I have to admit that I’ve had misgivings about Google+ since it launched last September. How many other social media initiatives has Google rolled out, only to have them die on the vine because of poor execution, lousy interfaces, and decreasing attention from Google developers? Wave and Buzz come to mind, among others. And it’s yet another silo for social media marketers to maintain — Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks all require hands-on management to achieve marketing goals, and adding Google+ as an additional marketing/branding channel also requires lots of care and feeding. After all, social networks are not alike and they can’t all be used the same way — each one needs a unique plan and approach.
The platform was created in response to the growing influence of Facebook, and Facebook is feeling the heat. In a panic about the arrival of a more powerful Google rival, Marc Zuckerberg and his team have implemented many new features that first appeared on Google+, including chat with friends, a retooled newsfeed, an enhanced notification system, and the ability classify friends in various categories to update them separately, to name a few. The gloves are off.
Google+ now has over 170 million users and is predicted to grow to over 400 million by the end of 2012. Google is the king of search engines, and content on Google+ is now receiving preferential treatment in search results via Google’s new Search Plus Your World feature, which rolled out in January.
Nearly 70% of people start the search for your business on Google, so it’s time to take the plunge to see if the network can add value to your social media marketing efforts.
3 reasons to use Google+ for Business
Google+ features Circles, Google’s version of the Facebook friend list or the Twitter List, which enable you to select which posts are sent to specific groups of followers. This could be a boon to businesses that cater to certain consumers and demographics — you can create different content for Circles that are comprised of different age groups, send special offers to customers in a particular geographic Circle, etc.
The Hangouts feature is more than just a way to video chat. It also enables your team to collaborate in real time on shared files in Google Docs and can also be used as a virtual whiteboard for brainstorming. You can collaborate with your customers as well via the Hangouts feature — for example, you can run a live-video customer feedback session on Hangouts, giving you valuable insights into your products and your customer base in a very cost-effective way.
More than 1 billion people use Google’s search engine each month. Google+ for Business gives you the potential to tap that traffic via search results. People with personal Google+ profiles can recommend your business with a +1 or add your business to their Circles so they can follow all of your posts. Direct Connect is one of the most headline-grabbing features in Google+, and provides users with a simple way to find the Google+ Pages of any company or organization they want to reach. Users will eventually be able to reach any Google+ Page by simply adding a ‘+’ symbol to the front of a search term in Google. This feature is now available on YouTube (try this sample search for Starbucks), and will be gradually rolled out to other Google properties.
Chris Brogan, a 10-year veteran of using social media and both web and mobile technologies to build digital relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals, has written a new book about what steps companies should take in planning how to use Google+ for their business. Google Plus for Business is a great read and contains a wealth of information about using the network for promotion, customer service, community building, referrals, collaboration, and more.
The folks at BlueGlass created this nice infographic for Chris about Google+ for business, filled with lots of factoids and thoughts to consider. It has many points about marketing scattered throughout, and it helps you see why Google+ might help you take your business goals to the next level.
Have you used Google Plus for your business? I’m interested to hear about your experiences, good and bad, so please leave a comment!