Over the last few months I, along with many other marketers, have become convinced of the following in terms of brand marketing: Facebook is on the fritz, and Google Plus is set to grow.

It’s actually not that difficult to see why. There are some fundamental shifts that each platform is going through that make the writing on the wall plain to see. Here’s a look at them:

Facebook’s Content Issue

In a post by Facebook on August 6th they revealed that at any given time there are around 1,500 possible items to display in a user’s News Feed, while only about 300 can be shown. At 20%, I don’t like my odds! And the total number of posts is only going to grow as content and social media marketing are adopted by more and more companies.

Now, Facebook is doing what it can to display relevant content as much as possible, based on the following factors:

  • How often you interact with the friend, Page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted
  • The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular
  • How much you have interacted with this type of post in the past
  • Whether or not you and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post

These are all well and good if you are a larger brand that can get these for any post, but for up-and-comers or non-profit marketers that rely on the free platform it will be exponentially harder to grow a following.

To combat this, Facebook has been blunt in saying that brands should pay to boost posts. In all fairness, it's doing the right thing here – putting users first and advertisers second. If Facebook showed users all posts from all pages they have liked the News Feed would be crammed with brands and not friends, and it would be shedding users left and right. We haven’t yet been able to get data on the cost necessary to boost posts to pre-algorithm-update reach, but the fact remains: what was once free will now cost you.

Google Plus’ Advantages

With 300 million monthly active users vs Facebook’s 1 billion, Google Plus does not have the same content overload issues as its rival. Also, 300 million users and the fact that Google+ grew by 58% over the course of a few months last year should be enough to combat the idea that your potential customers are not there. At the same time, this kind of growth means that Google will eventually (and probably sooner rather than later) face the same problem we just knocked Facebook for, so why make the switch? Well, because Google+ is about more than just social media.

Background

First of all, let’s recognize that this is Google, the company that controls your highly valuable search traffic. If they build a social network, it’s probably a good idea to use it. Google’s goal is and always has been to show the most relevant, quality results. While their bots can get close on relevancy via keywords and semantics, there’s really no way to tell quality directly. Instead bots watch how humans interact with content and use that to rank pages, which is why backlinks are important in SEO. With Google+, the search engine can see much more about how people are interacting with you and your content.

Specifics

The power of this is explained very well in this video by Rand Fishkin at Moz:

When someone +1’s a page on your site, that page ranks higher on Google (not just Google+) for them and everyone in that person’s circles. This is extremely powerful stuff!

The Choice

To sum up, Facebook requires you to pay to reach all of your current fans. Google+ allows you to reach your followers for free, AND when they engage with content it can increase your rank in search results significantly.

Of course, if you already have an effective Facebook marketing program, we're not suggesting that you drop it. However, if you are seeing your results drop (and you probably are), it's time to shift effort to Google+. This is where we will be focusing much more effort in 2014 as well. If you’d like, follow us here: https://plus.google.com/+Crosshatchcreative