In response to an article I wrote for SocialMediaToday titled “Will Facebook Lose Small Business?” this question came to me via Sian Killingsworth on Twitter: “What are your thoughts on alternate #SM networks? Google+?”
Here’s my response:
I don’t think there are any true alternative social media networks to Facebook, at this time, including Google+. This is largely due to the numbers of fans in the Facebook network, how entrenched those fans are, the diversity of the fans in the network (demographics), etc.
The one possible contender for the ‘alternative SM networks’ role is Pinterest. It has huge potential for businesses and just last week announced Pinterest for businesses. Many small businesses, and larger ones, had already discovered the benefits of having an active presence on Pinterest and setting up a business profile simply opens the door wider. The network offers huge potential for those able to use visuals to share information, tell their story, and sell their products and services.
Social networks, like Pinterest, seem to be impacting how much time some users, especially women (although the number of men is growing!), are spending on Facebook. Facebook users who are also active on Pinterest spend, my guess, more time on on Pinterest when they’re logged in, scrolling through images of fashion, beauty, inspirational quotes, recipes, home decor, crafts, interior design, gift ideas, travel, etc. Most Pinterest users would say there is an addictive quality to it!
Anything that can be shared using a visually appealing image is ripe for Pinterest. And these images can be linked back to your website, your e-commerce site (to make a purchase), any place with a URL.
From a small business point of view, Facebook is losing some of its lustre as a place to invest a lot of time and energy for often meagre results. Social networks like Pinterest are opening up new opportunities for small business.
Facebook may make changes that reinforce it as an important place for small business to be. Even so, Pinterest is gaining traction with users and has huge potential for businesses, assuming they don’t mess too much with the status quo.
Google+ is a different animal compared to Facebook. It doesn’t seem to have the huge buy-in, usage and time spend that Facebook does. It does have large fan numbers, considering how long Google+ has been around, but the amount of time users spend on the network isn’t impressive.
According to an article in Search Engine Journal earlier this year, comScore shared this “breakdown regarding the average number of minutes users spend on each of the major social networking sites”:
Facebook: 405 minutes
Pinterest/Tumblr: 98 minutes
Twitter: 21 minutes
Watch for the time spent on Pinterest to rise, possibly at the expense of Facebook.