Google+ Communities: The Last Nail in Facebook's Coffin

J.C. Kendall
J.C. Kendall CEO, TekPersona Corporation

Posted on December 9th 2012

Google+ Communities: The Last Nail in Facebook's Coffin

Google+ Communities | TekPersona

On September 2011, Mashable published an article titled “Why Facebook Will Never Charge You to Use It.  Here is Why”.  The article was a response to a viral “hoax” that was spreading across the internet that Facebook intended to charge users to use its new profile.


Facebook responded to these rumors with the following statement on the 25th of the month, putting an end to all the speculation:

“A rumor on the Internet caught our attention. We have no plans to charge for Facebook. It’s free and always will be.” 

Facebook Promise

 Okayyyyyy….


Back in March of 2012, Facebook reported that on average only 16% of Facebook Brand Page posts were read on average by the fans of those pages.  For all the money spent on Facebook advertisements, they resulted in a CRT (click-through-rate) of 0.051%. Businesses howled, but they stayed, and they paid. In May of 2012, Facebook began allowing business to “Promote their Posts” after killing off the previous “Reach Generator”,  a program that GUARANTEED at launch that it would reach 75% of Facebook users that had liked a Brand Page, but only produced an average of 16% reach.

Again, users and Businesses howled, but they continued to stay, many agreeing to pay large sums to reach their audiences each day.  The complaints were growing, but remained a murmur until one celebrity noticed that his reach was not growing but falling, although he was posting updates on Facebook on a regular and growing basis.

A Temporal Rift in Facebook

In June 2012, fed up with what he concluded as Facebook blocking his ability to reach his huge audience of Facebook fans, George Takei  of Star Trek fame contacted Facebook about his concerns, and was told “buy more promoted posts.”  Takei watched his reach dwindle while the number of his posts remained the same, and decided it was due to EdgeRank, the Facebook algorithm that determines who gets to see a user’s updates.

That’s right, you read correctly, Facebook determines who sees users posts, not the users and you get to pay for this!   In June, George Takei established a profile on Google+, where 100% of his messages would be available to his friends at zero cost.  

In October, after Facebook stocks had been pummeled all summer by bad earnings reports, Facebook officially announced that “Promoted Posts” would be expanded to all users, at a minimum cost of $7 to post an update that would reach 100% of a targeted audience or group. I have spoken with people at NASA, which has a very large following on Facebook. They are paying upwards of $7500.00 PER POST, to reach 100% of their audience. May I remind you that you fund NASA through your taxes? You are being charged by Facebook to hear from an organization that YOU fund.

Note: To those who have not yet used Google+, all posts, no matter how large the audience, are free of charge to 100% of your followers. 

WHY DO THEY STAY?

When I talk to businesses about why, in the face of such dismal advertising returns, they are still concentrating their Social Media efforts on Facebook, the answer is the same, about 90% of the time:  Facebook Groups. 
Businesses on Facebook have come to rely upon Groups to create and maintain specific audiences from which they can focus their communications efforts. It is easily the most effective tool Facebook has for matching Businesses with potential customers.

Facebook Groups represent a place for organizations and individuals to share their common interests, express their opinions, share related content and coordinate activities related to a common cause. 

Despite the current dissatisfaction many businesses feel regarding Facebook essentially holding their potential customer information hostage under Edge Rank and promoted posts, many businesses  viewed Groups as being effective at the very least in creating a commonality between a business and its curated audience. 

A business or organization of any kind did not have a competing option in most cases. Businesses want to be where their customers are.  With 1 Billion users, many business owners and managers assumed there was no alternative to remaining on Facebook and paying to erractically reach 5-15% of their audiences through promoted posts.
But no more…

Do you feel lucky, Punk? Well do ya?

On December 6th2012, Vic Gundotra announced the creation of Google+ Communities.

 

Upon reading a few posts about Communities followed by the official blog post from Google, I returned to my own Google+ Stream, and announced “The Game is Over.”

