Facebook is seen by many as a threat to Google over the long term. That point can be debated at length. However there’s one area where Facebook appears to be no threat to Mountain View (at least in the near term): brand perception. Facebook badly lags Google in a new “brand desire” survey from UK-based brand consultancy Clear.
Clear found that Google ranked much more favorably than did Facebook in the global poll of 22,000 people. According to Clear, Google came out at number two (was Apple #1?) “whilst Facebook languishes at No. 38.” The agency added that, “In the UK, the comparison is even starker, with Google at No. 5 and Facebook not even making the top 100, scraping in at No. 151.”
According to the survey 58 percent of respondents found Google to be a brand deserving of “respect.” That was up 5 percent from the previous year. By contrast Facebook lost 3 percentage points in the same category; only 31 percent found Facebook worthy of “respect.”
Clear believes this discrepancy can partly be attributed to the fact that Google is more commercially “transparent” than Facebook. Google is “unashamedly” a commercial enterprise, while Facebook seems to “struggle to reconcile its commercial ambitions with its overall mission.” In other words, to some Facebook seems “hypocritical” by comparison:
Well, Google has always been an unashamedly commercial organization, with a clear and simple mission to ‘Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’. They are transparent about their plans and ambitions for growth. These make sense to consumers in the context of what the brand stands for and what it is trying to achieve in the world . . .
Facebook, on the other hand, was founded on the idea of fun and social interaction, not of making money . . . Facebook often seems to struggle to reconcile its commercial ambitions with its overall mission ‘To make the world more open and connected’. As a result it comes across to consumers as secretive, guarded, even scheming . . .
Clear recommends that Facebook engage in an “open and honest” conversation with its users about Facebook’s commercial aspirations to help remedy the trust and “respect” problem. Easier said than done perhaps.
Other studies have also exposed negative consumer sentiment toward Facebook. Last year 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) e-business report found Facebook to be “one one of the lowest-scoring companies measured by the ACSI.” As a private company that was growing like wildfire Facebook could disregard such findings. But as a public company that won’t be quite as easy.
Postscript: In stark contrast to the above Facebook has beaten Google and won an advertiser perception survey, conducted among ad industry executives, as the strongest digital brand.
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