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What marketers need to know about Google+

With another social network being launched by Google, the leader in search and most things Internet, the world is abuzz (sorry) with what Google+ means. Well, if you're a marketer, you'd better get off your recliner and pay attention to what it means to you and your clients.
In its first month, Google+ surpasses 10 million users and the +1 button has already been added to more sites than the "tweet this" button.

Third attempt


This is Google's third attempt at a social/collaboration platform. Its first attempt, Google Wave, did not make much of a... well... wave as a collaboration platform. Google's Buzz failure, among other things, was attributed to how it required a different social behaviour than what users have become accustomed to. Buzz worked; it just didn't work for us.

In developing Google+, the search giant has taken advantage of what it learned from the Buzz and Wave failures and has combined it with the third mover advantage, following Facebook and Twitter's massive successes in the social space.

Google has essentially opened up a network that offers the best social features of Twitter and Facebook, the best bookmarking and aggregating of Del.icio.us and Digg, all with the added benefit of integrating every other successful Google product.

Yes, Google+ is a monster.

There are a few large influences that Google+ will have on the social web that marketers need to take note of:
  • It's going to read your mind


    Google+ is built in and around the concept of the semantic web, where machines are able to develop an understanding of the semantic, or meaning, of the information to it (what some people are calling Web 3.0).

    It may be more web jargon but what Web 3.0 represents is important. It's the holy grail of message management and targeted communication. Google has already started doing this with its content network advertising by targeting advertising and content that is most relevant to you (including what you've searched for).

    With your integrated social profile now adding to the personalised information that Google can reference, the relevance and targeting of its content will take an incredible leap forward. It will know what you want to search for before you do. In case you're unsure, this is a good thing if you want more relevant results.

    Previously, Google was able to decode much of your likes and dislikes based on how you used its search engine, but your social profile goes a lot deeper, giving Google a great view into what type of content it should be targeting to you.

    With the integration of search and social, Web 3.0 is a close reality. With the +1 button, Google will filter search data, music you want to buy and products your friends recommend, all through the power of your social profile. Yes, it's kinda scary but what the social web has been promising for a long time, Google is now delivering.

  • +1+1=3


    Google is one the most visited websites on the planet, and tops the South African charts. Optimising your site for the Google spiders, buying PPC advertising, and making sure your brand and your website's content is easily found when searching is something all marketers are (or should) be doing.

    We're currently in the age of organised content, and Google is taking us one step further into the age of hyper-connected relevance. The +1 button has already been added to more sites than the "tweet this" button. It took one month. Go ahead and gasp; I know I did.

    Recommend a website, a link, or a brand and you help it gain traction on the ever-difficult Google ranking system. Google says +1s on search will add weight to the link in the search algorithm and make it more relevant. It will also know who from your networks +1'ed a link, knowing that you're more likely to find a link relevant that has been +1'ed by your friends (a recommendation). The simple social idea of recommendations by friends has made its way into search. Click!

  • It's not new, but it's nothing you've ever seen before


    Google is everywhere. It doesn't just have fingers in pies; it owns the pie factory and has fists full of fingers in other people's pies, too. Google+ will integrate with and bring in features from every property the search monster owns, bringing sites we use every day into our social profiles - products such as Google Maps & Places (location), Picasa (picture sharing), Hangouts (Call), YouTube (video sharing), Android App (mobile), Blogger (blogging platform).

    These are some massive platforms on their own. We already use many (if not most) of them, which means we don't have to learn anything new; it's something squillions of people already use. Ingenious.

  • Your brand and all of the Google+ awesomeness


    What you should really be getting excited about is how this all starts coming together. Google has started testing business pages with a few brands but so far I haven't tried it, so I can't comment much on what it is offering. Like any good blogger, I can speculate, though:
    • More analytics than you can shake a stick at. Imagine the insight Google can generate, once all these properties are linked and we can see how many people are recommending your search, interacting on your Google+ page, where they found you, and how they ended up at your store.

    • Google is integrating Checkout (online purchasing engine) to link to your Gmail account to a check-out system, which means companies can track where customers come from. Yes, please.

    • Integrating the best it has to your brand:
      • Google Maps & Places (location) - your store location is on Google Maps and you've registered the stores. You can add QR code redemption via your Google+ social page and integrate which of your friends recommend this restaurant and what other users say about it on their Google+ pages.

