September 16, 2015

Facebook Fights Google For Small Business Attentions

By Megan G.

Google and its rivals never cease to spawn entertaining news stories, as we saw with Lauren’s blog on the Apple Maps-Google Maps battle this past Monday.  However, though powerful and seemingly omniscient, Apple is not the only formidable tech company Google has to allegedly worry about.  There’s also the social media paragon, Facebook. 

The Wall Street Journal blog “Digits” recently featured an interview with two top names of Facebook, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Vice President of Small Business Dan Levy.  They spoke about how the social network is emerging as the definitive mobile platform for SMBs.  Does this threaten Google’s high-ranking status in the SMB and search industry?  Let’s take a look.

Facebook’s Claim in Small Business

Facebook already boasts 45 million active small business pages as of this month.  Though Google has not released any stats on the compiled total of verified GMB listings, a quick look at the search engine giants’ Let’s Put Our Cities On The Map initiative suggests the company is doing quite well in that department.  For example, Google has helped over 8,000 local businesses get online in Irvine, CA, alone. 

To make a case for Facebook, the site is the essential social network for social media marketing strategies.  There’s really no denying it.  FB is the most well-known and most accessible of all social media options (Sorry, Google+.  We’re still rooting for you!). 

COO Sheryl Sandberg says of her company, “If you can set up a Facebook profile, you can set up a [business] page… You don’t have to learn a new system.”  She also argues that Facebook, especially in accordance with Instagram, acts as the prime mobile location for small businesses.  “The world is going mobile” and Facebook provides an app and visual marketing platform (Instagram) that SMB owners don’t have to create.    

On the other hand, the downside of social media is the fact that you have to have, well… a sociable persona.  Businesses like restaurants, jewelry stores, and other visually-oriented retailers have little trouble advertising and reaching the right customers on Facebook.  Their products are fun to look at and their brands usually have the wiggle room to present personable face to their company. 

However, when you own something like a pump distribution company, social media posts can get dull pretty fast.  No offense to pump retailers.  It’s just a lot harder to take cute Instagram photos of your products. 

You could slap a cartoon face on this thing and have a Thomas the Tank Engine-esque character market your water pump brand... but is that a good idea?  
Image from China Valve Pump.

For the practical purpose of being found online, standard Search is still the most effective way for businesses to reach potential clients.  While Facebook has made strides to help people search on Facebook, Google remains the best way to find relevant links to a variety of different websites, including Facebook and everywhere else.

Google My Business Is Still In the Game  

Good ol’ Google My Business.  It’s no secret this platform’s services are lauded by the Tek Team.  Facebook might be easy to use and prevalent in our culture but, before you even get to a social networking website, you have to conduct a search.  Google is the search engine that leads the way to and connects all other forms of web experience.

If you have ever typed a business’ name into Google (and you probably have), a neatly organized listing pops up in the SERPs.  Sure, you might click on the business’ Facebook listing.  You may go to business’ Yelp page, too, or even the company’s official website.  But you used Google to get there and, often, all a web user needs is that tidbit of information that the Google Search Local Pack provides.

The Local Pack is made possible by a verified Google My Business listing, 
which shows your business in Search (as above), Maps, and Google+.  

In addition, there has also been slew of new features added with a recent Google My Business update, which you can read about here.

The app’s intuitive redesign makes managing Google My Business listings much easier for the average web user.  It also offers a better experience for businesses who want to market to local customersAnd, most importantly, the update makes using GMB easier on mobile devices.  

Take that, Sheryl!  Google’s still in the small business game, even on mobile!

“There’s no need to get hostile, Megan.” Image from Wikimedia.

As this article from Advertising Age says, Google must shift its services from desktop to mobile in order to remain a key player in the digital age.  From the Google My Business update to the Google logo redesign, the internet company has been taking great strides to optimize its services for mobile.  

This comes as no surprise, as new Google CEO Sundar Pichai was the accomplished VP of Google Products—including Android—before his promotion.   Clearly, one of Google’s focuses will continue to be mobile user experience.

Working on Mobile, Together

All this being said, both Google My Business and Facebook are undeniably important to a successful online presence.  As a business owner, you really shouldn’t utilize one without the other. I would go so far to say that the two platforms would work better in unison than they do against each other, in the same way that Google works with Twitter.  

In fact, yesterday, Facebook and Google actually struck a deal to help each other in mobile.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook worked with Google to create a new mobile web alert system: push notifications via Google Chrome.  As Facebook is generally thought of as one of the leaders in mobile relevance, the fact Google stepped in to help bodes well for Google’s future in the mobile tech environment.

Could this spell a new, beautiful friendship that matches the innovative developments of Google and the social influence of Facebook?  Only time will tell if these tech giants can play nice.

As a small business owner, what do you use to market your business online?  Let the Tek Team know in the comment section!  

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