The Digital Showdown: Google vs. Facebook

Last semester at Fresno State, I had a team project in one of my marketing classes to create a campaign plan for Facebook’s tool, Custom Audiences. We started out by surveying and interviewing marketing decision makers in local businesses, and then we used this information to help shape our marketing plan. A competitive analysis revealed that Facebook’s biggest competitor is Google. Now, not only did all of this research lead to an “A” on the project, but I learned so much about the online advertising industry that I can now apply at JP!

The online advertising industry is a media giant growing larger every year. According to IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, U.S. Internet ad revenues hit a record-breaking first quarter high of $13.3 billion in 2015. The Internet ad industry plays a vital role in today’s marketing mix as a growing number of consumers are going digital and using online media. At the top are Facebook and Google. In 2015, Facebook and Google captured more than half of the $69 billion worldwide mobile-advertising market. These stats back up the data from my team’s survey results; we found that all of our respondents have a Facebook page for their business, and 70% said they use Facebook to advertise all the time, whether it be free or paid advertising.

Which to Choose?
Since there are so many options to choose from, which platforms should you advertise on? One important aspect to consider: which social media platforms do your customers use? Facebook is the largest social platform with 1.2 billion users, but there are many other social media sites available like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and the list goes on and on. We won’t delve deep into all the platforms; right now we will just focus on Facebook and Google.

Google shows consumers advertisements that are related to their keyword searches; they are more likely to click on the ad since they are already searching for it. For example, when searching for a lawyer online, most people would “Google it.” You don’t scroll through your Facebook newsfeed looking for a lawyer; instead you “Google it.” Google is so popular it’s turned into a verb! Investing money in Google Adwords is a great way to reach out to customers who are looking for your business, and will hopefully become returning customers.

When you are on Facebook, you are there to connect with family, friends and organizations. It’s a social platform for people to share content. Businesses that are social and shareable would benefit the most from this platform. Examples of social and shareable businesses are those like restaurants, salons, clothing stores, etc. They are places you go for a social activity or they are places you like to share about online. Many people love to post pictures of their decadent desserts or they like to show off their new hair cut or the new outfit they just purchased.

This Institute for Family Business Facebook post was engaging because it asks for people to nominate family businesses. Many people shared and liked the post and engaged with it.
Here is an Institute for Family Business post that is shareable and calls for engagement.

Even if you don’t consider your business social or shareable, you can still create shareable content to engage your audience. For example, many service businesses (like insurance companies) aren’t considered social, yet many have successful social media accounts. Why? Because they post engaging content like answers to their frequently asked questions or relevant news articles that are shareable and have interesting content. I’ve been running the Family Business Project’s social media accounts and the Institute for Family Business’s Facebook and those aren’t considered very social, yet I am able to post interesting facts and articles about family businesses, and motivate people to engage with the content. By doing so, businesses like these can make themselves interesting and shareable on social media.

Relevant Advertising
When people are searching on Google, the results are relevant to their keyword search. When people are socializing on social media, they don’t like to be bothered with irrelevant advertisements; one way to avoid doing so is by advertising to your own customers. Facebook has a feature called Custom Audiences where you can upload emails from your database and Facebook will compare those emails to their users. Once they locate your customers on Facebook, you can advertise to your own customers who already love your product or service. But let’s take it one step further. Through Custom Audiences, you can build look-a-like audiences to gain new customers that have similar demographics and interests to your current customers. This is a great tool to help you grow your customer base, while still advertising to those who already love you.

In 2015, 74% of the Fortune 500 companies actively used Facebook to engage with their customers, so if you aren’t reaching out to your customers on social media, you will probably want to start soon. If you don’t believe how many companies are on social media, Google it!

If you want to create a digital footprint for your business but don’t know where to start, we offer a free one-hour consultation, so email us at to learn more.

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