.

5. I love Google+'s integration with all other things Google. It creates efficiency whereas Facebook creates more work.

It’s clear that business owners have a lot to think about as we continue to navigate the social media landscape. My hope is that I’ve offered insight so that you can make an informed decision. I plan to continue this series on the recent Facebook changes. Next week, I’ll discuss Facebook advertising options and their effectiveness.

What are your thoughts? Are you considering abandoning Facebook in favor of other channels?  

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8 comments on “Should Your Business Abandon Facebook for Google+?”

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      I believe you are also looking for local women, which makes it even more difficult for you.

      I think you are OK with Facebook, for now. Pinterest is something to consider, but again, targeting the local market has not paid dividends for me.

      If you're keeping the blog going, the only other thing I would consider is a regular enewsletter to stay in front of your current and prospective customers!


  1. Great article. I have to say I find it easy to get followers to my personal page but very difficult to my business pages - have you found this to be the case with your clients? How are you getting followers to biz pages easily?

    1. I don't manage the personal pages for my clients, so I'm not sure how well that works for them (vs. business). But to build fans for the the business pages, we use a variety of methods such like ads and importing emails lists. I think the overall thing to remember is that people want to connect with human beings, which is why it may be easier to get folks to the personal side. I remind clients to humanize their brand as much as possible - especially small business clients.

  2. Nice article Rachel. Yes lots of people are talking about this. Facebook is being too much commercial. But that's also expected. With the userbase it has grown over the years, it will be foolish not to capitalize and monetize on that. I used to be irritated by these things earlier.
    But I guess there is no free lunch. No matter what Social Media Marketing channel you use, at some point of time you have to pay for it to get some good return. Who knows whether Google will take similar strategy in future or not?
    That's why my opinion is not to leave Facebook all together. Focusing more on Google+ is okay, but brands need a presence in all major Social Networks. As we don't own these Networks, we can't predict what's coming.

  3. Great insight you've shared. In the end you really have to decide where your audience really is. Most complain that although G+ makes it easier to reach audiences via business pages or personal profiles, the audience they are aiming to reach aren't on G+ to do so.

    So it's not about leaving one for the other as much as it is using all the options available more strategically. If that means investing in Facebook ads then so be it. Promoted posts are ok, but an ad provides more control for the user.

    1. Hi Alice,

      Thanks for reading and responding. I appreciate your comments on LinkedIn, as well.

      I completely agree with your assessment. There are many factors to consider, beyond initial reach.

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