This is one of the long-running questions in my local search peer network, and perhaps one of the more important questions going forward when it comes to small businesses and online marketing. The general consensus is that there are more small businesses with Facebook Pages than with claimed Google Place Pages. That comes from anecdotal evidence and various survey estimates, but not from hard, reliable statistics.
Google: 8 Million Claimed Place Pages
Earlier this month at the ILM West conference, Google self-reported a big number: eight million claimed Place Pages. See David Mihm’s coverage and the Kelsey Group’s coverage for confirmation, as well as other Google local/mobile numbers.
Mike Blumenthal has posted about the growth of claimed Place Pages, based on what’s now three times that Google has self-reported statistics over the past 20 months. In a nutshell, the number has doubled in that time frame from four million in April 2010 to the current eight million.
Facebook: ??? Businesses with Pages
Unfortunately, the number of businesses with Facebook Pages is a mystery. Facebook isn’t saying — I’ve emailed the communications team twice in the past couple weeks and received no reply — and, to my knowledge, never has given a number.
There’ve been numerous surveys and similar attempts to guesstimate the number of small businesses with Facebook pages. Greg Sterling wrote earlier this year about one survey that said 54% of SMBs have a Facebook page. Some surveys peg the number higher, while others have it lower.
Before some of our GetListed Local University workshops, we poll attendees and ask if they have a claimed Google Place Page, if they have a Facebook page, etc. As Mike Blumenthal reported from our recent Western New York event, the numbers skewed pretty heavily toward Facebook. (Admittedly, that was a very small sample of SMBs, but my memory is that the responses always seem to reflect similar percentages.)
One of the problems with any survey, though, is the possibility (likelihood?) of mistaken self-reporting. How many SMBs who take these surveys actually have a personal Facebook profile that they use for business purposes, but don’t really have a Facebook Page?
As of 2007, the US Census Bureau estimated that there were about 27.7 million small businesses in the US. If we use the 54% statistic that I mentioned two paragraphs above, that would give a rough estimate of about 15 million SMBs with Facebook Pages.
That’s a little less than double the number of claimed Google Place Pages. I don’t really want to put a lot of stock in that but, for now, it may be the best we can do.
Your thoughts? In your experience, do more small business owners that you know have claimed Google Place Pages or a Facebook Page? (Given that a fair amount of local search folks read this blog, I’m guessing the replies will tilt towards Google more than they do in the general populace.)