What if I told you there is now a place where all those things you did from your Facebook Groups to develop a relevant and interested audience for your business, could be done easier, smarter, more effectively, and free of charge?
Google+ Communities, because of the added services available to Google+ Users and integration with all the other benefits of the Google infrastructure, simply blows Facebook Groups out of the water.

There are four types of Google+ Communities available:


Two are private Communities, and another two are Public.  Anyone can join a Public Community and create posts, leave comments on others posts, share images and video, join a Hangout.  The owner of a public community has the option of leaving the community unrestricted, or can make community membership subject to an invitation, or approval from a Community Moderator.

Here is the kicker:  All of the content from a Public Google+ Community is indexed, and discoverable through Search on both Google and Google+. This is something that Public Google+ Community Moderators need to consider when creating their destinations.

For Businesses and Organizations wanting or needing to maintain a level of real privacy, there are two options for Private Communities as well. Private Communities can be restricted to its invited members only, but remaining discoverable by search.  Or, a fully private Community can be created, similar to a private YouTube channel, where it can be found only by knowing the specific URL of the Community.

Meanwhile, frustration continues to mount against Facebook for the practice of charging its members to communicate. One member of a Non-Profit group recently expressed his concerns in an open letter to Mark Zuckerburg.

Example: Consider the implications for a Non Profit, or Charitable Organization on Google+, as opposed to Facebook:
Any organization can create a Google+ Community that is open and available to anyone without an invitation necessary.  To get the word out, all the moderator needs to do on Google, is share their Community to the Public Stream, which will inform not only 100% their circled followers,  but the announcement is now part of the worldwide Google Index, and available through a keyword search, along with the content of every post, every image, every video.

Contrast this with Facebook, where after a Facebook Group is created, the moderator now has to determine whether or not they wish to pay.  The price is determined by the number of Facebook friends who might see it, in order to reach 100% of their audience.  Consider that this is true not only to announce the Group, but the organization must also pay for EVERY update (promoted post) they make during the lifecycle of the Group’s initiative.

For any Business or Organization with their eyes on the bottom line, the choice is clear. You can spend your  budget on managing and performing your daily activities from a Google+ Community,  with its various ways to allow users to either see you or find you, or you can devote a chunk of your resources to paying Facebook for the right to let all of your friends know what you are doing, with no guarantee of a decent CTR result.

If I were a decision maker for an organization migrating from Facebook to Google+,  I may pay to send a single promoted post to my Facebook friends and followers, to let them know that my charity drive now and for the future can be found  now be found on Google+.  But, if my Facebook friends have any problem finding my Community Based Charitable initiative, not to worry, because they can (duh) GOOGLE IT.

It is not as though someone cannot be a member of both Google+ and Facebook at the same time, so why would an Organization of any kind, pay more for much less on Facebook?  In addition, the SEO (search engine optimization) advantages of Google+ Communities cannot be overstated, along with the Google Authorship potential for preventing fraudulent association or duplication with your Google+ Community.

But…..there’s more!

Stop to consider just some of what Businesses can do with the various types of Google+ Communities:
Private Services, Public Services, open to the public, or by invitation only:

  • Business Coaching & Consulting
  • Customer Support
  • Specialized Training or Services
  • Business Networking, Partnering
  • Document Sharing from Google Docs
  • Focus Groups, Collaborative Services
  • Event Scheduling & Live Presentations

Do not forget, Google+ Hangouts can be scheduled by event and run from within a Google+ Community, with Hangout invitations sent to all members automatically.  Members of communities do not have to be within their community to share comments and information; they can post directly to their Communities from their public streams.

“But J.C., I can share files via Dropbox from inside my Facebook Group! I can’t live without that feature!”

On Google+, users can share files from Google drive both inside and outside their Google+ Communities.
Users can both link to and distribute documents of all kinds, and even HOST A WEB SITE from their Google Drive with JavaScript support built in.  Pow!

Google+ has a huge and thriving Photography community. Imagine how from within a Google+  Photography community, users can not only share files, but actually show and display an entire gallery of images from a single post linked back to Google Docs on that users Google Drive.

