beautiful bytes – Facebook vs. Google. Ding Ding!
Facebook’s changing traffic
Facebook hasn’t exactly needed to do a great deal to receive the traffic it’s been getting for the last few years. Spurred by it’s relative synonymity with the internet, Facebook accounts are about as important as an email address when it comes to your online presence nowadays.
According to Nielson research (via Reuters), Facebook is now the second most visited site in the UK having overtaken Microsoft sites (presumably from visits to Hotmail/Live Mail). Naturally, Google still holds the top spot. We were surprised at this figure, but only because we assumed Facebook was already there.
Facebook is maturing
While significant volumes of new users are largely coming from countries arriving late to the Facebook party, there is a marked increase in the number users aged over 50. The social network saw an 84% growth among these users between 2009 and 2011, compared to 41% growth across the board.
What’s really interesting, is that this age group is also engaging with brand pages on a much larger scale (see graph). 43% of 55+ year old users had liked a brand on Facebook by April 2011 compared to 24% in September 2010.
What does this mean?
Well, first and foremost, we can now more or less oust the myth that social networks are full of young people. The audience is incredibly diverse, possibly to the extent that Google has already reached. This is further proof that Facebook deserves a share of your ad spend. It will be worth testing to see if your supporters are engaged with your ads via Facebook if you aren’t already doing so.
Secondly, targeting will feature much more prominently when hosting ads. What works for one age group might not work for another, but not necessarily. Again, testing is key.
Finally, it presents a significant opportunity for the charity sector. This age group will generally have a higher disposable income than younger age groups, so we need to make sure we get in touch with them.
Google’s Social Solution
Google has been encroaching into Facebook territory quite trepidaciously over the past few months.
At long last, Google has started to roll out their +1 feature in search results to the rest of the world. Until now, only the US and those who actively opted into the service could +1 their way across the web.
It feels like a significant update, further shaping the concept of the social web.
While having got used to the idea of liking content thanks to Facebook’s long standing and widespread plugin, it hasn’t really effected our search behaviors. +1 on the other hand, might. As long as you’re signed into your google account that is…
And on Tuesday, they stepped outside of their data heavy comfort zone with the release of a Facebook-esque social networking service called the Google(PLUS) project.
It is only available to a select group of users at the minute, but soon they will be able to send invites to others.
The service, like Facebook, will let people share and discuss status updates, photos and links. The difference, however, is that it is designed with a more intimate approach in mind for smaller groups of peers. You don’t have to share with the wider networks of people created by the ‘friends of friends’ nature of Facebook. Similar to Twitter, Google(PLUS) users do not have to agree to be friends with eachother. They can receive updates from someone without sharing their content.
According to Claire Cain Miller, New York Times
“Gundotra and Horowitz said they took pains to mimic people’s relationships in real life and eliminate the social awkwardness that things like friend requests and oversharing can generate on other sites.”
How would this approach affect how you speak to your donors and beneficiaries? If social media culture trends away from mass updates and huge networks how is the way you engage with people going to be different?