Guest Article: Google+ brand pages Vs Facebook fan pages

Yashraj Vakil, COO, Red Digital, does a quick comparison between Google+ brand pages and Facebook fan pages and lists the points where both score over the other…

e4m by Yashraj Vakil
Updated: Nov 21, 2011 9:53 AM
Guest Article:  Google+ brand pages Vs Facebook fan pages

The battle has now officially begun and it is raging out there on the web. It’s the battle between ‘+1’s’ and ‘Like’. Marketers are rethinking their strategies; digital specialists are re-working on optimisations; social media enthusiasts are contemplating because Google+ brand pages has now officially gone public and is ready to take on the Facebook fan pages or perhaps not.

While the deliberation is on which platform is more effective or could be in the future and which one should be leveraged upon; a major contemplation for a brand is whether to be present on one or both. Being a marketer, digital media expert and a social media enthusiast myself, I couldn’t stop myself from latching on to Google+ brand pages and do a comparison.

Google+ brand pages look smart and trim, but not much different from Facebook’s fan pages. Since inviting various brands to try the business pages in July, and now when its gone public, Google has utilised its time well to integrate new features like Direct Connect, which not only amalgamates Google+ brand pages to both Google+ profiles and Google itself, but also allows anyone to jump straight to a Google+ brand page by searching for “+ [name]” in Google Web search. The better features of Hangout, Circles and live collaboration make it stand out from Facebook.

Google+ has the ability to target specific audience, especially through creation of circles. For example, Britney Spears on her Google+ page recently asked her followers to tell which country they belonged to, post which she created circles for the same and segregated them. Now she can share specific country related news only with that particular audience like a tour or some special initiative she is involved in, etc. This is a good strategy and will surely help marketers on focusing upon a particular segment of the audience, while you can do this on Facebook as well, it’s a little more cumbersome than Google+. However, the brand pages are still very post based; it lacks the interactivity required for target audience engagement. On the other hand, Facebook scores a bounty on these parameters. Whilst Facebook fan page scores over audience engagement, it is still cluttered and invites lots of spam, compared to Google+, wherein the users cannot post directly into, it also holds back the brand to attain its whole motive of going digital, that is, being customer centric, feedback appreciative and being one-to-one with its audience. However, that might change with more and more people starting to use Google+, after all, it is miniscule compared to the 800 million people on Facebook.

It will be interesting to see if Google+ makes its brand pages more attractive and better than Facebook’s fan pages in targeting streams and information to demographic subsets of their followers. In my view, the white background on the brand pages would be a great opportunity to create own skins, for instance, brands like Old Spice have on YouTube, and also providing more space for brand advertising and deals which, in turn, increases the prospects of the businesses to multiply on a single page and interact better with the audiences. Another innovation Google+ should try is an official application machine for the brands to assemble their own custom apps rather than the third party offerings on Facebook. As a digital marketer, for my client’s benefits, I would also like to see Blogger and YouTube channel integration onto the brand pages. Google Analytics are obviously integrated with into brand pages on Google+ and could prove vital for measuring traffic and growth.

Though Google+ has amassed about 43 million users worldwide, the traffic index since its launch has plummeted by about 60 per cent and the stats of users don’t matter if the network has lost its energy. There is no doubt that brands will jump on to this bandwagon, considering how gung-ho businesses are about social and digital medium, especially when it’s from Google. However, the situation is different because brands lapped up Facebook fan pages when users were buzzing about Facebooking! It would be interesting to see if with Google+ this would be the other way round. Another barrier with Google+ is that the mobile application is only developed for iPhone and Android users, which hurts the traffic index as a majority access the web and social networks through phone, especially in the urban markets. What Google+, however, is expected to do is boost SEO ranking of brands and hence, could be very fruitful for B2B brands, which is not possible at present on Facebook.

Whilst Facebook has certainly enjoyed the first mover advantage in the past, it’s too premature to say which of these will have an edge over the other in the near future. Facebook certainly has had an upper hand in terms of user numbers. Having said that, it’s not long before Google+ matches steps with that of Facebook’s fan page. It is for us to wait and see if Google+ tries harder in this war of the Titans!

(Yashraj Vakil is COO, Red Digital.)

 

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