Suppose two (or up to ten) persons within a Google+ Community share an interest and want to speak RIGHT NOW to each other? They have the option of starting a video Hangout together, or should one of the two not have a web cam, use Google’s Voice services to place a free international call to the other person from within the hangout itself!  Did I mention FREE, and no limit to amount of usage?

Google, with the introduction of Google+ communities, has essentially matched or surpassed every level of functionality available on Facebook for a Business to develop its brand, and attract a growing number of followers to its audience.
The additional features of SEO, Authority, and Trust associated with a Google+ presence is a difficult thing to pass up, and I predict that the steady stream of Businesses building a Brand Presence on Google+ will soon, with the addition of Google+ Communities will soon become a flood.

“But, but, J.C., what if I want to place an Ad? I can do that on Facebook, but Google+ can’t do that for me.”

Well, in that case, I would direct you to my previous article; “Facebook: A waste of time for most advertisers”. My findings in that piece help to point out that Social Media is for Branding, not for Selling, which just happens to be the title of my next article. :-)

SUMMARY

I believe Google+ Communities will grow like weeds throughout Google’s Social Media and Identity Network.  Every one of Google’s tools either have been, or in the process of being integrated with Google+ for an unmatchable combination of service. After only two days of having Communities available, thousands of them have already been created.

Because Facebook has no public search engine, all content is confined within its forums. Facebook will not be able anytime soon to emulate what Google has done with SEO, Authorship or even Hangouts.  You see, the video performance of Hangouts cannot be duplicated without an associated fiber-network between datacenters like those Google has built.

Google+ users connect through this network, away from all of the latency adding routers, switches, repeaters that connect together the rest of the internet. Creating desktop video conferencing for up to 10, or (15 users with a paid Google Apps account) is basically impossible given today’s video compression standards.  Google has promised HD Hangouts in the not too distant future.  I would expect to see those first along Google’s Fiber rollout for users in Kansas City, MO.

If your business is struggling to pay for promoted posts on Facebook to grow or maintain an audience, you might want to give Google+ Communities a try. If you need help with that, I have it on good authority, that Communities have already been developed to help Facebook Businesses Migrate to Google+.

“Hmmm….I wonder who might have already created one of those….”

 

 

 J.C. Kendall is the CEO of TekPersona Corporation

J.C. Kendall

J.C. Kendall

CEO, TekPersona Corporation

J.C. Kendall is the CEO of the Tekpersona Corporation. 22 years as a Corporate Executive, Manager, Developer, Trainer & Marketer of Technology Solutions, and Technology Marketing & Sales. Application Developer, specializing in Microsoft & Google products and services. Direct & Current Experience in Social Media, SEO, and Distributed Services. Professional Coaching - Corporate Network\Data Security, Business and Web Analytics and Corporate Branding\Marketing\Outreach. Voted one the Best Google+ Users in 2011 by the Google+ User Community. My company's mission is the Optimization of Businesses. We teach Organizations how to make the most of Social Media, their Web Presence and Search Engine Optimization. We teach Businesses how to maximize their marketing, and develop strong and memorable brands. Specialties Corporate Branding, Social Media, Data Security, Software Development, Web Development, Online Marketing, Reputation Management, Media Training Services.

See Full Profile >

Comments

MarketingXLerator
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 3:25AM

Kendall:

what a great blog. Thank you and I agree on so many levels. And I can't say I am said.
I enjoy FB for private use but I applaud the consolidation Google is putting into place - one of the main challenges so far: too many disconnected places, passwords...rebuilding of connections etc.


Would you allow me to syndicate this blog to http://www.marketingxlerator.com with full accreditation?

Best,

Natascha

J.C. Kendall
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 3:38AM

Absolutely. Thank you! That would be great, but would you mind the linkbacks going here as well: http://www.tekpersona.ca/googlecommunities.html . That is the original from my own website. 

I am glad you liked the article. 

-J.C. Kendall

MarketingXLerator
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 6:12PM

Thank you J.C.,

the blog is syndicated here: http://www.marketingxlerator.com/2012/12/10/google-communities-the-last-...

