Google+ for Brands.
Opening up for brands has given Google+ a welcome shot in the arm for the network and thrusts it in to the limelight of brands wanting to engage with their audience in new ways.
Google+ has grown to some 40m users globally and has been heralded as the more open champion of social networking by allowing you to have full control of the data you provide and more importantly be able to download with ease.
“For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you. Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face.”
Vic Gundotra, Senior VP Social Engineering.
Brands have only been allowed to launch on Google+ in the last 24 hours so they are for all intents and purposes using them as if they are Facebook pages. But that would simply be a gross misuse of the functionality that Google+ has to offer.
The key benefits right now for brands are:
- Circling – to share the right message with the right group of people.
- Hangouts – to get closer to your customer and talk face to face via video
- Search – Increasing your search ranking on Google through the +1 button (will rank higher than your Facebook page)
- The integration with Google’s own properties.
- No ads around your brand page. Google will not put adverts on their pages.
What does a brand page look like?
I’ve added all the brands I know of to a circle on Google+.
Check them all out here:
How do Brand pages differ to Personal pages on Google+?
- Pages can’t add people to circles until the page is added first or mentioned. Learn more.
- The default privacy setting for elements on your page profile is public.
- Pages have the +1 button.
- Pages can’t +1 other pages, nor can they +1 stuff on the Web.
- Pages don’t have the option to share to ‘Extended circles’.
- Pages don’t receive notifications via email, text or in the Google bar.
- Local pages have special fields that help people find the business’ physical location.
What is a Google+ Circle and how can it work for brands?
The process of grouping people, billed as ‘circling’ them instead of ‘friending’ is a great way of filtering who you share content with. So it’s easy to create circles for close friends, clients, colleagues and acquaintances whilst sharing separate content with each. Granted you can do this in Facebook but it’s more of a time consuming process.
I fully expect to see brands taking advantage of the grouping of people interacting on the page.
A few potential uses for Google+ circles: employees, employees split out by region, management, clients, employees, fans, news, offers, top spenders and jobs.
However, Pages can’t add people to circles until the person they want to add has added them first or mentioned them. So it’s very much the same as the Twitter follow mechanic. After there’s a reciprocal follow, you can direct message each other. And remember that customers can’t see which circle you put them in. So go right ahead and segment them in to priority, repeat customers, advocates, target or competitors.
Hanging out with your customers.
The ‘Hangout’ feature could potentially be the most powerful feature that Google+ has in order to bring you and your customers closer together. A Google Hangout allows your brand and up to 20 of your fans to join a video call, widescreen and for free. You could set aside an hour each week day/week to allow customers to ask you questions direct and bring them closer to you as a business. You could interview candidates for jobs for different regions of your business all through Google Hangouts with crystal clear picture.
Macy’s have kicked off the launch of their page on Google+ by giving 9 of their followers a chance to join a hangout with the company’s editor and style blogger, Leah Chernikoff by asking them to post style questions which Leah will then choose the best and invite them to the hangout.
This could be huge for influential figures to be brought closer to their customers / fans. Imagine if you could join a Hangout with a movie star and interview them via video as part of a competition. Or you could hero a member of your staff to be championed, showing clients / customers your office and introducing everyone.
You will be able to search for brand pages simply by putting + and the brand name in to Google search and will give the searcher the option to automatically follow that Google+ Page.
We’re in the process of rolling out Social Media Council on Google+ and we see this as being a valuable platform for customer service, internal discussion between regions, HR (Hangouts), company news, segmenting our followers by region and special interest and peer to peer networking (Circles).
What are the implications of not being present?
This isn’t going to directly replace Facebook but it certainly has a few key benefits going for it which I’m sure Google will be keen to exploit and make the most of. Google+ could be seen to be more of a marketing engagement tool and ideal for businesses that want to engage on a deeper level but not to have friends and inane chat and updates.
The integration of Google Analytics, YouTube, Adwords, location based targeting, the displaying of rich media content and the impact it will have, give us reason to believe that there’s a lot more to come.