Late last month Google opened the floodgates to the media, and to a limited number in the public for beta use, its social driven technology Google+. I’m sure you’ve heard…
With all the buzz flying around you might be wondering what to do. I am. Some businesses chomping at the bit to jump on the bandwagon and digital strategists are already announcing how businesses should use it. The real question is, how will this impact your business? And if it does provide a benefit, how should a business be using this? As the beta experiment with “people” unfolds, Google themselves will be in the discovery stage of finding answers to some of these questions. Yes, it’s Google but their products are no different from any other start-up. You have an idea of what your product will bring to the table, but once you put it in the hands of humans its uses become indefinite and…unpredictable. Google has had many product fails in the making, Buzz was exactly a big hit. It seems they are taking Google+ more seriously than any of their other smaller experiments. It’s a big deal.
When we consider at this early stage how this will impact business we can take some educated guesses based on who Google is.
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Google has never claimed to be a social network but they are ready to harness the power of social networking. Social input, yes that means us the people, lend context and relevance to information through our opinion and personal connections. Social sharing is a huge mode of information transfer. Sure the “highway” is the Internet and it provides the technology to bring information/content to market. How that information spreads to people takes a street (sometimes a dirt road) to travel to relevant destinations in the form of a Like, Send, Email, or ShareThis button etc. It also happens through paid advertising. With that context let’s consider business impact:
- Distribution of Your Content Across the Web: The new social sharing button Google+1 is already hitting publications and joining the standard set of sharing buttons: Like, Tweet, Email this. You will want to include this on any online content destined for distribution.
- Where You Store and Share Images and Video: While Flickr is a favorite among many other options out there for posting and displaying images we may see a shift to Google+ with its multi-media features that provide unlimited photo storage, automated uploads from mobile devices, increased relevancy of sharing of such content to distinct groups. For a brand that = targeted segments. We might see integration come into play, particularly with platforms Google owns like YouTube.
- Yet Another Brand Communication Channel: It’s not clear to us, maybe not even to Google, how brands will participate in this new world. What we do know is they’ve asked us to hold off. Like Facebook, they do not want brands posing as people playing in the sandbox until there is a relevant role for them (as Facebook provided with business Pages). In fact, Google has stated that we can anticipate a Facebook Page type service for businesses in the near future. Eventually you will be able to add Google+ to the list, along with Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, of properties your community manager must moderate. It will bring new complexities with the possibility of video chat or other more direct lines to customer communication that will exceed any expectations a “Wall” can produce.
- Socially Relevant Search and Advertising: This is the point. Facebook has been eating away at Google’s advertising profits as Facebook ads which contain an “earned media” element become more targeted and popular. Social networking is one way advertisers get permission to access your most personal data and use it to provide on-spot offers and content. If Google+ is adopted by the mass market which will require an insurmountable level of trust from the user and value in return, they will have a new array of sophisticated advertising products to offer businesses. And, potentially paired with direct communication to customers.
Should you jump on the bandwagon? As a business not yet. For now, sit back and watch the platform evolve. As an individual who runs a business, get in the beta group and participate. Be a user, it’s the best way to learn and create a good marketing strategy. Google+ is all about integration so there will be many surprises along the way.