What comes to mind when you hear the word “Google”? Do you think, search engine? Did you know it’s the most widely used search engine on the Internet? It’s five-and-a-half times more popular than its closest rival, Bing. Maybe you think of it as a place to look up a business on Google+ Local or do you think of Google Gmail, which is a very popular free email service? Perhaps you use Google to search for online reviews about a business or a product? How about using Google Maps for directions or Google Earth to get a real view of anywhere in the world? Do you watch videos on YouTube? Did you know YouTube is owned by Google?
Google has over 50 million businesses listed on its Google+ Local directory, each with extensive information about the business, maps and directions, hours of operation and many online reviews from real customers. Google even assigns a numerical rating — one to 30 (highest) — for each business , which is a mathematical calculation of all its reviews (minimum of 10 reviews). Google has tens of millions of customer reviews posted regarding the businesses listed on their site and they receive over 5.2 billion requests from people looking for information each day. They have over 500 million users of Google+ (their answer to Facebook).
It’s fair to say that Google is playing a big part in providing consumers with useful information about businesses, products and services. They are a serious player in the game for social media, Internet domination, a business’ online reputation and a whole lot more. Have you heard the rumors that Google is building/buying/developing a complete fiber optic network to offer to its subscribers?
Google took the ‘Build it and they will come’ approach
They have taken the approach of “Build it and they will come,” and have been quite successful with this approach. It’s apparent they have the largest collection of business listings and access to millions of online reviews from all the various social media sites. It’s a big business and there is a lot at stake.
Now, shifting focus, what comes to mind when you hear the word “Facebook”?
Some people might say it’s a place where a lot of people waste a lot of time. Most people would say it’s a community of relatives, friends, businesses and acquaintances all getting together in one place to share life’s stories, pictures and more.
Let’s take a look at some Facebook facts.
Facebook has over one billion users and over 665 million of them use it every day. There are over 50 million Facebook pages (businesses/athletes/celebrities, etc). There are over 150 billion Facebook friend connections, which means on average each person has 141 Facebook friends. How do you stack up against the average friend connections?
There are over 240 billion pictures posted on Facebook. Facebook has over 17 billion location-tagged posts. STOP — let me repeat that — there are over 17 billion posts on Facebook that have a specific location tagged in the post. These posts may be something as broad as a town or as specific as a place of business. They may even include the Facebook page of the business/place they have tagged. There are over two billion connections between local businesses and Facebook users. The average number of business pages viewed weekly is 645 million and there are over 13 million comments posted each week on local business Pages.
These statistics bear out that Facebook is the dominant choice for people communicating online with each other. Do you know who owns Instagram with its 130 million users? You guessed it, Facebook.
Open Graph: The newest offering from Facebook
Have you heard about Facebook’s newest offering, Open Graph? Have you used it? Facebook released an advanced copy in January 2013 to a select group of users, who tested, evaluated and provided feedback to Facebook, who then tweaked Open Graph and has recently released it to users whose default language is U.S. English.
The premise behind Open Graph is simple. If you are looking for information about a business, product or service, why not ask your network of friends? Open Graph automatically searches throughout the postings of friends and friends of friends for all kinds of information. Do you know how powerful the recommendation from a friend is? People trust a recommendation from a friend 92% of the time. So imagine the power of searching the Facebook network for a dinner recommendation in a town you might be visiting and getting firsthand comments from your network of friends/friends of friends.
How about searching that same network for a local business to find a place to buy new tires or auto service? Friends listen to friends. Imagine if a negative experience is posted by these users about a particular business or product.
I hope you are getting the picture of how powerful this Facebook Open Graph can become.
Facebook took a different approach than Google. They didn’t build the entire information database. They taught their users how to fish. They built the infrastructure and the users built the vast collection of valuable information by using Facebook as the tool.
The results are clear; it has become the most extensive site on the Internet for people communicating with people and businesses about everything.
What does it mean for you?
So what does all this Google goop and Facebook fodder mean to you, the business owner? It means you best pay attention. To which one, you ask? Both!
With the extensive user communities in both camps, you need to establish your business presence on both. Claim your Google+ Local site and create your business Facebook page. Make sure you get positive reviews, experiences, Facebook “likes” and postings from consumers updated to both sites. You need customers to become raving fans of your business and share their satisfaction of your company on both Google and Facebook.
You may decide to ignore one or both, but the user communities won’t, especially if they have a bad experience. You can almost guarantee they will post it somewhere or worse, everywhere.
If you are proactive in your online reputation management, you might be able to intercept negative reviews before they post them to the world. You need to make sure you have the best possible online reputation.
It’s clear that Google and Facebook have declared war and are fighting it out in cyberspace for supremacy.
Which one will win out? In fact, will one of them win out? Can they both continue to dominate? Only time will tell.
If you want to see how far they both have come in such a short time frame, look back at my article entitled, “Claiming the top spot on social media” (MTD September 2012). So much has changed in so little time.
What will they think of next? Maybe they will invent eyeglasses that will display text messages and show Google reviews or Facebook graphs?
Meanwhile, I recommend, as a business owner, you need to pay attention to both and make sure you are participating fully in both. ■
As CEO and president of WECnology LLC, Wayne Croswell is a “complimentary technology advisor” for independent tire dealers. Croswell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 249-5530. See his website at www.wecnology.com.
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