Why Google+ Is Better For Community Than Facebook

Why Google+ Is Better For Community Than Facebook

This is a guest post by Harrison Kratz, Community Manager at MBA@UNC.

It’s been about a year and a half since Google+ launched and while the debate still rages on regarding their overall impact on social and if it will contend with Facebook in the long run.

Google+ has had its growing pains and still has a long way to go in terms of becoming a thriving, social ecosystem that can compete for the masses’ online focus, but that doesn’t mean the platform isn’t there.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been using Google+ much more to learn about its features, the community, and its potential. Through this experimentation, I can fully say that the Google+ platform is better for community building than Facebook is. That isn’t to say that Facebook is going to lose its social media supremacy, this is just an analysis of the platform and how it allows brands, organizations, and individuals to fully engage with their community.

Here are some reasons why:

Hanging out is much more fun

Google+ Hangouts

Probably the crowned jewel of Google+, Google Hangouts has allowed individuals and brands to up the ante on communication and leverage live video in the public space. While video is still a very awkward communications barrier to many, Hangouts have put a huge dent in that mindset by creating a fun platform that screams COMMUNITY.

Brands can now host live chats with their community and create a two-way dialogue that we consistently crave for, but don’t exactly get with the other platforms. In the a space where brand trust is so important, being able to tell your story or share quality information through video is becoming a key component of keeping your community involved and excited.

Trust me, if you asked people what built trust more: a back and forth on a Facebook Wall or a live video chat where they were able to have a full conversation, it won’t be a contest.

Events focus on the before, during, and after

Google+ Events

Google’s events feature isn’t widely used yet, but it beats the pants off of Facebook’s. While Facebook’s event platform is great for getting the word out to your community, it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to actually building excitement or capitalizing on a successful event.

Google’s events not only help you get the word out, but they have a “Party Mode” where event attendees can add their photos form the event to the page in real time. Through this feature, you’re able to create engagement around the page before, during, and after the event when everyone goes home to see all the photos in that one place. The lifecycle of a solid event is anticipation, execution, and storytelling… Google has figured out all three.

Social needs to be local, and mobile.

Google+ Local

Google+ has recently launched their Local feature and app, allowing users to use the platform to find out what is around them, read reviews, and local businesses to engage in a social community. While this feature is new and the review system can be a bit confusing, this is a big step ahead of Facebook in the local market.

Facebook is a great way for local businesses to connect with their community, but doesn’t offer much for exploring what’s around you in real-time. Google+ Local allows you to do that, and as social becomes a layer on top of everything else we do, that presence in real-time is becoming increasingly important.

Now while foursquare and Yelp have a stronghold on the exploration market, Google has the user base and potential to create a social experience that both mobile and desktop users want to engage in – so, the potential is there for them to create their place.

As I said before, Google+ still has a long way to go to become a full Facebook rival, but the reach and platform is there. And while those in the social media space should continue to primarily focus on Facebook and Twitter because of their clear impact, Google+ has to be factored into that long-term vision. From a features standpoint and integration into our daily web use, Google+ is the best platform for community and real engagement that isn’t just spelled out in “Likes” and Shares, but a tangible brand experience.

Ultimately, I could be wrong and Google+ will never be the platform we need to engage with our community. But for now, explore the platform because it will make you a more creative and better communicator.

  • davidquaid

    I love that Google+ offers such seamless integration – I can use it on my phone, in my e-mail, in search, on web pages. I don’t have to visit G+ just to stay in touch. Google is rolling out features slowly – the core works – the Local/Zagat integration will just add further layers to it. With Google TV and Search and YouTube – its going to be a critical integrator between different services and news.

  • Great post! Here’s what I think.

    On one hand, Facebook seems better for building a community just because everyone is there. You can’t have a party if all your friends are at a different bar.

    Also, Facebook’s new groups, I find, are fantastic for establishing stronger relationships with evangelists. Udemy and HootSuite are doing a great job with that, and I’ve been successfully experimenting myself too.

    Now, on the other hand, I find that it’s easier to become a part of a small community than a big one. People in small groups are often more receptive and don’t filter newcomers out right-away. Also, there’s just less noise. And in this scenario, Google+ is a great place to be.

