When Google+ was launched in June 2011 it created all the usual hype that one would expect. The geeks had a new toy to play with and the media had something new and shiny to write sensational headlines about. The later even proclaimed Google+ to be the “fastest growing social network in history”.
But back in 2011 most of us in B2B marketing were still trying to figure out the best way to allocate our time and resources into making Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook work harder for us. Getting our heads around all these new terms and features like “hangouts” and “circles” required more effort that most of us were prepared to give at the time.
Two years down the line and much has changed about Google+. Credit where it’s due, the guys and girls at Google have stuck by their prodigal son and he’s returned with a level of maturity that few would have expected back in the summer of 2011.
For those of us in B2B marketing, Google+ represents the future. If you’re not using it, then let this article be a kick-up-the-ass to set up a company page and get cracking.
So why now I hear you asking? What’s so cool about Google+?
1: It’s a time-saver
On a very basic human and commercial level, Google has really worked hard at integrating some very neat and pretty easy-to-use features in the Google+ stack.
While these may be unfamiliar at first, if you give them a go you’ll find them pretty intuitive. Whilst many of us might be familiar with using social tools like Eventbrite, Skype and Yammer they lack integration. With Google+ you can simply use their comparable products like Google+ events, Hangouts and “work” circles. Simply put, the Google+ stack saves you time and money.
In fact Google+ is fast becoming a social layer across all Google properties. Google have quietly gone about their business and done some fantastic integration across; Gmail, Maps, Android, Wallet, Chrome, Search, Offers, Play, Adwords and events.
I’m no rocket scientist, but even to me what the bearded wonders at Google are basically saying is that Google+ is Google.
2: It’s relevant
To be 100% clear, Google+ isn’t Facebook! Google+ is far less of a “Pets and babies” photo posting social network. It’s more credible and relevant for business than any of the other social platforms. What you tend to find are lots of interesting people posting interesting content. Somewhere in that mix are customers you want to engage with. Your job is to find them.
3: It’s getting bigger
Despite the media branding Google+ a failure it grew in terms of active usage by 27% to 343 million users (Source: Global Web Index: December 2012). This makes it the second behind Facebook and ahead of its key competitors like Twitter and LinkedIn. In a nutshell don’t ignore it.
4: It’s Circletastic
One of the key features of Google+ is called Circles. Circles allow you to categorise customers and prospects into multiple segments, allowing for more personalised, relevant and intimate conversations. More importantly, because users can circle your company page, it effectively means they have ‘opted-in’ to receive information from you without the painful task of filling in forms. Combining these two features is where the real targeting opportunity lies for B2B brands.
5: It’s super friendly on organic search
By far and away one of the most powerful benefits of getting behind Google+ is that if you post articles on the platform your content will be ranked higher that content posted elsewhere. Also, because of the tight integration with Google Search engine your posts are treated more like regular web pages and will therefore rank higher in search results.
6: It’s cool for B2B
It might sound a little trite but over the past few months I’ve really started to find Google+ pretty cool. The Hangouts feature, although a bit weird is definitely full of potential: business meetings, research, product demos, customer service, you can even post a hangout video on YouTube.
It seems that finally after all this time in social wonderland here is a platform that really makes a difference in a business context.
Oh yeah and finally lets not forget the fascination that Google Glasses will bring to the world of marketing. I’m ready and waiting.
Add me to your Circle on Google+ and lets hangout.
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