Google vs. Facebook: What Your Business Needs to Know

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Google vs. Facebook: What Your Business Needs To Know

Two emperor-warriors, each restlessly probing for the other’s Achilles’ heel. Brilliant field commanders and generals, making sacrifices and sometimes falling in battle. A recently deceased king, with a potential power vacuum left in his wake. Is it Greek history? No – it’s Silicon Valley, with their own epic story of the Clash of the Titans. It’s Google versus Facebook, Page versus the Zuck, search versus social media. It will be a great story one day for history books and memoir writers; in the meantime, as marketers we need to know how to work with both of these superpowers without offending either.

Google vs. Facebook: Two Competing Paradigms for Gathering Information

Google and Facebook represent far more than two powerful companies fighting for market share. Rather, their two business models represent two dramatically different paradigms of what the Internet should be or should evolve into. To understand these two paradigms, it’s helpful to briefly review the life stories of the two emperor-warriors of the online world: Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg.

Larry Page is a computer scientist and math guy with two computer scientist parents. He visualized the Internet as being one huge graph, and with his fellow Stanford Ph.D. student, Sergey Brin, Google became the ultimate calculus equation. Google’s strength still lies within the mathematical precision of its algorithms.

Then there’s Mark Zuckerberg, eleven years Page’s junior. Whereas Page was the son of two computer scientists with one older brother, Zuckerberg was the son of a psychiatrist and a dentist and grew up surrounded by three sisters. Though the book Accidental Billionaires would later portray Zuckerberg as a cold-hearted, socially isolated computer geek, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Computer geek, yes, but socially isolated? Zuckerberg was a frat guy planning to double-major in computer science and psychology before he dropped out to pilot Facebook. He is, and always has been, a very smart, very geeky, but also very social guy.

Zuckerberg and Page’s orientation towards gathering and parsing information are reflected by their two different inventions. Page created a mathematical formula to sort that which was worth knowing from that which was not. Zuckerberg, the computer geek frat guy, created something totally different – a way to sort what was worth knowing from what was not based on what your buddies thought. For Page, the Internet was a fascinating robot, a machine. For Zuckerberg, the Internet was a newly discovered life form, a living, breathing, ever-evolving organism.

Google Plays Catch-Up

It turns out that other people like Zuckerberg’s paradigm of what the web should be. Like the Blob, Facebook has spread itself relentlessly across the web, quietly oozing into places like Yelp, Spotify, and on every blog and news media site known to man. Its presence is now inescapable; as a result, many of its 800 million users spend more time at Facebook than at any other corner of the online universe.

Just as Microsoft realized it had miscalculated the importance of search and tried desperately to catch up with Google, Google is now in the position of desperately trying to catch up with Facebook when it comes to social media. The new Google+ is trying hard to grab a bigger piece of the social media pie for Google and is proving that Google hasn’t become so big that it can’t still evolve.

While Google+ might just give Facebook a run for its money, Facebook launched its own set of aggressive changes at its recent f8 developers event. From the new timeline feature, to verbs other than “Like,” to relegating uninteresting bits of news to the ticker, the f8 event sent a tidal wave of changes across the social web. Just when it thought it was gaining on Facebook, Google+ is once again two steps behind.

Three Takeaways for Your Business

Those of us who rely upon the might of Google and Facebook to market our products and services may not care who ends up as Silicon Valley’s undisputed ruler; we mostly just want to know how to use the two companies’ battle spoils to boost business. Here are three takeaways from the Clash of the Silicon Titans that you can apply to your own marketing:

1. Zuckerberg’s paradigm is probably going to win, but that doesn’t mean that Page’s paradigm is going to go away. Search and social media are eventually going to live in symbiotic harmony. For the foreseeable future, we will continue to use Google as the primary means to look up phone numbers, get directions, find the closest pizza joint, and learn the final score of last night’s football game. However, once we click on the pizza joint’s site or visit our favorite football blog, we’ll immediately see which of our Facebook friends have already been there and we’ll be influenced by what they have to say about it. Who finds your content is now just as important as – and influences — if your content is found in the first place.

2. Pay-per-click is still best left with Google, but not for much longer. At the moment, Google is poised to conquer a whopping 41% of the US online advertising market. This is still one arena where Facebook is playing catch-up to Google. However, they are catching up fast. Ad analytics are still stronger with Google, but Facebook has social media and word-of-mouth on its side. For the time being, ROI with Google’s AdWords is stronger, but sharing your PPC budget with Facebook isn’t a bad idea.

3. Online video will be a field commander in both armies. Google owns YouTube; Facebook shares videos. With the new f8 changes, videos are weighted more heavily than other types of content, meaning that a video you upload is more likely to make it into your fans’ news feed. Whether you’re trying to dominate the search engine results page or get your message to spread on Facebook, online video will be an increasingly important part of your efforts.

