Jan 11 in Digital Marketing Written by: Heather Rast
In November, Google launched a competitive product to Facebook’s Fan Pages, called Google+ Brand Pages. Companies can set up Brand Pages to connect with customers and affiliates in the same way that they can with Fan Pages.
Brand Pages and Fan Pages, at least in appearance, are incredibly similar. They both feature a primary image, a row of images, a collection of fans/followers, and a stream of updates that can be commented on or shared by those who visit their page.
Which is better? Is there a benefit to having both? Let’s compare the two.
1. Usage and Adoption
There are still more Facebook users than Google+ users. Depending on the brand, it’s very likely that the bulk of the fans are going to be located on Facebook. Undoubtedly, this reality will affect the time and effort placed on building up a following on Google+.
See the Southwest Airlines example below. As of this writing, Southwest had been on Google+ for over a month, and had gathered just 482 plus 1’s and was in 187 people’s circles. Meanwhile, over on Facebook, the brand is at 1.74 million fans. That’s a massive difference.
Engagement will be determined primarily be usage and adoption. The more people that have a brand in their circles on Google+, the more likely there is to be engagement occurring on a page.
For example, Mashable.com, an online publication that is focused largely on technology and social media, is one Google+ brand page where you will find a fairly consistent pattern of engagement. It’s still less than their Facebook engagement level, but it is there and growing.
One area where Google+ Brand Pages potentially outshine Facebook Fan Pages is with the Direct Connect feature offered to brand page owners. Google created this feature to allow users to add a + to the end of their search query to find Google+ pages that are relevant to their search.
The obvious drawback is that many users may not know that the Direct Connect feature exists, so brands will need to rely on Google to help promote this feature if they are to benefit from it.
One other current drawback of Google+ Brand Pages is the confusing, long URL problem that Facebook Fan Pages had not too long ago, before the ability to customize the Fan Page URL. It may be in the pipeline, but offering brands the ability to create custom URLs for their pages would be a nice feature to have, as it allows brands to use the URL everywhere and make it easier to fans to connect.
Both Facebook and Google+ offer sophisticated ways in which a company can analyze their own influence in the social network and the measurement tools are not significantly different. Both services offer enough measurement tools to allow a brand account holder to understand how and when their content is being spread throughout the networks, and both offer API integration capabilities.
Google+ Brand Pages is still in its infancy, and has not caught up yet to the demographics reporting that is useful for Facebook Fan Page owners, but according to their website it is well on its way.
Result: Social Networks are What You Make of Them
Ultimately, social networks are created by the users, in this case, the brands. Brands that go out of their way to build up and promote a Google+ brand page will do well there, and eventually it will have some nice search engine benefits, plus all of the unique features Google+ has to offer to profile users.
There is no clear winner. As shown above with the Mashable and Southwest Airlines examples, it isn’t a matter of how large the brand is, but rather, what they are doing with Google+ and how familiar with Google+ their particular fans are to begin with.
At this point in time, it is probably well worth it for brands to be in both places, and then nurture the network that is most active/profitable as time goes on.
What do you think about Google+ Brand Pages? Feel free to share your thoughts!
This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for various online companies including one that provides shipment inspections.