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Brand Thinking Blog
Posted on December 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm
When Google+ launched last summer, companies eager to take part in the web’s newest social media app were told Google+ was not yet open for business. The wait is now over: A few weeks ago, Google unveiled its +1 Business Pages. This application enables companies to participate in Google’s social network much like they would on Facebook, by setting up a brand page. Coca-Cola, Ford and Bank of America have already jumped on the +1 bandwagon.
But should you? Why bother with another social media site when you already have an established brand presence on Facebook and a whole flock of Twitter followers?
Some key differences set +1 apart from rival Facebook that could make it attractive to businesses. One thing to bear in mind is that Google gets over 1 billion visitors a day (though as is the case with Facebook, Google is a pay-per-click, meaning that the number of clicks still defines the price but does not necessarily reflect brand exposure). Consumers can simply enter the firm name +1 in the Google search window and they will be ushered immediately to the firm’s name and logo in a drop-down menu that links to the company’s site. The direct linking of Google+ business to Google search may mean that SEO will change. As Forbes.com explains, “Instead of being an aggregator or a channel to find blog posts about your firm, G+ will instead be both the platform and means of distribution for content.”
What really sets Google+ apart from Facebook, however, is its “circles” feature. Essentially, the circles are groups of contacts separated by categories such as friends, colleagues, etc. The importance of this feature to businesses is that they can create circles specific to their marketing targets. As Andrew Cherwenka in the Huffington Post explains: “Brands can create robust content calendars with posts intended just for certain cities, ages, gender and languages. Imagine Pizza Hut sending a family dine-in update to 35-year-old mothers in Toronto and a take-out offer just to 22-year-old guys in Thunder Bay. To brands, that’s gold.”
Additionally, Google users can give your brand page the +1 mark of approval (similar to Facebook’s “like” button), singling you out as a trusted search result. So if, for example, your firm specializes in antitrust, you could post blog entries discussing legal developments in antitrust or information on cases won by your firm. Users can potentially give you the thumb’s up by clicking the icon, indicating you are a tried-and-true source of information in this area.
There is no denying Google+ has tremendous potential. But will it be realized? Some commenters have noted, despite its intriguing features, Google+ business pages have not yet attracted the large numbers of users Facebook has. More worrying is a definite decline in activity ON Google+. It may be that consumers are simply too used to Facebook to be that interested in Google+. But it is early days. If Google+ catches on, its +1 business pages could become a powerful marketing tool. Stay tuned.
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