Best,

Natascha

Graham Clark
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 7:01AM

Hi J.C.

What an interesting article! I have great faith in Google and have already setup a Google+ community. However, I can't seem to share files directly from my Google Drive to the members of my community. Has this feature actually been rolled out to all users? Or have I missed something?

Regards, Graham.

 

J.C. Kendall
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 7:20PM

It has indeed, Graham. I cant help you personally with your situation, but I can assure you that the feature is available to all. 

Paul Chaney
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 5:29PM

J.C., I truly appreciate your ardent advocacy for Google+, but does not the choice of which social network a brand uses - Facebook, G+, or LinkedIn for that matter - have more to do with whether or not their target market is there than whether or not advertising fees are incurred? 

Doubtless, the user base for Facebook differs from that of Google+ or LinkedIn. For large brands it may make little difference, but for smaller businesses - e-commerce merchants, for example - I'm not sure G+ is the better option if it comes down to either/or. (That time may come, of course.) 

Again, I appreciate your enthusiasm and am learning to appreciate Google+ more myself based on the points you make. I'm just not convinced we need to throw the Facebook under the bus just yet. 

MarketingXLerator
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 5:48PM

Paul:

you make excellent points. Target audience is the most important factor.

I have to believe though that G+ will now grow, that they have made it so easy for users to use services in connection with each other, without having to use multiple passwords.

My future bet is on G+, at least for B2B marketing,


Natascha

 

Paul Chaney
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 6:11PM

Natascha, that's my thinking as well. Whether I'm right or not, my perception is that, at present, use of G+ would trend more toward B2B than B2C. But, I could be wrong. I often am. :-)

J.C. Kendall
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 7:18PM

Unfair, Paul. 

I am an advocate for Businesses, not Google+. Were you to ask Vic Gundotra whether he considers me an advocate of his project, he might scream at you. What I do, is point out in my best opinion what is best for businesses, and I can say categorically, that it's not Facebook. 

I know a lot of people make a living teaching businesses about Facebook, and some do the same for Google, and Google+. I draw comparisons, and I believe that the Combination of EdgeRank, and what it represents for businesses as opposed to what it means to Facebook is a disconnect, pure and simple. 

What I suggest with this article, is that I believe that Google+ represents a better value for busineses, and that the primary reason many stayed with Facebook is due to Groups. If I am correct, and based upon the many thousands of Communities which have been created just over the past weekend, this represents a death-blow to Facebook from both a revenue standpoint, and on reputation.

The analysts that monitor Facebook will be looking at this with great interest, because unless Facebook finds an open Search solution, the outlook is indeed grim.

If you dont call me a Google+ advocate, I wont call you a Facebook defender. Deal? 

 

Paul Chaney
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 7:51PM

J.C., I, too, am an advocate for business, especially small business. Facebook, G+, LinkedIn, Twitter, the list goes on, are merely tools that help the businesses I work with achieve measureable goals. In that sense, to refer to me as a "Facebook Defender" is a misnomer. 

That aside, your point is well-taken and I do appreciate your insights. 

KurtUhlir
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 6:10PM

Do you have 3 or 4 examples of major brands using Facebook Groups? I've seen some SMB players use groups effectively but very very few major brands. Now, we all know the value and questions around reach for Facebook Pages...curious about Groups thought.

J.C. Kendall
Posted on December 10th 2012 at 8:32PM

Thank you so much!

Qnary
Posted on December 11th 2012 at 3:11AM

Google Plus communities are a great way to meet new people who share your interests online.  If and when you create a new community, keep in mind if you want it to be private or public; once you make the group you can't change the privacy settings.

Stephen Tamlin
Posted on December 11th 2012 at 10:10AM

Fantastic blog J.C, Very informative!

As a B2B marketer I tend to put a lot of time into twitter and LinkedIn, as my target audience is not on Facebook. Personally I do use Facebook, but am becomming slightly dispondant as it seems to be giving me more and more information that I do not want! As a user this annoys me, and as a marketer I wonder how affective Facebook is?

