Google+ for Business: An Innovative Tool for Social Marketers

Aug 04

On June 28, 2011, Google launched its social networking answer to Facebook, Google+. Within the first 2 weeks, this invitation only network amassed 10 million users. Now, a little over a month later, the site has 25 million users and that number continues to grow exponentially.

Like Facebook, Google+ is a platform for consumers to share personalized information with people in their social circles. Eventually, Google+ will offer its users complete integration with all Google products. Products like Google Places, Google Maps and Picasa will seamlessly link into users’ streams and fan out to their networks. First, let’s define the Google+ lingo.

Streams: The primary way to communicate information on Google+. Streams are status updates that can be shared with friends across circles.
Circles: An organizational tool that separates those in your social network into easy to identify groups. For a business, circles can separate fans by how frequently they post/comment, their primary interests or their purchasing behavior.
Hangouts: A video chat feature that allows for two person video conversations, or accommodates a video conference for up to 10 users. Within the next few months, this feature will also include hearing-impaired capabilities.
Sparks: A stream of search-engine results based off of users’ interests. Sparks is an opportunity to have Google+ search and aggregate videos, pictures, and articles based on the user’s interest.

Google+ for business rolls out later this year. Already, over 10,000 businesses have petitioned Google for a business account. In addition to organizations like Ford Motor Company, Sesame Street, and Mashable, the roster of businesses eager to try Google+ includes law firms, charities, and non-profits. The communication possibilities for social marketers are almost limitless. Once friends or fans are placed into circles, the user can choose specific circles to share targeted information. Demographically sophisticated circles make it easy for businesses to personalize messages to consumers and send nuanced communiqués about the same topic to a wide variety of fans. While the same selective messaging element can be done on Facebook, Google+’s method is intuitive and user-friendly.

In addition to Google Places, Google Maps and Picasa, Google+ for business will allow Twitter and Facebook feeds to live stream onto a Google+ home page. When consumers visit Google+ they will be exposed to the various social media platforms a company operates, and access to that information may prompt them to interact with the company in a way they might not have, had they only gone to Twitter and read a series of tweets.

Videos and live online conversations are powerful tools for spreading information. In a crisis, instead of having one press conference and then utilizing Twitter to interact with consumers, Google+ Hangout and video feature can provide opportunities for many mini news conferences. If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has important information to share about Flu vaccines, in addition to sending a press release, they can create a short video and stream it on their Google+ page. They can also engage in video conversations with specific circles in their network.

Google pioneered online measurement metrics, and Google+ will include a wide range of rich analytics options for businesses. Google+ for business will offer the ability to use any analytics gathered on Google to help give depth to other Google measurement applications, like AdWords or AdSense. Google+ gives businesses a wide variety of options to measure the impact of their interactions with consumers, and adjust their strategy accordingly.

With over 750 million users, Facebook will remain Goliath in the social networking space. Google+’s features make it a smart compliment for any organization trying to strengthen its relationship with consumers. In social marketing, where the goal is to effect behavior change, any tool that increases our opportunity to interact with the consumer and keep them engaged is a welcome innovation.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 4th, 2011 at 5:49 pm and is filed under Social Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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