It’s rumoured that Google+ is opening to businesses this autumn – are you ready to add that to your social media mix? If you are already active on Twitter and Facebook, you may be wondering if you should bother with Google+ and what advantage it will bring you. Let’s get the first question out of the way first. When it comes to deciding whether you should be on Google+ the same factors that led you toe Twitter and Facebook will lead you there. Your customers. If you sell cheap hotel insurance, your customers may not be on Google+, but if you are active in the tech, online business, internet marketing and social media space, then some of them certainly will be. And wherever they are, you should be too.
When it launched over the summer, Google+ took the early adopters by storm as it offered an alternative to Facebook. Many people found as they used it that Twitter was still useful – with a large existing network and tight integration of a range of tools, they couldn’t afford to bypass it. However, Facebook was a different matter and some high profile bloggers made public announcements about ditching Facebook and moving all their public interaction to Google+. It’s still too early to tell whether this was the right move but it does indicate that some public figures at least feel that Google+ offers a robust and, importantly, more trusted alternative to the ever-changing Facebook interface and privacy regulations.
Privacy – Solved!
Privacy was a big factor for existing users and will no doubt be a biggie for business too. Google+ here wins over Facebook with its transparency. For each update you post you have to manually decide who you will share it with, whether that’s a single person or a group (known as Circles). The circles allow a hitherto unparalleled degree of communication customization. Some people have circles that they follow. In business, this could be the movers and shakers of your company or industry. They also have circles for sharing, which in your business might be your employees or business contacts. It’s possible to share with multiple circles at once, if you wish. Setting up your circles correctly will be one of the most important tasks you can undertake when Google+ business profiles become available.
From a customer-centric point of view, Google+ will also have another advantage – the ability to interact with your customers through video Hangouts. These are group chats for up to 10 people. Imagine being able to tell a core group of customers face to face about your new launch – or get their feedback on a product that’s in development, or simply solve their problems with a little human interaction. The most switched on businesses already provide instant customer support via Twitter, but this takes it to another level. Add to that the built-in search facilities, as good as you would expect from a search giant, and the ability to save and track these via Sparks, and you also have an excellent tool for researching what your customers are reading in the news and sharing. It gives you the possibility of becoming one of the most responsive companies in your industry.
And there’s another reason why you can’t afford to ignore Google+. In fact, you should already have set up your personal profile so you’re already familiar with the tools when they come online. Google has clearly signalled the importance of profiles for credibility – as CEO of your company, you will be able to link your personal profile to your business one. People will be able to see who you are online – and that can have major competitive advantages. A visible, responsive business is a successful business. When the time comes, fill out your profile as completely as possible and link to all your online properties. For those who run company blogs, there’s another aspect to look after – authorship. Google is trying to make it easier for web users to find verified content – claiming the content you write for your company via authorship markup is also important. Don’t wait to jump on the Google+ bandwagon – test it now. After all, would you bet against Google?