I need to spend more time with Google+, this article tells me this even more. If not just for the SEO benifits but also for the great features they have, like communities. I would have to say however, that it's not game over for Facebook in a business sense. They have a grapple on the teen demographic, to an extent that google+ maybe never will. If your audience is on Facebook then putting all your effort into Google+ is essentially a waste. Just look at Pinterest, has amazing comercial value, if your customers are on there, and has very little value if they aren't.

So as Paul mentioned, you need to find out where your potential and current customers are online and build a presence on those platforms. Whether that's Facebook, Google+ or even the smaller players like Soundcloud. I am very interested in Google+ though, I think it sits between Facebook and LinkedIn nicely.

J.C. Kendall
Posted on December 11th 2012 at 4:24PM

Thank you, Paul.

When you are on Google+, look me up! I have created a Google+ community specifically for Individuals and Businesses looking for information on migrating, and establishing their business presence on Google+ 

See ya there!

Troy Dempsey
Posted on December 12th 2012 at 9:42PM

Great article; informative and engaging.  I have to say though I felt as though it was a one sided argument.  Both sites have plus and minuses.  No time was spent on most people’s main concern of the low number of engaged users of G+.  What good is a megaphone in a desert?

A couple of points:

NASA like all government agencies have been paying to advertise across all platforms for a long time.  There is nothing different here with Facebook or anything wrong with it.  EdgeRank is used to prevent users from being overwhelmed with posts from companies which in essence is no different than a television station limiting the number of commercials seen during a program.  Just because George Takei wants to reach 100% of his followers doesn’t mean they want to be reached.  The key is high engagement by posting relevant and engaging content no matter what the platform.

Like you have said, social media is about branding.  A well done and maintained social media page with little or no money spent can be a much more powerful branding tool than thousands spent elsewhere.

J.C. Kendall
Posted on December 14th 2012 at 1:08AM

Thanks, Troy. I might surprise you in agreeing with you that the article leaned towards Google+. I tried to point out early on in the piece that Edge Rank was only what appears to be one of many attempts by Facebook to make money from users after claiming they never would. 

The article is actually a followup to my last one, about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising. I am an advocate for business, and the reason for my leanings is that Edge Rank (in my opinion) holds businesses hostage for the very followers they attracted.  

George Takei was never told that the people who friended him, were going to be filtered unless he paid for the priveledge of communicating with him. While he can likely afford to pay, he chose not to and came over to Google+ instead. I believe that the same will likely be the case for many businesses and individuals with large followings. 

Google Communities are not perfect, but they are certainly a better option (for SMBs especially) than paying. I really appreciate your comments, and my next article? Its about Branding. Look for it tomorrow. 

-J.C. 

Michael DeByl
Posted on January 18th 2013 at 11:14AM

You did infact surprise me with the above post.. Though still clearly reinforcing your G+ bias - you admit some blame in that regard, and for that I thank you.

Benji Hyam
Posted on December 13th 2012 at 10:50PM

I agree with you in some aspects of this post. For example- I don't agree with Facebook making brands pay to reach 100% of their audience. I do think Facebook is headed into a downward slope especially in regards to brand page, However, I do not think Google+ will be what takes Facebook down.

First of all... I think Google+ has a long way to go before they are even considered on the same level as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Google+ has a lot of users that are forced to use the platform when they sign up for a Google account but how many of the users are active on a daily basis? Very few. And i'm not talking about "active users" who are looking at a Google Places page or some other Google product that has been integrated into G+ so they can skew the numbers of their active users. What G+ lacks is the social aspect of the platform. The normal everyday person isn't using it... Google however does have an advantage because they can force marketers to use their platform because it weights so heavily on search compared to other platforms.They will have to make major changes to the platform in order to gain an active user base similar to that of Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.  I think that Google failed miserably with the release of Google+... and if Google wasn't the one who launched G+ it would've been scrapped a long time ago. But instead of getting rid of it because it isn't popular amongst the general population, they keep on finding ways to integrate their products into it to force adoption of an unpopular social network.

