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The Facebook and Google+ Faceoff for Business Users

Social Media Rubic CubeIn 2013 Facebook made changes to the way stories and brand pages turn up on users’ Newsfeeds. Their new algorithm is designed to ensure high-quality and relevant content is delivered on Newsfeeds, over and above the latest meme photo.

Are you one of the many businesses that has suffered a big slump in the level of organic reach on Facebook? You do have the option to pay to ‘promote’ your posts and extend the reach substantially, but is this option worthwhile?

According to research conducted by Ignite Social Media, paid exposure can provide an initial increase in reach, but this can sometimes be followed by a sharp reduction – a bit like a “short-term sugar rush” according to Jim Tobin, Ignite’s president. One study by Ignite even found that the impact of organic reach was almost three times (76%, compared to 28%) that of paid content, when tested against the actions of a control group.

This doesn’t mean that paying for advertising space through Facebook is never worthwhile; it just indicates it may be more effective to ‘earn’ rather than merely ‘buy’ Facebook success.

So how do you earn success on Facebook?

According to Ignite, “smart marketing is about help not hype”. In other words it’s about providing some real solutions and value for your audience, over and above producing a flashy ad campaign that pops up in people’s newsfeeds.

In addition, social media advertising should form part of an overall marketing strategy and not be treated as separate from it. Marketers also need to think about what their followers want to read and share, and to consider using influencer marketing methods.

In other words, paying for ads without doing the rest of the hard yards is likely to yield some pretty dismal results.

Is Facebook sending people to Google Plus?

Quite likely. With the changes to Facebook, many businesses seem to be taking a fresh look at Google+, or renewing previously abandoned attempts to establish a following on that platform.

While there are similarities between the two platforms, Google+ may have more to offer to a business. In general Facebook is more of a platform for friendships, interest pages, and plenty of trivia. On Google+ you are less likely to see constant pictures of Grumpy Cat and what your best friend just made for dessert, as you might while scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed.

Its advertising features are also less intrusive than Facebook’s, at the moment anyway, so ads may be more likely to reach the right audience.

Google+ features businesses might prefer

G+ has a number of marketing tools that business owners may find beneficial.

  • ‘Authorship’ enables you to link your published articles and blog posts with your G+ account. This in turn can improve rankings with Google’s search engine and also help you to establish yourself as a trusted authority on your topics.
  • The ‘Circles’ feature is good for sharing with particular interest groups, so you don’t need to keep changing social media platforms to split what you share with family, colleagues and clients.
  • ‘Hangouts’ provides the option of group conversations and small webinars.
  • ‘Ripples’ provides you with a visual of how your posts are being shared and by whom – a good way to see who your main influencers are.
  • Paid ads appear only to people who are doing Google searches. This means that marketing is being targeted to those who are genuinely interested.

Generally speaking, social media can provide a great marketing opportunity, and social signals such as likes and shares look set to have an increasing impact on SEO in the coming years. We don’t suggest giving up on Facebook just yet, but we highly recommend taking a new look at Google+ if you didn’t make much use of it last year.

Whichever platforms you choose, simply forking out a lot of money for ads isn’t going to cut it on its own. Instead, look back to the foundations of marketing – know your audience well, provide them with real solutions to problems, target your messages, and of course always strive to provide the best quality in your online content, your products, and your service to your customers.