In the last few years, the online professional marketing industry has relied on a predominately three horse race in terms of social media. This race has, as we all know, been between LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, with the latter taking the crown as being the most popular.
However, back in June of this year, search engine giant, Google, entered the foray of social media with its Google+.
When it first launched, Google+ was seen as a mixture of the next big thing in terms of online marketing and an amalgamation of the three platforms which many of us have been using for the last couple of years, particularly the updates common with Twitter and Facebook, whilst the +1 was similar to Facebook’s “Like” feature.
According to Google’s own overview of Google+ there newest social media product (remember Google Buzz and Google Wave?): “Google+ makes connecting on the web more like connecting in the real world. Share your thoughts, links and photos with the right circles. Use easy, spontaneous video chat to strike up conversations with as many as nine people at once. Get everyone on the same page with fast, simple group chat. We’re very excited about the new approach to sharing we’ve created through Google+, but this is really just the beginning.”
Whilst their was a buzz around the launch of Google+ it seemed to be short lived with the internet giants making it “invite” only and not having a platform suitable for businesses to take advantage of, meaning that the three platforms of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter could continue to dominate this market.
That was until the first Monday of November 2011.
With little publicity or hype – compared to the launch of Google+ – Google brought out the newest building block of their platform, Google+ Pages, which launched with businesses including Burberry, O2, Save The Children, Mail Online and Mumsnet.
What is a Google+ Page?
Google promote their newest addition as a platform which “helps you build deeper relationships with customers by sharing your thoughts, links, photos and promotions with the right people at the right times. Want to offer a behind-the-scenes look at your product team in action? Highlight a unique sale? Get live, face-to-face feedback by holding multi-person video chats with customers all over the world? With Google+ Pages, you can share what matters in a way that matters most to your business”.
How Does Google+ Pages Work?
The primary function of Google+ Pages is to allow brands and businesses to post updates, images, videos and news about their company to their target audience, using the features which have been in use on Google+ since June.
However, along with enabling businesses to engage in conversation with customers by sharing information, news and images either in updates or via tailored messages to specific groups of their target audience, Google+Pages offers businesses who sign up the option to promote and measure their Google+ activity.
Promoting Your Google+ Presence:
Promoting your business on Google+Pages couldn’t be easier, since Google have introduced a Google+ badge which can be added to websites. This badge, allows visitors to a businesses website to connect with the business via Google+ without leaving the original site they visited.
Looking to promote your business or some of its news further? Why not add the +1 widget too? In a similar way to the “Like” button or “tweet” button common on many websites, the +1 widget will allow visitors to your site to share information which they like/found helpful.
Measuring Your Google+ Success:
Success via online marketing doesn’t come overnight, but this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be able to see our progress, and this is something which Google have realised, which could potentially put them ahead of other social media platforms.
Via various measurement tools which Google already has at its disposal, users of Google+Pages will be able to see what people are saying about their business, how many +1s they’ve received and how those +1s have influenced their business.
The measurement tools at the disposal of Google+ Page users, which allow access to such information, include:
Ripples: This tool lets businesses see their posts spread across Google+, along with providing information as to who is sharing and resharing it, and whose opinions matter. Using Ripples will allow businesses to identify influencers and add them to a circle.
Social Analytics: Whilst Ripples allows businesses see who is sharing and resharing information they’ve posted, Social Analytics provide reports about these +1s and how the engagement on their website changes when personalised recommendations helped their content stand out.
Social Analytics also allows businesses to see aggregate, anonymised demographic information about the Google users who have +1’d the site.
These are only a few of the tools which are currently available, with Google promising to introduce more in the coming weeks and months, making this new platform one to really watch out for and if you’re looking to get the edge on your competitors, it may even be a social media platform worth signing up for.
What do you think? Do you believe that Google+ Pages can really break the grip that LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook currently have on online professional marketing or do you think Google have left it too late? Share your thoughts in our comment section.