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What’s all the fuss with Google+?

December 19, 2011

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Google+ 360. Source: Mashable

I was recently tasked with researching Google+, its rollout of brand pages and creating a MarketWave brand page. I became quickly enamored with the new social media network, spending countless hours reading and experimenting with it. I quickly decided to follow some of my favorite brands (how ‘bout them Cowboys?) and studied how they are successfully using Google+.

During my research I discovered some advantages and disadvantages to maintaining the social media network. I also delivered a presentation via Prezi to my colleagues in which I highlighted some of my discoveries. Below is an overview featuring some highlights from that presentation.

Google+ looks like a simplified version of Facebook (ignoring the new Timeline layout of course) and its brand pages allow brands, products, companies and groups the opportunity to develop a professional presence on the social network. There are currently no ads on the network, which creates a genuine and minimalistic look and feel.

Although Google+ has significantly fewer users than other heavy-hitting social media networks (Facebook has 800 million, Twitter has 175 million and Google+ has 40 million) its user-base is driven by professionals with informational and industry-specific content. This allows brands to create a more direct relationship with their audiences.

The “Hangouts” feature is a unique video chat that allows brands to directly engage with their audiences, receive immediate feedback and provide exclusive content. Check out this example from The Black-Eyed Peas backstage before their concert. Michael Dell has also said that Dell is looking into using Hangouts as a customer support and sales function.

However, there is currently only one page admin allowed which can create an issue with small and large brands. There are also no contests or promotions allowed, making it tricky for marketers to encourage page interaction by providing an incentive to their customers.

The key benefit of maintaining a Google+ brand page is increasing a brand’s search engine optimization through the four call-to-action options:

  • Circling – categorizing your friends and followers into specific groups; check out how TIME Magazine is testing out “topic circles.” Circles provide brands the ability to deliver relevant content to segmented groups within business’ target audience.
  • Plussing – an indication of liking or agreeing with a post or page
  • Commenting – writing your thoughts on someone’s post
  • Sharing – posting a previous post on others’ profiles

Google+ is a simple, user-friendly network that doesn’t need to be overthought. Jump right in, experiment with it and let us know how you like it. Now that you know what the fuss is about, what are you waiting for? Hop on the Google+ bus!

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