This war between Google and Facebook probably isn’t going to end in a clear victory for either side. For now, Facebook will continue to rule social media, but Google will continue to rule search. While we still need both, as a marketer, you can’t afford to neglect either one. Caught in the middle of these Titans, make sure you are paying due homage to each — unless you want your business to become collateral damage.

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Facebook Sun Sinking? Twitter Star Rising?

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Here’s today’s Facebook / Twitter riddle: What number do you get when you combine the populations of the states of Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Kansas, and Kentucky? Answer: Seventeen million, or the number of Americans who use Twitter (Source: ConvinceAndConvert.com).

Granted, proponents of Facebook scoff at the number 17 million; after all, Facebook boasts 500 million users, making 17 million look like a very small number. Meanwhile, social media experts like to complain that despite the number of Twitter accounts, many of them are not considered “active” like Facebook. They are accounts held by people who rarely tweet. Twitter and Facebook and the Egyptian Crisis Some have even claimed that Twitter was strictly a 2009 phenomena, and that Twitter is entering a long, slow decline that will eventually lead to its extinction as another internet species that just didn’t work out. (Friendster, anyone?)

However, Twitter is paying no attention to the naysayers; it is continuing to grow and continuing to prove itself a relevant part of the social media landscape. As one example of its relevance, residents of Egypt and other countries in the Middle East have been using Twitter to quickly disseminate information about the Egyptian crisis and general political unrest there (Source: Mashable.com).

Twitter naysayers might also be interested to learn that Twitter activity is growing, while Facebook activity is falling off. In recent months, Facebook has faced a 22% drop in time on the site per person, per day. Facebook has also seen a 26% drop in uploaded photos per month (Source: Blog.Hubspot.com).

In February 2010, Twitter hit 50 million tweets per day. In September 2010, that number had risen to 90 million tweets per day. In January 2011, Twitter reached 110 million tweets per day, with 200 million registered accounts.

Twitter’s growth isn’t limited just to the United States, although certainly Twitter usage continues to rise overall in the US (especially in western states – see the Hubspot link above). Just recently, Twitter added Korean to the languages users can tweet in, and as a result they experienced a 3,400% increase in Korean language tweets in 2010 (Source: Forbes.com). Twitter is also rapidly gaining ground in Japan.

New accounts, tweets, and languages aren’t the only signs of growth at Twitter. In an era where even Silicon Valley is experiencing massive layoffs, Twitter actually doubled the number of its employees between December 2009 and December 2010 (Souce: Forbes.com).

For Businesses, Twitter Followers Might be Better than Facebook Fans

The statistics mentioned above aren’t the only ones marketers should pay attention to. Even though they may not be tweeting about it, Twitter users are following brands far more rabidly than any other social media users. Consider that 49% of Twitter users follow companies or brands, but only 16% of social media users overall follow companies/brands. In fact, people using Twitter are three times more likely to follow their favorite brands with Twitter than Facebook users (Source: ConvinceAndConvert.com).

A report by ExactTarget reveals even more interesting differences between Twitter and Facebook users when it comes to interacting with brands. Here are a few of their findings:

• 37% of Twitter users say they are more likely to purchase a brand after becoming a follower, versus 17% of Facebook users
• 33% of Twitter users say they are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a follower, versus 21% of Facebook users
• 49% of Facebook users said they were not more likely to purchase a brand after becoming a fan, and 47% said they were not more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan
• Daily Twitter users were twice as likely to purchase a brand than daily Facebook users

(Source: eMarketer.com)

Twitter may become more popular than Facebook thanks to Smart Phones

Expressing yourself with 140 characters or less is especially convenient when you’re using a phone to do the expressing. With small screens and still maddeningly small letters, not to mention the occasionally annoying predictive text, the less you have to write with a mobile device, the better.

As more and more people turn to their mobile devices, tablet computers, and smart phones as one of their main sources of internet access, expect Twitter usage to grow even more. Already, 63% of Twitter users are accessing social networks through their phones (Source: ConvinceAndConvert.com). Since smart phone sales are expected to dominate the mobile device market in 2011, Twitter is likely to also win big.

Facebook fans: Don’t Leave Twitter Out

Although more than half of Twitter users don’t tweet themselves, this doesn’t mean they’re not reading the tweets of the people or businesses they follow. As the numerous statistics above show, average Twitter users might not be contributing much to the conversation, but they are certainly listening in.

Marketers and business owners should keep this in mind when they consider which social networks they use to actively promote their brands. With Mark Zuckerberg on the cover of Time magazine, it might be easy jump on the Facebook bandwagon and forget about Twitter. Instead, Facebook marketers should reconsider their Twitter strategy and figure out how to get the most out of each 140 characters.