Google finally unveiled its Google+ business pages this week, much to the chagrin of Facebook and social media managers who thought they had all their bases covered.
Experts are tussling over whether it’s all hype or if you should be creating a Google+ page for your company right now. For my money, I say full steam ahead. Facebook may be at the center of the social world, but Google is positioned firmly at the center of the business world.
Google+ brand pages will become a more important destination for business interaction than the current Facebook fan pages for a number of reasons, not least the fact that Google is already a destination for information discovery, whereas Facebook is a social destination.
Google is an Information Destination
Facebook is a low-ranking domain when it comes to search, not because it isn’t replete with brand information, but because – as mentioned before – Facebook is still considered a social destination for users. People typically don’t go to Facebook to find information or to collect data; they go to a search engine, and 80% of the time or more, that search engine is Google.
Google has the ability to leverage this – if Google+ brand pages are indexed by the crawlers (as I suspect they will be), users seeking information through search will be quick to find a relevant company’s Google+ brand page. In this way, Google+ could make itself the first stop for brand communication, a powerful edge over Facebook, which usually relies on advertisements or existing brand loyalists to evangelize their message.
Let’s not forget the Google+ Direct Connect feature, already one of my favorites. By typing +Brand Name into the Google Search bar, you are sent directly to that business’s Google+ page. This is more than a clever feature; this is a game changer that ups the social business ante on every other social networking platform.
Google Already Has the Analytics
Facebook Insights offers some impressive feedback of page activities, demographics, and post feedbacks, and I am not here to tell you that you should stop monitoring your Insights on your Facebook pages.
However, much of that information, particularly pertaining to demographic and interaction data, has been exclusively available to Facebook. With the release of Google+ brand pages, I suspect that very soon we will be seeing an integration of this kind of data from Google+ with the pre-existing Google Analytics.
Advertisers will be able to take advantage of this aggregated data to optimize media placements and expenditures, to boot. So although Facebook does a great job of breaking down user interaction with its Insights feedback, Google+ brand page metrics will be practicably applicable in a single location, in concert with one of the most powerful web analytics tools already on the market – Google Analytics.
Pamela Parker has a great write-up at Search Engine Land on how this switch will impact AdWords, so I’m not going to repeat her points, but suffice to say Google has tied this brand page rollout to a number of other changes of which savvy companies can take advantage.
Facebook is a Website; Google is a Network
While Facebook offers many of the same utilities as Google, they are all particular to the Facebook website. Facebook places, fan pages – those are only accessible once you are already in Facebook. Google products, however, can function standalone, which differentiates them tremendously from Facebook’s comparable “features.”
What’s more, Facebook is not only just a website, but it’s also been irritating its user base. Professionally, yes, I use social media platforms on a daily basis, but as a user, I have completely lost touch with the focus of Facebook. Logging in induces anxiety and connection oversharing leads to oversaturation, which leads to disinterest. I don’t peruse Facebook, so it’s unlikely that I will come across many (or any) of the advertisements or pieces of news information that have been algorithmically targeted at me.
Google has an opportunity to provide a product that is both necessary and interesting. Facebook’s ambitious attempt to fundamentally change the user experience has rendered something that is, quite frankly, not working for users the way it was intended by the creators.
This isn’t news to Google. A few months ago, Vic Gundotra, Google’s SVP of Social, cited a consumer survey that indicated customer satisfaction with Facebook was hardly higher than that of the IRS. “People are barely tolerant of the Facebook they have,” said Gundotra.
So, is Google+ a Facebook killer now? No, certainly not. For better or for worse, we are in it for the long haul with Facebook and it’s not going anywhere. However, Google+ brings something to the table that Facebook didn’t have, that Facebook will never have: the rest of Google.
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