      • Hangouts (call) - there's something in here for live broadcasts/customer service/dipstick research with Google+ brand fans.

      • YouTube (video) - video on Google+ with likes and links now integrate seamlessly with your Google+ page.

      • Android App (mobile) - we're waiting for the OS app to be approved, but it's coming, and it's going to be huge. Location-based search (LBS) integrated into social is highly relevant.

      • Blogger (blog) - your blog and your brand page seamlessly integrate. Score.
Overall, Google+ is going to make social (the revolution to the web) searchable, bringing two of the largest web functions together. It's going to add the most natural of human interactions (recommendations and social circle sharing) to every aspect of what you do.

As a marketer you cannot ignore this huge shift in the way the web is being used.

If you aren't yet convinced, then simply Google it; it has already hit 10 million users.

About John Beale

Having spent several years developing marketing strategies across digital and traditional media, John Beale found his passion on the social side of digital and is now a digital strategist at Cerebra Communications (www.cerebra.co.za). His days are spent developing social media strategy and campaigns for clients and nurturing an unhealthy passion for cars. He blogs at jtbeale.com, talks everything motoring on the ZACarShow podcast (www.zacarshow.co.za) and tweets as @jtbeale on Twitter.
Comment
Simone Puterman
By the way, there is a nasty bug that Google needs to fix which affects Google Talk (gtalk) contacts. If you were once on Buzz, and you've now signed up for Google+, you may find that some of your regular gtalk contacts have been blocked and you can't unblock them from gtalk itself.A solution is to check your Google+ Circles, to see if a Blocked circle has been created. Then have fun unblocking those contacts (it's a buggy process as well).See responses to a Google support forum: .
Posted on 19 Jul 2011 15:19
murray andeson-ogle
I agree that Google+ should be the way of the future. The one problem is that it means having to 'learn' a new social tool. Facebook has rocked because, it has grown organically from a social friend network into a business tool. The rapid growth of +buttons can be attributed to that Marketers and Techies are early adopters but it will mean little if people are to apathetic to join a new tool that is all powerful. The power and love you profess for Google + all sounds a little Orwellian. That said, Google + is clever in that is allready integrated into your web experience and coupled with useful google tools it sounds like the logical social network to embrace. But who said people were logical. We all use google and google+ glares at me like a greedy starling eyeing out my slap chips.That scares me a bit.
Posted on 19 Jul 2011 16:02
Robert Visser
But it's reached its capacity, no one will be able to check it out as of yet, you can only do a site tour and ask them to notify you once they accept new members...bummer.
Posted on 19 Jul 2011 16:18
Tafadzwa Alvin Matewa
its unfortunate it reached its capacity before we tried it out
Posted on 20 Jul 2011 11:17
Alain Wong
Hi John, thanks for the great article. Indeed, Google+ is a monster and once they start combining social with search, it's going to make a big impact on marketing.I work at a social search startup called Wajam, and we're a step ahead with social search. We already allow users to skip the Google/Microsoft/Facebook social war by showing you search results from your friends on Twitter/Facebook directly in your favorite browser, and we'll be launching Google+ integration very soon. Since Wajam is a browser plugin, users don't have to change their web habits.Google has tried to do social search in the past, but they haven't succeeded yet, and we think we have the best solution so far. If you'd like to hear more, I'm sure our CEO Martin-Luc Archambault would love to chat with you— he can give you more breaking news on what we're working on.Thank you for your time :)Alain Wong | Community Managerhttp://wajam.com | wajamalain@wajam.com
Posted on 20 Jul 2011 18:59
Charles Stroud
Google+ will only be rolling out it's business pages to the Ford Motor Company (http://bit.ly/mZ0vXY) at present. The best social media advice provided thus far - as an individual, represent your brand. Individuals and brands contract you based on what both your personal and company social media presence represent.Individuals and brands must understand that there is no substitute for good content generation (see http://gplus.to/ChrisBrogan as an example. It's important that those of us in the know educate business in South Africa so we can compete with the rest of the world.To Murray Andeson-Ogle, if you don't grasp Google+, come speak to John Beale or myself. I don't know about John, but I'm more than willing to explain Google+ to you. Robert Visser and Alvin Taffy, get in touch with me at charles.stroud4@gmail.com if you still want an invite to Google+.
Posted on 27 Jul 2011 14:01

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