Has Google Plus Arrived at the Party?
By Mike Stiles on Feb 19, 2013
When Google Plus launched in 2011, Facebook was situated as the public’s social network of choice, with Twitter 2nd on users’ minds. It was Circles instead of Groups, it was +1 instead of “Like,” there was this little thing called “Hangouts” that was fun to mess around with.
But largely, it was viewed as a competing social network, and one that frankly didn’t offer much beyond what was available on the reigning champs. Still, most insiders and analysts knew we weren’t seeing Google Plus’ endgame.
With Google’s search dominance and suite of widely adopted applications, it had a lot to eventually bring to the social party. Well, they may have arrived at that party…and at a time when the correlation between social and search is strengthening.
The renewed buzz around Google Plus arose out of the Global Web Index study showing G+ passing Twitter for the #2 spot behind Facebook. It has 343 million users, about 25% of global Internet users, although some critics claim users logging in for other Google products like YouTube or Gmail are being counted. Google denies this.
But that integration of Google Plus with sister products and the social/search connection are no doubt the platform’s big differentiators.
Google Plus can do hyper-local thanks to its merging of Google Maps and Google Local Business Pages. A widely shared Fast Company article says there’s now little preventing it from competing with services like Yelp.
It goes on to say Google’s apps, with Google Plus, can address communication and collaboration. Hangouts, already in use by no less than the White House and easily started through Gmail, are recorded and stored to yet another Google product, YouTube, for archiving, reference and search benefits. “Easy and integrated” is a likely key to any influx of Google Plus users.
Alex Hinojosa, VP of Media Operations for EMSI, lays it out. “Google favors anything posted on Google Plus.” That means if you post a link on Google Plus and a connection is logged in and searches your keyword, your post will get a great spot in their Google search results.
The BrightEdge 2013 Search Marketer Survey of brands shows marketers are well aware that social engagement, such as 5 billion Google +1’s a day (2012 Internet in numbers), affects search rankings. Over 80% of respondents say they’ll focus more on social to improve rank this year. Over 75% say optimizing for local search will be more important this year. Might Google Plus have something to contribute to those efforts?
When asked which social channels they’ll focus on in 2013, search marketers kept Facebook #1 at 86%, but Google Plus was 2nd at 68%. Your social relationship management platform should not only incorporate G+, but provide beyond-native analytics to surface the social content that drives engagement and thus, better search results.
How close is Google Plus to moving from “that other social network” to “critical component” at your organization?