Facebook and Google+ Competing For Your Attention

With the launch of Google+, the inevitable tech fan boys preaching the downfall of Facebook–because a new shiny cat toy caught their attention–was laughably predictable. As SEO’s, internet marketers, and social media consultants, we have to be involved in these games, or we risk losing our competitive edge. However, what we really need to understand is that this is a war for consumer data and attention.

Google wants to make it as easy for advertisers to spend their advertising dollars targeting you as your local super market makes it to buy a can of Cambell’s tomato soup… 

Make no misunderstanding, when you use a service and there is no subscription fee, you aren’t the customer, you are the product being sold to advertisers. These services will go to great lengths to develop features that will keep you on the site, engaged with other users, so they can gather as much data and profile you as effectively as they possibly can. To show you how good companies like Google have gotten at gathering and packaging this data, you should know they are working on developing a marketplace to sell it in neat little packages to advertisers. To put it another way, Google wants to make it as easy as possible for advertisers to spend their advertising dollars targeting you as your local super market makes it to buy a can of Cambell’s tomato soup. Think about that the next time you hear someone from Google say “We do it for the users.”

Hopefully you have come across the term Dunbars Number in your life. If you haven’t, go click that last link and acquaint yourself with the concept because it’s important. For those of you who are lazy, it basically says people can only pay attention and care about a limited number of people or things in their lives. It varies from individual to individual, but the average person can pay attention to about 150 people or things; beyond that, things start to slip through the cracks, unless people use some automated reminder tools like a CRM database.

What does this have to do with Facebook and Google+? You need to apply the Dunbars number concept to regular people. SEO’s, marketers, and social media experts HAVE to be on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook, but most people don’t. People have a limited attention span and a limited amount of time, and they will choose the one that connects them best/most with the people or subjects they are most interested in and enjoy. They may have accounts on the other services, but they won’t use them much if the other services don’t satisfy their need for information, pleasure, or entertainment. Keeping up on all three services is work and, unless your paycheck is dependent on your involvement, you will eventually give it up when it stops being fun. Don’t believe me? Look at how many people stopped blogging and switched to twitter. Blogging is work and, if you didn’t figure out how to monetize your blog, it has to satisfy some other need you have (like creative expression) or you were doing a lot of work for free … and no one wants to do that.

The techno weenies  are all hopped up on how much better Google+ is at driving traffic to their blogs than Twitter or Facebook. However, they are living in a narcissistic bubble and can’t see what’s really going on. Number one, Twitter referral stats are inaccurate, in some cases wildly inaccurate, and unless you used hash tag tracking or some other method that closes the holes, you would never know that. The second aspect is that Facebook is filled with a population that much more closely reflects society as a whole–i.e., normal people, not propeller-headed weenies who think arguing about whether a star destroyer or the enterprise would win in a space battle is important or think that being on the homepage of techmeme is a noteworthy accomplishment. If your audience is tech-centric, go after Google+ traffic the way crocodiles go after migrating herds of wildebeests at narrow river crossings. If your customers are regular people, take a wait-and-see approach for now. If Google+ can come up with some way to get regular people to make the switch, then it’s time to pay attention and look for ways to leverage that traffic to your advantage, but for now it’s as smart as trying to rob a bank before anyone has made any deposits. In other words, it’s a complete waste of time.

photo credit:  Photospin



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