Google+ has quickly grown since its roll-out by Google in 2011. However, it doesn’t appear to be picking up the popularity that Facebook did rather quickly after opening to the public in 2006. Within a short period of time, Facebook had millions of users, with more than 800 million today. Analysts predict that Facebook will break the 1 billion mark in users within the next few months, and its gaining popularity around the globe, including in countries such as India and Brazil where Google’s Orkut has been the top social networking site to date. Thus, it appears that Facebook will be asking Google to step aside in several countries around the world.
However, Google+ definitely shouldn’t be written off by any means. But, it’s important to understand why Google+ is valuable to a local business, and for the most part, it’s because it’s owned by powerhouse Google; not so much because it’s a social network. Google has been the number one search engine for quite some time, and shows no signs of stepping aside for competitors. Because Google rocks at providing several useful tools to help local businesses market, track and grow their business, it’s wise for local businesses to take part and use these tools as they can all be integrated and work together; which means when you have a Google+ account, you have access to several Google tools that work directly with Google+, including Google Analytics, Google Ripples, Google+ Search, and more.
It means they need to clearly understand how each can have the most impact on their local business so they’re utilizing each effectively. If someone is putting in a lot of effort to gain more followers on Google+, or getting their Facebook followers to convert or join Google+, for example, then they might be wasting their time.
Because people (which translates to consumers for the local business owner) love Facebook, and the majority of them simply don’t want to take the time to learn and understand another social network. Why should they? They have Facebook, which is straightforward and easy to use and gives them the ability to connect with individuals and businesses around the world in an already accessible network.
So if your goal is to market and promote your business via social networking to get out in front of as many people as possible, then Facebook is probably the place you want to invest resources. With Facebook, you can tailor ads, your communications, etc. to focus on your target market, and Facebook gives you a great opportunity to market locally to a global audience.
On the flipside, if your goal is to boost search engine rankings to gain exposure and get found online, then Google+ and Google are where you want to be. Though Facebook can indeed help you boost search engine rankings when optimized correctly, Google+ gives you the power of Google and Google tools, such as Google Authorship, that can do wonders when someone is looking for you or your type of business in the search engines.
In summary, I recommend both Facebook and Google+ for local businesses to gain exposure, market and grow their businesses, but I also recommend they become familiar with each so they clearly understand how each impacts a local business so they can properly invest resources for each without wasting time and money.