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Thursday January 5, 2012

Why Your Company Should Start Using Google Plus

We’ve had many clients ask whether or not they should invest in creating and managing a new Google+ account for their company and brands. The major source of concern seems to be using staff resources for “yet another” social media platform that needs to be managed beyond the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn pages they already manage. Maintaining regular and relevant posts, photos, and truly socializing with followers on each network can be a drain on staff time.

Our first response to that is about your business priority – customers first. It’s not about what’s easy for you, it’s about making access to your brand easy for your customer. However, marketers are always strapped for time, so it is important to put that time in the best places. How do we determine the best places?

Online Brand Management Principles

As we manage our clients’ brands on the web, there are a few general principles of web presence management that are becoming clear:

  1. Search Engine results rankings are improved by the use of many small tactics. Google doesn’t put its stock in the word of just one or two sources. It looks at votes of confidence from as many sources as exist. So, it’s not a question of which social network to use – it’s a question of how to manage each network your audience is using.
  2. There is a big benefit in being an early adopter. There is more leverage to be gained from being on a social network at its inception (and before it’s perfect). You simply have more visibility on the network before your competitors (and others) arrive.
  3. Building and maintaining an online presence is time consuming and labor intensive. There’s just no way around it.

Is Google+ One of Those Best Places NOW?

Yes. Google is strong and if they can find the right mix for how to combine Google+ with their other services, it could turn into a social network that is hard to avoid. More importantly, as Google successfully integrates its social experience with other popular every-day services, it will truly make users’ online lives easier and more consolidated.

Why Now?

Google+, at this time, offers that unique opportunity to get on board early and to be there when new users start looking for people and brands to fill their circles.

It doesn’t matter that techy writers criticize Google+ and that there have been legitimate missteps in the rollout. Nothing on the web is perfect and things change quickly. In order to be on the web in places before your competitors, you will always have to jump on the presently imperfect bandwagon. It’s like recognizing an undervalued stock before the market does.

Or consider how Google AdWords used to be less expensive because fewer advertisers were there bidding up the price. Early adopters received more value for their time and expense. Likewise, in this case, we suspect you will get more value for your time by joining early on.

If Google+ Isn’t Viable Now, It Will Be

It’s true… Google has tried numerous times to venture into social media without success. Some of the attempts were Google Buzz, Google Wave, Friend Connect, Google Lively, and Open Social. Despite those attempts, and because of those attempts, we believe Google+ has a more promising future ahead.

Aside from the rocky start and the numerous opinionated articles that criticize the current state of Google+, Google, as a company, is popular and has the capital to burn until they get it right. Google Search, Google Docs, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Analytics, Google AdWords, YouTube, and Android are all tremendous successes—you can’t just write-off the idea of Google being able to successfully break into social networking.

Google+ is Showing Up in Organic Search

+1 Recommendations

Google has already begun integrating the +1 recommendation functionality and social information into search results. When someone searches and sees in the results that five of their close friends have +1’d your webpage, it’s very persuasive for getting clicks. People trust their friends.

Direct Connect

Getting to a Google+ business page is very easy and can be done through search with one click. Google+ is promoting a new feature called “Direct Connect.” This feature allows a brand’s public website to be directly associated with its Google+ brand page. The feature enables searchers to type in a plus sign followed by a brand name and be directed straight to the brand’s Google+ Page as being the “official” company.

…why would any business want to push people to search with a + symbol to arrive on a page that Google effectively owns, rather than the company’s own website? Answer? If you do a Direct Connect search, you’ll get only one result, an official page. If you don’t do that, then you end up with the classic “10 blue links” which might do things like suggest your competitor or a critic.

Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Land
Article: A Look at Google Direct Connect

A Steady Stream of Improvements

Google is moving fast. They have recently announced two other new Google+ features that will soon appear in their search results.

  1. The “Add To Circles” button will appear next to search results that have brand pages associated with them. They can add a brand to their circles without leaving the search results.
  2. The two most recent Google+ posts from a brand page will appear in search results underneath the website’s link. If a searcher is logged into Google+, they will see even more.

What It All Means For Your Company

Be Where Your Customers Are

Marketing is all about talking to your customers where and when they are most apt to be considering your products, services and messages. With the number of hours people spend on sites like Facebook, Google+, YouTube, or Google Search, you need to try and be there with them – don’t fight them by trying to funnel them to your most convenient location.

There are over 62 million users on Google+, and if momentum in Google+ stays up, these users are certainly going to act like Facebook users – wanting to hear from and communicate with brands right inside the social platform they enjoy.

There Are Tools To Help

Some marketers are bemoaning the fact that it’s “yet another” communication tool to manage… But don’t fret, there are tools available to make managing multiple social-media accounts easier. HootSuite is just one of the many that help simplify multi-posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others from one location.

Google+ just recently released their API, so we expect to see many new tools coming that integrate with Google+.

So roll up your sleeves and get a Google+ brand page set up NOW. Your customers will appreciate it.

 
 

Comments

Nice post.
Can you follow this post with a simple “how to”? And, can you tell me which of Google’s social media attempts are still functional—and how they are all related?

Phil Mowrey on Tuesday January 10, 2012

Check out Google’s new TV Spot for “Search Plus Your World”:

http://creativity-online.com/work/google-search-plus-your-world/25823

Brandon Luhring on Wednesday January 11, 2012

And here is their marketing description of why “Search Plus” is going to change the landscape of search.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/search-plus-your-world.html

I’m actually very interested in seeing this. Their example of a family pet named after a fruit is spot-on with how this could benefit the average user’s daily online life. Very intriguing…

Brandon Luhring on Wednesday January 11, 2012

@Phil_Mowrey - Google has discontinued Google Buzz, Google Wave, and Google Lively. Buzz was part of Google+ when it first came out though…

They still run:

—OpenSocial (for developers):
http://code.google.com/apis/opensocial/

—Friend Connect (beta): 
http://www.google.com/friendconnect/

Brandon Luhring on Wednesday January 11, 2012

Google does know where you’re located based upon an IP address [numeric identifier specific to your computer and Internet service provider] so, while a tool bar or gmail account is certainly a factor, eventually it won’t really matter whether you’re logged into a personal Google account or not. With this information, they can track prior search history and determine what your future search results should be. If you search for “java” they can make assumptions about the intent of your search and that you are looking for coffee; whereas another person’s previous search results may show they’re looking for computer code.chris

Sebazt on Wednesday March 14, 2012

 
 

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