Facebook And Google + Up The Engagement Factor For Marketers

In the latest, and certainly not the last round of updates in the ever-growing battle for social supremacy among brand managers, both Facebook and Google+ announced updates – each designed to help brands and brand marketers to engage more with their fans and customers.

Facebook, the big dog on the social media block of course with its over 800 million member base and counting, announced the creation of what is essentially a direct message feature, to borrow a Twitter term. The new feature will allow consumers to send a private message to brand via the brand’s Facebook page. Heretofore this was not an option as if a consumer wanted to send their favorite a brand message via Facebook it would have to be posted for all the world to see.

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The folks at The Next Web referred to this latest update as “a significant introduction that will allow businesses to interact more closely with customers on the service than ever before.” And they are right for this will indeed provide brands and businesses to engage on a much more personal level than previously able and having the ability to engage at an even greater detail is surely significant. In their article The Next Web also played up the fact that in their opinion, B2C brand marketers having even a greater interest in this new update…

“Consumer facing businesses will find the feature particularly useful as it enables more personal communication with individual customers, opening the possible of a greater level of customer service on Facebook.”

Now, when I read this last line I said to myself, ‘here we go again’ as in here’s another example of another person, in this case the writer of the article, failing to realize the obvious fact which is we are ALL consumers. This change to Facebook affects both B2C and B2B marketers alike. When the writer says Consumer facing businesses will find the feature particularly useful as it enables more personal communication with individual customers…” does he not realize that Even Though It’s Called B2B, There’s Still A “C” On The Other End?

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That’s the title of a post written back in May and it’s still painfully clear that people simply lose sight of the fact that there are is a person on the other end of that line, a human being who wants to engage in a personal communication just like any other human being.

Sorry, didn’t mean to go off on a tangent there, let’s get back to the new Facebook feature.

While it’s great that brands can now engage in a personal, private conversation there are some caveats that brand marketers need to be aware of…

All private messages must be initiated by the consumer and eve though once a private conversation is initiated it is open to both parties, it’s not recommended to use the private message feature as another avenue to promote and sell.

One very real and negative effect of the new private messages is that the messages will in fact be private which could mean less organic growth for a brand. As The Next Web puts it “Facebook socializes each fan’s interactions with a page — sharing likes, shares, comments, and other interactions fans make there, with their friends — which can help raise a page’s visibility. So, more private messages may lead to less public comments, which could curtail this growth somewhat.”

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As for Google+…
Google+, rights for Google+… Or as Mark Zuckerberg referred to it “Google’s little version of Facebook” they too released some updates one of which directly impacted brands and their business pages on Google+…

Here’s how they announced the changes on their official blog:

Improvements to Google+ Pages
Google+ Pages have already provided brands and businesses a new means of connecting to and deeply engaging with consumers. In the weeks since launching pages, we’ve been listening to your feedback and we’re pleased to make some of the most oft-requested features available.

You can now delegate up to 50 named managers as administrators for a page.
A new notification flow will ensure that these managers stay in the loop on all the activity that takes place on a page, giving managers the ability to stay involved in page conversations.
We’ll now show an aggregated count of users that have engaged with your page, either by +1’ing it or by adding it to a circle. This way, both you and your page’s visitors can get an at-a-glance summary of who is interacting with your page.

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It was quite surprising when Google+ Pages was first released there was only one admin allowed per page. That simply made no sense and the criticism and outcry was as expected. But now they’ve made the requisite change along with several others, Google+ is demonstrating that they are in fact listening to the people – the brand marketers and so on who manage a given brand’s Google+ Page.

Not sure why anyone would need 50 managers for a Page but be that is it may the new notification system will allow for all of them to stay up to date in real time just as they can in Facebook and Twitter on their particular brand Page and what they’re fans and customers are talking about.

So what do you think of all the changes and new features to Facebook and Google+?

How do you see the use of private messages helping you engage with your fans?

And for Google+ it is essentially the same question… How do the new changes to Google+ Pages help you interact with your fans?

And as for the B2C and B2B discussion… what type are you?

If you’re a B2B brand marketer do you use Facebook and Google+ and if so, how?

And if not, why?