There’s no doubt Google made a huge splash when it unveiled Google+. With a reported 25 million users, it’s fastest growing social media network of all time. But the open question is whether the ripples from that initial splash will impact businesses' social media marketing strategy.
From the beginning, Google+ has promised to deliver business pages for brands, and even demanded companies remove pages set up as profiles.
But the built-up anticipation raises the following question: What exactly does Google Plus business pages need to woo brands, especially those in the grip of Facebook?
The answer, says Social Media Strategist Ted Rubin, is simple: Scale. “It is too early to be sure how this will truly scale,” Rubin says, “whether people have the bandwidth for another platform or willingness to change, and whether or not all the features will be overwhelming and distracting, or if it will be a new means of communication and social relationship building.”
Obviously, size matters. Google Plus has been growing at healthy clip, but its overall size is tiny compared to Facebook’s 750 million users. Nevertheless, experts agree Google Plus business pages could deliver features that social media marketers are desperate for, particularly those in b2b marketing.
Google’s number one advantage is its overwhelming 65.5% share of the search market. That’s a strong reason for any business to join Google’s social media strategy, says Eric Swayne, Director of Social Analytics and Insights for M/A/R/C Research. “We don’t have any special declaration from Google saying Google Plus will impact search,” Swayne says. “But we all know that it’s going to happen.”
Indeed, Google has already made its +1 button, which integrates with search results and Google Plus profiles, easier to embed on websites.
With such deep search capabilities available in-house, Google Plus has the potential to deliver businesses a much deeper context, says David Armano, Executive Vice President of Global Innovation and Integration at Edelman Digital. “Google Plus needs to offer a more comprehensive measurement dashboard that provides metrics which transcend the Google Plus environment,” Armano states. “Facebook analytics is focused primarily on Facebook and Twitter remains ad hoc. This is a big opportunity for both businesses and Google itself.”
For those using social media for b2b, this could be a boon. Because of the industry’s longer, complex sales cycles, the ability to measure the interaction of social and search fills in the missing piece of the b2b social media strategy. “Making Google Plus easy to manage via third party social business management platforms will ensure that it can be integrated at the Enterprise level,” Armano adds.
In many ways, the Google Plus user experience sits “between Facebook and Twitter,” says Armano. And if the Circles feature, which makes it easy to segment your connections, is extended to business pages, it could enable brands to do much more targeted messaging, Swayne says. “Google Plus is going to have to enable brands to be really good community managers,” he adds.
It’s clear that Google’s size and newfound social shape can give it a leg up in bringing brands to Google Plus business pages. But with Facebook already responding to the new competition, Google will have to move fast.
Will your business be on Google+? What do you want see Google Plus business pages deliver?