Over the summer, Google rolled out a BETA platform that was to rival its competition Facebook. They called it Google Plus (g+ or Google+). In September 2011, this network was unveiled to the public and it has spread like wildfire. There are many people and businesses that have never heard of Google Plus and rightfully so since it was so recently opened to the public.
However, this new social networking platform is growing by leaps and bounds daily. It reached an estimated 25 million users 10 times faster than it’s quickest rival (2 months vs. MySpace’s 20 months). It offers individuals as well as businesses a convenient and user friendly outlet to connect to their friends, their family and their business teams.
The Power of Circles
Plus has taken some of Google’s previous, less popular products like Profiles and Buzz and combines them with other features to create a social media package that is beginning to set it apart from Facebook – the company that most expected it to compete with. Actually, the Google+ feature set also competes with Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Skype. Whether or not Google+ succeeds (and we have every reason to believe that it will), Google+ will force innovation from its competitors – and that will require reevaluations of Social Media Marketing strategies.
Google Plus allows you to create circles that are as unique as you and your business. With circles you can categorize people and that allows you to target the content you send out. You wouldn’t want Group A who is all about eliminating sugar from their diets to get information intended for Group B about a new a Cream Puff recipe.
With circles, you’re in control of who gets what – and users don’t have to know what group you’ve placed them in. Those unhappy customers you need to give special attention to can be in their own group – without knowing it. On the other hand, the new ability of sharing groups and making their members public can also be useful.
Google Plus gives you a great way to share pictures with your circles. However, this goes beyond just “tagging” people. With Google Plus you get an image editor that allows you to edit and enhance the photos that you share. Ask your customers to upload photos of creative uses of your products or host a picture-related competition. Social media is all about customer interaction.
The best thing about face-to-face meetings is the personal connection – something that historically, the internet hasn’t provided very well. Now, the World Wide Web doesn’t have to limit your ability to connect with people. Google Plus gives you your own virtual hangout where you can video chat with up to 9 people in your circle at once. In addition, you can share documents as well. So if you need to have a quick business meeting with five of your virtual sales team, your Google Plus hangout is waiting for you. Want to host a live question and answer session with multiple customers or the press? With a little creative thinking the possibilities are almost endless.
Business has always been about networking, but social media is taking it to a whole new level, and businesses that are able to think creatively about building customer involvement and loyalty will succeed. Let me know if you’d like to set up a brainstorming session to jump-start or reinvigorate your social media marketing.
Note: Currently, Google only allows people to sign up (not businesses), so create an account for your CEO or sales representative instead of the actual business name. Besides, this gives the added benefit of a personal touch that some companies desperately need.