  • As soon as Facebook does a few more “upgrades” “enhancements” and other “improvements” that will alienate more users, G+ should be waiting in the wings to capture them… unfortunately, Google also subscribes to the “if it ain’t broke we’ll fix it anyway” mentality. Had Facebook stayed the user-friendly system it once was, I wouldn’t be making this comment, let alone reading this article!

  • Dave,

    I completely agree with on Facebook unnecessarily changing things up. Had they stayed the course, I don’t think this discussion would be remotely relevant, but with Google being able to create a network rooted in being social rather than revenue, it will be interesting to watch.

  • Which Facebook upgrades do you think alienate users?

  • Mike – you’re right, Facebook is definitely the place to be still because of the size of interaction and audience. And I LOVE the groups feature… unfortunately for Facebook, the actual community aspect doesn’t go much further than there as far as feature go.

    Google+ is doing a solid job in creating a way for users to publicly connect rather than private groups so it will be interesting to see if their features can chip away at the huge user gap.

  • I think it’s smart that they take their time in integrating into all of their features and make Google+ the social layer among all of their channels and products. And local is going to take time but will be a huge component to their integration into on and offline experience. An issue for Google is that Facebook is also rapidly integrating more features into external websites and they have a head start because of their size advantage in terms of active users.

  • Robert Jason Vogelman

    there seems to be a direct correlation here (for me at least)…. the more i hate facebook, the more i like g+

  • davidquaid

    I think if you’re going to build a network that shares statuses and updates and counts likes/shares – they’re going to use similar features. I don’t think Facebook can claim unique origin of source for all of their ideas – like video, photo, messaging. These were developed by iRC, Yahoo IM.

    The problem for Facebook and twitter as a platform which is easy to forget is that they can’t deliver to other clients because of the TiVo effect – their ads get dropped for the clients.

    Google has segmented marketing and advertising over on its search and content networks. It doesn’t have to monetise G+.

    Long, long road ahead. Do you like marathons 🙂

  • Does Google+ allow admins to run the local page as Facebook pages does?

  • Yes! You can add managers.

  • Harrison,

    I love this. I’m a big Google+ fan for community building. I tried to setup a Facebook page for my podcast, BlogcastFM and I couldn’t break through the noise. But on Google+ I actually have a conversation with people. Even if 1 or 2 people respond it’s much more valuable than no conversation. I haven’t tried the hangout feature yet but I’m sure I will.

  • Hey Srini,

    That’s interesting, with us it has been the other way around but lately Facebook has been getting harder with the latest EdgeRank changes. Also, I can’t say that I have been putting too much energy into Google+.

    At the end of the day, it’s dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket, specially if you have no control of the platform.

    Thanks for your comment, I hope you’re having a great week. I read on your Twitter that you guys are working on the interview with Greg, that should be interesting. Great guy.

  • I haven’t really worked on a Local Page but I assume you can, just as you do in a regular page.

  • Ah! I didn’t see your reply, thanks for clarifying that Bea. =)

  • Laura Carson

    Fabulous article! I preach the plus side daily. I do hangouts weekly, but this past weekend was my first event and I used the “party” mode. It was so cool to see pics in real time. Facebook will become the new myspace in due time. They are shooting themselves in the foot with the new rules for business pages they have which are ridiculous, and only a percentage of my actual friends show in my news feed. I’ve been on the plus side for about 8 months and I have no desire to leave!

  • Erin Howard

    I’m not a heavy Google+ user, but I agree that their features and functions are much better for community building. I love the way they put together circles, among other things. But here’s the thing – hardly anyone is my community is on it. Most of my clients (small local businesses, authors, consultants) barely know what it is. I have a few friends who are on it, but none of them really use it. Some bloggers and business people I follow on Twitter are on it and post some interesting stuff but I’m not there often to see it.

    I’m not writing it off, but it is just not on the radar in the circles I move in at all. I do think, because it’s Google and because it’s easy to use, it will become more of a force down the road, but for me it’s not there yet.

  • Great post, Harrison. I’ve been using G+ as my go-to source anytime there’s a tech announcement, as I know there’s a feverish community on there that will tell me everything I want to know even better than organic search can. I’m eager for more people to see the great community aspects to Google+ instead of worrying about numbers between G+ & FB today.

