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