Reach Winner = Facebook: Facebook currently has over 800 million members compared to 50 million people using Google+. Facebook has had years to grow its audience, so creating a Facebook Page gives your small business instant access to a huge audience. Of course, Google+ membership will surely grow, but waiting for Google+ to compete with Facebook on size alone will take some time. Google+ needs to offer a significantly compelling reason to convince people to switch from Facebook to Google+ or we’re unlikely to see a large migration anytime soon.
Targeting Winner = Google+: On the other hand, Google+ offers Circles, which enables small businesses to categorize their connections and send targeted messages. Facebook allows users to block friends from seeing specific updates and provides the ability to create lists for targeting, but neither of these features are as good as Google+ Circles.
Apps and Administration
Apps Winner = Facebook: Facebook is superior to Google+ due to the huge number of third party apps that have been created to enhance the Facebook experience. Small businesses can add storefronts to their Facebook Pages, promote and accept RSVPs to events, and so much more. Google+ is far behind in this area.
However, Google+ does offer Sparks, so small businesses can track real-time conversations happening about their businesses, industries, and so on. Similarly, Google+ trending topics enable small businesses to stay on top of hot topics and get involved whenever topics match their industries.
Administration Winner = Tie: Facebook Pages can be transferred from one owner to another and multiple admins can manage the same page. With its recent update allowing multi-admin support, Google+ has evened the scales with Facebook when it comes administering Pages.
Promotional and Advertising Opportunities
Promotional Winner = Facebook: There is no comparison between Facebook and Google+ for promotional and marketing opportunities. Simply stated, Google+ does not allow promotions or contests of any kind to appear on Google+ Brand Pages. Facebook not only allows promotions and contests for Facebook Pages, there are also many apps that make it incredibly easy to create, launch, and track contests, discount programs, special promotions, and much more.
Advertising Winner = Facebook: Facebook Ads also offer a way for small businesses to advertise directly to targeted Facebook audiences. To date, Google has not integrated Google AdWords ads into Google+. Such an integration will probably happen in the future, but right now, there is no way to advertise on Google+.
Analytics Winner = Facebook: Facebook offers its Facebook Insights analytics tool to Facebook Page admins, which provides data related to traffic, content, and more. Google+ does not yet offer any form of deep analytics data for Brand Pages.
It’s a safe bet to assume that Google Analytics will eventually be introduced for Google Brand Pages. Until that time, the Google+ “Ripples” feature is the only tool that provides any kind of help in tracking Google+ Brand Page performance. Using Google+ Ripples, you can see who shared specific posts that you published to Google+ (including influencers) and review a “sharing timeline” for your post.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization Winner (Long-Term) = Google+: Google is the most popular search engine in the world. Already, Google has integrated Google+ into its search algorithm by placing a brand’s Google+ Brand Page at the top of brand name search results. Furthermore, the Google+ Direct Connect search feature makes it easy for people to find a Brand Page on Google+ simply by adding “+” before the brand name in the Google search box. The growth of the Google +1 button further signifies that Google is making a big effort to gather social data and make it part of its search results algorithm.
Facebook content is already included in Google search results, but Facebook does not provide social signals data to Google to use in its search algorithm. It would be extremely surprising for Google not to place greater value and emphasis on Google+ results vs. Facebook results in the future. Therefore, even if you choose to focus your marketing efforts on your Facebook Page, you should still create a Google+ Brand Page to ensure you secure the top Google search results for your brand name.
What’s your preferred platform for small business marketing — Google+ or Facebook? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Susan Gunelius: Susan Gunelius is a 20-year marketing veteran and President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She has authored nine books about social media, content marketing, branding, copywriting, and blogging, and she is a marketing columnist for Forbes.com and Entrepreneur.com. Susan speaks about marketing, branding, and social media at events around the world and is often interviewed about marketing topics by television, online, print, and radio media organizations.