Google+ and LinkedIn are both vying for top position among business networks, and both have their own unique characteristics to bring value.
Social media has absolutely exploded, and digital marketing has proven to be an incredibly valuable tool in a business’s advertising arsenal. Which one brings more value? Which one is more beneficial to a company’s marketing plan?
Tale of the Tape
Google+ has been around for several years, and was the fastest growing social media in networking history. It offers a very integrated approach to social media, rather than simply the traditional news feed. While it does have a newsfeed, it is arranged completely differently for a broader appeal than Facebook and LinkedIn’s more linear fashion.
In addition, Google owns the online video giant YouTube, which gives marketers a major advantage by creating a YouTube channel.
LinkedIn may not have Google’s brand of engineers, which are some of the best – and highest compensated – in the world. (Note: We’re not implying LinkedIn developers are slouches or incompetent in any way) However, LinkedIn does have other strengths: for starters, it’s a social media site aimed exclusively towards the business and professional market. The obvious benefit is that people log on to LinkedIn with expressly professional intent.
Hence, searching for the proper market segmentation is not an issue with LinkedIn.
This lends support to the hopes that any digital content produced for LinkedIn will not display sandwiched between baby videos and cat memes, unlike other social media sites.
In more detail…
Google certainly isn’t eliminated from the B2B market yet, however. Google offers a wide product offering of various apps to serve business markets, specifically for productivity. While some of these don’t necessarily apply to marketing in the strictest fashion, they certainly enable businesses to produce higher quality marketing content via streamlined processes.
Google Drive, for instance, can allow a marketing team to collaborate much more effectively. Google Hangouts allow the marketing team the ability to host Hangout sessions for clients or internal meetings, among other benefits.
In addition to these apps, Google has a very powerful marketing tool that is unparalleled in weight: Google Places. Google Places (and, by default, Google Maps) plays a major factor, especially in mobile searches.
Clients searching from their smartphones will use Google Maps very frequently (especially Android users, who have approximately 80% market share) and being able to successfully advertise and market a business on Google Places/Google Maps will develop a considerable advantage over a company that does not.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, doesn’t have the apps to enhance productivity, but it certainly has features of its own.
For starters, LinkedIn offers a wide variety of daily business-oriented articles which are customized for each user. This proves to be invaluable as a marketing strategy, and LinkedIn has a very unique ability to target the readers who matter most – the decision makers. Most decision makers (C-Levels especially) don’t have time for all the unique features and apps Google has to offer.
The very little leisure reading they do will be much more likely to be found on LinkedIn, perusing one of the many articles on how to enhance their business in some fashion, or what’s going on in their industry. Google+ has a news reader as well, but because LinkedIn articles center around business and industry news, it makes LinkedIn a much better tool for spreading a message.
This, in addition to the company pages in LinkedIn wields a tremendous advantage in certain areas.
Why Just These Two?
Facebook has the largest amount of users of any social media in the world, and runs one of the largest advertisement campaigns in world history. The unfortunate fact of life with Facebook is that it works for some businesses, but it is costly and cluttered among other ads, all vying for attention.
It works for some business models (specifically those with tracking cookies who have visited their website before) but it doesn’t really penetrate in the same manner that Google does with their SEO optimization, nor does it reach the target audience the way LinkedIn does.
Twitter is one of the most active varieties of social media, and has more Fortune 500 companies involved. Twitter has a strong advertising platform, but there are a few problems with it. First and foremost, the coveted targeted audience is much more difficult to tap with Twitter than LinkedIn.
When examining ROI, one must consider the pay-per-click schedule compared to tweets – and frankly, one can run an effective ad campaign on twitter without paying for ads. (Facebook has the option for a company page as well). Twitter is great for engaging customers and potential clients, but more from an interactive – and less marketing – standpoint.
Pinterest is a (relatively) new platform that allows users to select interests (much like Facebook) and the entire site centers on these interests. However, Pinterest doesn’t offer much in the way of advertising – and users prefer it that way. Pinterest will begin a test run of paid advertisements, but it is a very small and exclusive group (who, by the way, has committed to spend between $1-2 million – well outside the reach of most marketing companies.)
When the Dust Settles
In the age of digital content and social media, generating buzz and keywords tend to fetch a substantial portion of a company’s marketing budget. Traditional marketing avenues are being replaced by digital….everything. Digital content and social media works, and marketing managers are seeing this trend continue skyward.
Bearing this in mind, however, most C-Levels don’t care about how many followers, retweets or likes are on a company’s page. What executives want to see is a high conversion percentage, the return on marketing, and which channels are most effective. Emotional connection to a marketing campaign is a quick way to rack up high costs with a low return.
Google Plus vs LinkedIn. So, Who Wins?
While it’s difficult to determine a single, across the board winner, LinkedIn wins in the B2B arena.
Google’s business apps are very helpful for collaboration efforts, which in turn can increase overall productivity. But LinkedIn can reach a target audience of more educated, qualified, and relevant decision makers. Google certainly isn’t without merit – but their aim is simply not geared towards B2B.
Google+ has not developed into the wildly popular social media site it was hyped to become (although, looking at long term trends, we expect it to be at least as influential as Facebook down the road). LinkedIn, on the other hand, is and has always been the professional and business oriented website.
And that’s where B2B success is.