Google+ vs. Facebook - What's the Difference

Google logo on glass building
Consider if Google+ is a worthwhile time investment for your business.. Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty Images

I've always used these descriptions when it comes to explaining all of the different social media networks:

  • Facebook - Network for Friends and Family
  • Twitter - Network of Strangers
  • LinkedIn - Professional Network
  • Google+ - A Collaboration of all of the above

There was a day when people would compare Facebook and Google. Obviously, there were major differences; Google was a search engine, Facebook was a social network.

However, now Google has entered the picture with Google+, their version of a social network. Facebook and Google+ have a few more similarities and now many are asking where they should spend their time.

The answer is easy - spend your time where you will get the most value. Let me see if I can break it down into a little "nuts and bolts" explanation.

The introduction of Google Plus, brought us the following:

You use circles to share specific things with specific people. You may not want your customers seeing the same things you post to a networking group. You can have a coworker's circle where you only share things with those you team up with or work with. This makes it a little easier to keep your business life and your personal life separate.

You can do this with Facebook, but you'll need to create those groups as list. This can be somewhat cumbersome, but it's a nice workaround.

Video Chat (Hangouts)
One feature that Google+ offers that I think is awesome from a business perspective is video chats.

You can have up to 10 people join you for a video chat, called hangouts. It's a great way to do a Q&A or even a product demonstration. I love the idea and many musicians are also using them to do performances and get the word out about their music. What could you do with video chat?

Group Chat (Huddle)
I'm not sure how this could play in your marketing endeavors, but it's nice to have the option in case you wanted to pull colleagues together to discuss a client or you could also use this as a Q&A without the video option.

Lots of opportunity here as well.

Sparks is one of my favorite features of Google+. You can not only share content with your users, but users that have created sparks that correlate with what you share can see that information. Sparks is a recommendation engine that Google has put together for Google+ users. Users can find information based on their interest easily.

Tired of all the clutter and noise? Tweak your Google+ streams to view them just like you want to see them. Select what circles you want to see in your stream and you are set.

Search Value
The research is limited, but we are already seeing bumps in traffic in search marketing when it comes to Google+. Using Google+ and tying it to your Google Profile, you will start to see some rapid spikes in search traffic. Many are seeing early indications that being active on Google+ will help with the visibility of your company and website.

It's important to realize that I'm not trying to sway any of you away from Facebook. If that's where your audience is, then by all means keep working it.

However, if you haven't seen a return on investment from Facebook, it may be time to evaluate where you are spending your social networking time.

Where to Spend Your Social Networking Time

Pick the network that works for you. When I say works for you, I mean it brings in some time of return on your time investment. When evaluating social media ROI for clients I always tell them to look at the following things to determine value:

  • Increase in website visitors
  • Increase of impressions
  • Positive press mentions
  • Click-throughs
  • Positive word-of-mouth mentions
  • Employment applications submitted to your business
  • Blog mentions
  • Increased followers through social media venues such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn

When you figure out which network gives you the best results from the items above, you know the network that works best for your business. Don't spread yourself so then that the work you put into it is ineffective. Find what works for you and invest in it - that's the key to social media success.

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