Diet Coke, Nike, Apple, Toyota and other big brands are jumping onto and engaging their audiences with Facebook and Google+. They’re holding contests, having discussions in the G+ hangouts (the Muppet movie promotion was especially fun) and really using their social media platforms to increase brand awareness and ultimately make money.
But if you’re a small business with little time, energy and resources to spend on sending your fans to the Super Bowl which is the right outlet for your? I’m going to complicate your life and say both, sorry. However how you engage on both can be the same with little tweaks on either side. There are some key differences between Facebook and Google+ to keep in mind when shaping your outreach.
-Google is showing “+pages” in their search results. So if search results drive sales for your business this could be important. Your posts should be SEO and keyword friendly. And with the expanded Google “Search plus Your World” feature which integrates social results within normal search results (you must have a G+ account to see these results and they are restricted to public content and content from your own circles) you can also monitor what’s being said about your business. The big drawback here is that now Google search seems to favor the G+ results over relevancy so this could greatly influence how your business is found.
– So far, Facebook is the place for customers to go for more textual information with G+ having more audio/visual capabilities. So know your audience (prospects) and go where they are. And frankly at this point Facebook is where they are simply because they’ve been here the longest. People have developed their networks over time and with every “Like” from their network broadcast continuously there’s a good chance you’ll be found this way as well.
-Google+ is not yet mainstream. It’s a haven for more tech-oriented and some creative populations. The audience is currently leans toward male and between 25 and 34 years old. Moms and other “mainstream” social media users have yet to embrace it. But I think it will get there. It’s already a much more complete package and with the peripheral integration of other Google products the outreach will continue to expand. Therefore I would think that early business adopters would benefit from growth on the platform.
-Most small business just don’t have the time to fully maintain two social media sites but I would recommend a presence on both of them. You will prioritize and focus on the one that hits your market or frankly, the one that’s easier to maintain. The other can be leveraged later when you have more staff, expertise or you’ve determined the sort of content you want to push out.
The most important thing to remember if you decide to add the “Like” or “Plus 1” buttons on your small business website is to be prepared with content to meet that customer’s expectations when they hit it. Wishing them a Merry Christmas in July will do nothing for your bottom line. A recent survey indicated that shoppers are very willing to share personal information in exchange for a more personalized or efficient experience. This makes it clear that social media isn’t just a one-way street. This is an opportunity to gather information about your customers that will enable you to tailor your products or services, offer short-term “deals”, or publicly assuage an unhappy patron that shows other fans that you take customer happiness seriously.
Regardless of which platform you embrace there is now a certain expectation for all online commerce to have a social media presence so embrace it, have some fun, inform and educate your customers and they will reward you with the kinds of interaction advertisers could only dream about just a few years ago. Make sure you join TTP staffers – Catherine and Lindy for the Facebook V Google+ showdown on February 17th.