February 24, 2014

New Data Shows Google Plus Will Not Replace Facebook

In a recent study by Renegade, we explored the question, “Is Google Plus a valuable investment for brands for social media marketing?” According to our results, the answer is no. We took the top 10 brands on Google Plus and compared the performance of their (same) content on both Facebook and Google Plus. Even with Facebook’s constraints on post reach, Facebook posts on average received 36 times as many engagements per post than those same posts on Google Plus. Taking into account the relative fan and follower bases, Facebook posts were 12 times more effective than Google Plus posts in terms of engagement rates.
“Facebook posts received 36 times as many engagements per post than those same posts on Google Plus.” Tweet This!
Compared engagements per post from Facebook and Google Plus.

Compared engagements per post from Facebook and Google Plus.

Compared engagements per post from Facebook and Google Plus.

Compared engagement rates on Facebook and Google Plus.

While some brands (and people) have found pockets of success on Google Plus, the relatively new and growing platform still has not yet caught up with the powerhouse Facebook for a couple of reasons. First, as of Q3 in 2013, Google was reported to have 300 million active users compared to Facebook’s 1 billion. Second, Google Plus’s content targeting capabilities based on profile data are a far cry from the variations that Facebook has to offer. Twitter, however, is a different story. While many of these brands have high number of followers on Twitter, their engagement varies from brand to brand. Google Plus seems to be a better investment of time and energy for H&M, Red Bull, Mercedes, and Android, all of whom have over 50% more engagement on Google Plus than Twitter. Burberry, PlayStation, and Angry Birds, however, all had better engagement on Twitter than on Google Plus. Compared engagements per post on Twitter and Google Plus.

Compared engagements per post on Twitter and Google Plus.

Compared engagement rates on Twitter and Google Plus.

Compared engagement rates on Twitter and Google Plus.

Facebook is still the clear winner in engagements per posts and engagement rates for the top brands overall. Despite its diminishing reach and fuddled EdgeRank algorithm, the network seems to be delivering the right content to the most appropriate users. Subscribing to the assumption that all content on Google Plus is served to a brand’s followers, it would seem that Google Plus users simply aren’t as engaged as those on Facebook. We shall see if the landscape changes as the fledgling network grows.  
Methodology: Posts from the top-performing brands on Google Plus were tracked and cross-referenced between Google Plus and Facebook. Average engagements per post, engagement rates and % increase from engagement were calculated on posts with the same content topic using likes, comments, shares (or the equivalent on the Google Plus). Data was collected from March 1, 2013 to October 1, 2013. Engagement rates were calculated using the page’s audience on October 1, 2013.