Five reasons to look again at Google+
B&T Magazine recently published an article by me on reasons to take a second look at Google+. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below:
Google Plus is currently the second-largest social network globally according to Global Web Index; it is growing faster than Facebook and has more users globally than LinkedIn and Instagram combined.
Marketers often think of this platform as a mere SEO booster, but two years since Google Plus launched ‘Pages’ for brands it has evolved into an integrated social ‘layer’ that works across Google’s many online properties.
Here are five reasons for brands to take a second look at Google Plus:
1. Google Plus is not Google’s version of Facebook: it’s not about stories and experiences. It’s about being part of a system based on a search engine that expands its power to different platforms that people use every single day. Think of it as a huge dashboard where you can manage your life online.
You have probably noticed that Google is everywhere, not only in search. Chrome? Check. YouTube? Check. Android? Check. Google Play? Check. Not to mention email, chat, maps, calendar, documents and so on. Thanks to Plus, Google knows about people’s contacts on Gmail, the YouTube videos they watch and comment on, the places they go on maps and how they spend their time online on the websites in Google’s ad network. This makes Plus a powerful insights tool for marketers.
2. There’s another reason why Google Plus is different from Facebook. Plus allows people to customize their experience: they can choose the content they want to read in their news feed and decide what is more relevant for them, without allowing an algorithm to do it on their behalf and filtering friends’ posts. Thanks to Circles, one of its key-features, they can also choose the right audience for a specific content they share.
This means: the user’s needs and interests come first on Plus. Google knows that users want to be more and more in control of their social experience, while Facebook makes decisions for users about what they do, or do not want to see or share in their news feed.
3. Google Plus offers different ways to engage with users and be closer to them. In Communities, people come together to have relevant conversations and discuss shared interests (music, art, tech, news, etc). This is an important opportunity for brands that want to listen to people’s opinions, participate in the conversation and drive it to a specific topic.
Within Communities, brands can also offer frictionless customer service to a specific audience without building a dedicated space on their website or forum. Hangouts help brands to engage with users on a more personal level: video chat, live show broadcast, virtual meet and greet, live support and much more can be implemented thanks to this powerful feature.
4. Google Plus obviously offers brands incentives in terms of SEO and visibility to sign up on its social network: it guarantees prime placement on the right-hand side of the search results, with photos and promotional posts to companies with Google Plus profiles. On top of business information, logo, location, website and so on, people can also follow and visit brand’s profile on Google Plus right from Google search results.
5. Google knows that content is king, and wants to make it go faster. With the new +Post ads, it allows brands to turn their Google Plus content into expandable display ads, and those ads can be shown as innovative and conversational display ads within the Google Plus interface. For example, a brand can take the opportunity to re-purpose pictures, videos, Hangouts and potentially show its content on over 2 million websites. This kind of feature is something that only a search leader such as Google can offer brands.
Google is constantly integrating Plus into its different products and services; this makes the people using them also active users of Google Plus. In fact, Google Plus provides an ecosystem for any business looking for massive potential engagement, promotional opportunities and importantly, SEO.
Giants like Cadbury, Ferrari, H&M and obviously Android are already interacting with people on Plus, with big success.
Based on the growth and integration of the platform over the past three years, Google will no doubt continue to expand its offering and opportunities for brands, large and not so large. Watch this space.