Why Facebook Pages beat Google+ Business Profiles
Think before jumping on the Google+ bandwagon
By Tony Bradley | PC World | Published: 15:40, 11 July 2011
Google has asked businesses to refrain from jumping on the Google+ bandwagon just yet, and claims to be hard at work developing Google+ Business Profiles that address the unique aspects of a business on a social network as opposed to an individual.
Early speculation seems to trip over itself swooning about the benefits and advantages of these not-yet existent Google+ Business Profiles, but I don't share the enthusiasm. For example, some of my peers are of the opinion that Google+ Business Profiles will trump Facebook Pages as the preferred online destination for businesses with social network savvy. They list a variety of reasons for coming to this conclusion, but I find the logic faulty.
My colleagues, Ilie Mitaru and Elsa Wenzel, feel that Google's dominance of search makes Google+ Business Profiles a better bet. Their argument, though, seems to be based on an assumption that Google will favour its own services over other online resources, something I believe it is currently under an FTC antitrust investigation for.
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They also claim that Facebook has "no penetration into the search market" which ignores Facebook's close ties with Microsoft and integration with Bing, never mind the recent partnership between Bing and Baidu.
Productivity and communication
Google has a plethora of online productivity and communications services: Google Docs, Gmail, Google Chat, Google Voice, etc. Google+ and Google+ Business Profiles will ostensibly give Google an opportunity to integrate these into a cohesive whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Fair enough, but Facebook has Microsoft and Skype (soon to be one and the same). Facebook is already integrated with Microsoft Office Web Apps for productivity, and with Skype for video chat. I don't know the actual numbers, but I am fairly sure that Microsoft Office has a few more users than Google Docs, and my experience with Google Docs left a little something to be desired when trying to work in a Microsoft Office world.
Mitaru and Wenzel cite the Google Checkout payment system as a factor in favour of Google+ Business Profiles as an e-commerce platform. I see it as limited, and an opportunity for Google to lock businesses in to using Google Checkout.
My peers go on to point out that Facebook only offers e-commerce through third party tools like TabJuice, and paint that as a negative. The e-commerce landscape is much larger than TabJuice, including other vendors such as Payvment, and Facebook has e-commerce ties with both eBay and Amazon who are two of the biggest names in online commerce. The scope and variety of e-commerce options give Facebook the advantage.
Advertising and analytics
Google has a dominant pseudo-monopoly in online advertising to rival its dominant pseudo-monopoly of online search. Google AdWords, and the growing empire of Google online and mobile advertising services, are a force that businesses can't ignore. However, the points made by my peers only explain why Google AdWords will remain a tour de force, they don't have any relation to Google+ Business Profiles.
The same is true for Google Analytics. It is a great service and a valuable tool. It is more mature and has broader reach across the web than Facebook Pages Insights, but the Facebook Pages Insights offer tremendous analytics for all it is intended for: Facebook Pages.
Don't hold your breath
The article by Mitaru and Wenzel has some other questionable points. For example, it speculates that Google will simply integrate Google+ Business Profiles and Google Places, while Facebook is allegedly struggling to get businesses to merge Facebook Places and Facebook Pages to achieve similar synergy.
I don't doubt that Google will just do that, which is part of what makes Google+ creepy and undesirable. Google will take bold liberties in merging and integrating services whether you like it or not, while Facebook leaves it up to each business to merge services, or grant permission to third party services on a case by case basis.
Facebook has the audience with over 750 million users. Facebook has services in place equivalent to virtually everything Google can throw into Google+, some of it just needs to be tweaked or repackaged to shift the focus. If there are gaps, Facebook has can form partnerships and alliances as it has done with Microsoft, Skype, Amazon and eBay.
From a business perspective, Facebook Pages trumps Google+ Profiles because businesses are already invested and established there. Facebook also has an advantage because of its close ties with Microsoft. Google+ is impressive on some levels, and it will most likely be the primary competitor for Facebook for the foreseeable future. But don't hold your breath waiting for Google to crush or trump Facebook any time soon.