  • Great article. I really do like Google+’s features better than Facebook’s. My biggest challenge with it is building those who have me in their circles, but I guess it’s just a matter of working at it. Thanks for the great information.

  • seo

    Thanks for this informative post.

  • Hi Harrison,
    I was glued to the entire post, which is good for someone like me with a short attention span, loved it! : ) I’m fairly new to the social media world but I have to agree with you about Google+. Although I’m just getting the hang of it and growing my community, I have taken some time to look around and see all that’s available and it has motivated me to learn more and take advantage of them for the sake of my website.

    Maybe it’s because I don’t have a personal Facebook but my website’s Facebook has been a challenge in growing my Likes but I think Google+ will definitely give Faceook a run for their money!

    Thanks for allowing me to comment, have a great weekend.

  • professional copywriting

    does many things so much better than Facebook does and it isn’t so cluttered up
    with ads either. It is far superior when it comes to segregating your
    connections and has a more professional aspect to it than Facebook can have. It
    is really starting to be a bit like comparing apples and oranges to measure
    Google+ by Facebook standards.

  • Logan Merrick

    I like Google+ but I am yet to put in even a fraction of the time I do with facebook. May have to start transitioning… bye bye fb?

  • Hivo Del

    Since I moved to Google+. Step pleasant hours on it. I did not expect my friends change. It is an excellent network.

  • Fantastic Article. I’ve actually been testing Hangouts with a few clients as an extension of their business model.

    For Lisa Loop we are running “intimate” writing support groups. The Google Docs integration makes is live and easy to hop between different writer’s work.

    For TheFIlmSchool we are looking at running “celebrity” screenwriter panels via a Hangout. Free for those viewing the broadcast and a small fee for participants to ask the panelists questions directly. The limit of of 10 simultaneous video feeds injects some wonderful scarcity into the model.

    (Special thanks to @AdamWozney – Google’s community manage in Seattle – who took the time to meet with me and explain all of the possibilities).

  • This is a brilliant article. I think we can all agree the both Facebook and Google offer their own advantages of use. Facebook is better for reaching your friends and people you’ve just met, well, just because almost everyone is on Facebook these days. I don’t really agree with opinions that Facebook will become the new myspace, it’s just a too big phenomenon and many businesses today rely on Facebook. When people will start to get bored with it, they will have the resources to find a new way how to entertain their users once more.

    Google Plus, on the other hand, helps you with other things, like building the community with circles, can help your business via the hangouts (great feature, by the way), the integration within their other services, and I know that Facebook is nowadays integrated almost everywhere, but since most of the services like YouTube, Gmail, Wildfire, Android, Picasa and many others, are owned by Google, we may assume that the integration will be far more better and effective.

  • the only challenge right now with the local pages is that companies with multiple locations don’t have a consistent way to integrate the “Page” part of G+ (their local listings are all converted over). It’s a real puzzle though, and hopefully they either figure it out, or just allow for some easier admin & organization (and possibly some global branding options)

  • There are a LOT of animate G+ Fans that do not like Twitter, and how the two platform service (and do not service) their Social Media Marketing Needs, Bloggers not happy with the Twitter’s 160 character limit, and all the Links…They sees G+ as Offering the advantages of Facebook’s Depth, with Twitter’s faster flow and ability to communicate more freely, since the majority of Facebook PROFILES are restricted access .` Dharmamitra Jeffrey Stefani

  • I always thought Facebook and Linkedin was better for community outreach,this post gave me some idea to look in to Google+


    Facebook is going to lose its social media supremacy, this is just an
    analysis of the platform and how it allows brands, organizations, and
    individuals to fully engage with their community.

  • I have always been a huge Google fan and Google plus is just another reason why. The Google hangout alone is a fantastic way to connect with customers and team members. You can show off your products and get live up front opinions from clients and customers. You can train multiple people and get an audience at the same time. It is fantastic for exposure! Go Google!

  • The combination of the two can be promising.

  • sugar dimond

    good article, I think both are good

  • totally agree. Assbook is toast.