J.C. Kendall
Posted on December 17th 2012 at 10:13PM

I would strongly encourage you to investigate Google+ for yourself before making such sweeping comments. You are incorrect in too many ways to account for, but I thank you for your comments! 

lkinoshita
Posted on December 14th 2012 at 12:39AM

Well researched, good information. Sound advice. Great article!

 

HerbLawrence
Posted on December 14th 2012 at 3:03PM

Great article and guess I will have to take a close look at Google + Communities myself.  No wonder our very small businesses have such a difficult time figuring out if sites like Facebook are really worth their time...on the other hand trying to get some of our rural small businesses to go to Google + raises the "oh no another site"...  I run a small business development center in rural Arkansas as part of the Arkansas State University College of Business our clients are typically very small, have limited budgets or personnel and less time to stay up on all the changes that occur so they keep paying Facebook for those promoted posts or advertisments even though as you noted so few of their Fans get reached.  

For those who plan to stay with Facebook we will look into suggesting they look into Groups.  Thanks again

kzone7
Posted on December 14th 2012 at 5:47PM

I definitely think you make some interesting points about Google+ communities and why they are better than Facebook Groups. But, you don't have to pay for content in Groups to reach 100% of your audience. Pages, yes. Groups, no. Group members control their notification settings and receive notifications on everything by default (on Facebook and by email). I use Groups quite frequently and I wish we could switch to Google+, but we can't until more people start spending their time on Google+. Users are spending hours a day on Facebook, but we can't say the same about Google+. There are tons of great platforms out there with great features, but you have to go to where the people are. The people are on Facebook.

FeldmanCreative
Posted on December 15th 2012 at 5:00PM

You mentioned a coffin. So Facebook is soon to die? Uh, yeah, right.

Lots of good info on G+. Opportunistic and unrealistic headline.

J.C. Kendall
Posted on December 17th 2012 at 10:12PM

If you look at what it will take for Facebook to remain an independent entity in the future, instead of a division of Apple or Microsoft, they are already challenged in that regard. If vendors move away from Facebook in numbers (which is already happening) there will come a point where they will need to make a change if only to continue to retain key employees. 

I am not in the habit of making bold (not opportunistic or unrealistic) headlines, unless I believe them. Google+ represents the most serious threat to Facebook that they have experienced to date, and if today's article from HuffPo has the slightest bit of truth to it, then their future is worse than I describe. 

I dont have to post this twice, right? 

Thanks for your comments! 

FeldmanCreative
Posted on December 15th 2012 at 5:01PM

You mentioned a coffin. So Facebook is soon to die? Uh, yeah, right.

Lots of good info on G+. Opportunistic and unrealistic headline.

Michiel Gobes
Posted on December 17th 2012 at 4:08PM

Too bad you forgot one important thing about Google+. There are no real people/customers on Google+. Only online marketeers,businesses and advertisers who are forced to join Google+ to get Ad boosts. Even Google employees hardly use this so called social network. The best and most used social network is not dertemined by how advertiser friendly it is. Google+ will never become a real social network and will always stand in the shadow of Facebook and the next best social network. It doesnt even matter that Google forces Adwords users to make a profile on Google+ to boost their Ads, they will never become true users of the network. It's amazing that a company like Google, who always recommend pretotyping, won't pull the plug out of this epic failure of a network called Google+. If you dont appeal to users who want to dedicate their sparetime to having fun on your network and connecting with friends and family you realy dont have a network at all....... regardless of how many ad's you can sell on this network.

J.C. Kendall
Posted on December 17th 2012 at 10:08PM

Okayyyyyy...... Thank you for your comments! 

Cat Rambo
Posted on December 30th 2012 at 6:14PM

I found this article pretty useful. As a writer who's using social networking to sell books/classes and build brand, I was distressed by Facebook's changes and I've found it significantly less useful. I've experimented with a lot of the social networks and Google+ continues to have a lot of promise, as well as an increasing number of people, particularly internationally.

My main concern is using the time I spend on social networking efficiently. Right now my blog posts propogate to FB and then to Twitter, and I'd love to be able to insert promotion on Google+ into that chain.