Just the other day, I spoke about what I thought was particularly good about Google+, the relatively new social platform which has been launched by Google. I spoke of it's rapid increase in subscribers and also of how I see Google+ becoming as successful - if not more successful - than Facebook.
What it came down to was how well Google+ can implement its eagerly anticipated business profile feature. Many individuals have invested substantial time building a social profile; connecting with hundreds of friends and uploading every last bit of information about themselves, to Facebook. It's going to take a lot for Google to persuade the millions of Facebook users to migrate across to Google+ only to do it all again (uploading photos, videos, profile information and finding friends to connect with), which led me to suggest that perhaps Google+ should, at least initially, focus on attracting businesses into its ranks.
Businesses need to react quickly to the changes implemented within the search engine algorithms, and if there is even a suspicion that Google will use Google+ data to help rank business listings, then every business should be rushing to create a profile of their own. That is, once the Google+ Business Profiles have been officially launched.
With its dominance over the search industry, Google could, technically, decrease its use of Facebook and Twitter data, in favour of its own social data. Whilst there are certain features which rely upon the data provided by other social networks (such as Google Realtime Search - which should be back with us shortly after a brief absence), Google has the power, position and therefore influence to really put the pressure on the other social networks and the businesses using them.
Shortly after posting my original blog, many have been reporting a number of issues with Facebook; issues which could cause problems for your business. The Google team must be laughing with joy - the timing could not be better.
Local Business Pages not attracting Local Fans
The first issue Facebook is experiencing is that local businesses are not attracting local fans. Statistics suggest that only 15% of fans on the average small business Facebook page are actually local to the business they 'like'. Whilst a 'like' or some description is better than no like at all, it does go to show that the categorisation of businesses is not particularly helpful at this stage, and this sometimes forces businesses into using Facebook Ads. Many consider Facebook Ads to be either expensive or unable to generate new business, which means business users are likely to draw a line under this advertising option.
With Google's success with Adwords, there is sure to be an advertising option introduced to the Google+ social layer, which could provide a more cost effective solution than Facebook advertising does.
Distrust and privacy issues
Since its inception, Facebook has been plagued by privacy issues and distrust. Many people feel uneasy when it comes to Facebook sharing all the personal information individuals upload about themselves. Users rate Facebook lower (in terms of trust) than many other sites, and Google will know this. The search giant should therefore be pulling out all the stops to ensure that its social layer is secure.
Brand damaging messages
When visitors navigate to your Facebook Page, they may be confronted with automated messages from Facebook suggesting that they should temporarily switch to a regular connection (http) in order to view/use your application. In doing so, Facebook could be damaging your brand by suggesting to your potential customers, that your apps aren't secure - which may lead to a certain amount of distrust.
So what should you do?
Regardless of whether Facebook is becoming less popular, there are still millions and millions of users out there, just waiting to engage with your brand online. It's too early to neglect Facebook - partly because Google+ has yet to release its business offering.
Keep working with Facebook, but remain aware that Google+ is sure to be huge. As soon as Google+ Business pages are released, jump on the bandwagon and get creating. Alternatively, let us know what you need - we'd be happy to start managing your social media.