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Is Google+ or Facebook better for business?

Facebook has head start, but Google+ could find enterprise niche with key adds

November 11, 2011 06:03 AM ET

Computerworld - Ever since Google came out with Google+ Pages for business on Monday, the company has taken heat for not giving enterprises basic tools with this initial offering.

And while industry analysts think Google+ could find a lucrative niche in the social networking world among enterprise users, for now there's a sense that Facebook may be outdoing Google+ when it comes to giving businesses a place to reach customers.

"I think Google has been trying to strike a balance between responding quickly to one big market demand -- support for business presence on Google+ -- versus bringing a fully-fleshed-out offering to the market," said Ray Valdes, an analyst with Gartner. "They are choosing not to wait until Google+ is fully decked out with important but secondary features, such as multi-admin support, account transfers, and audio file support.

"In this fast-moving sector, Google does not have the luxury of waiting until a full-featured offering is ready," added Valdes.

Actually, there's quite a list of features that Google+ Pages doesn't have right now, including the ability for businesses to offer deals or coupons, as well as the ability to host contests or sweepstakes. Businesses on Google+ Pages also can't sell products.

Many of these features are available on Facebook and now users want them on Google+.

Soon after Google execs in July asked businesses to hold off creating Google+ pages until the network was ready for them, Facebook released Facebook for Business , which basically is a guide to walk businesses through the process of using Facebook features like deals, social plug-ins and ads.

Facebook made it clear that it was going after enterprises and their online time and took advantage of the delay for Google+ Pages. Now, several months later, analysts say it's clear Google+ still needs more work.

According to Valdes, Google+ Pages is a good start and the company will fill out its offering in the coming months.

"Although Google is getting some criticism for gaps in the feature set, and things that perhaps should have been better thought out, I think that they likely would have gotten more heat for not responding at all to the need for business pages on Google+," he said. "Facebook has a more complete offering at the moment, but this is a fast-moving situation. Google and Facebook are not mutually exclusive choices. Many businesses have a blog, and a Twitter feed, and a Facebook page already, and now some portion of those will add a Google+ Page."

In Google's favor: many businesses are just now diving into the social networking, which will give the company some time to get its act together, said Hadley Reynolds, an analyst with IDC. "[Businesses] will clearly welcome a Google offering and a Google audience," he added. "So Google has time to take Pages through the revisions and additions process required to make the program truly usable and valuable."

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