It’s time to reconsider Google+.
I know what you’re thinking (and reading), but in spite of the criticism that has pummeled Google+ for months, the network still provides many opportunities for the clever brands out there.
In the 11 months since the launch of Google+, it seems that everyone has taken a swing at the network, panning everything from user experience to past attempts such as Google Buzz. In spite of these criticisms, Google+ success stories are bubbling (or perhaps more accurately, +1-ing) to the top.
We’ve seen a number of updates to Google’s search offering, which illustrate that Google+ is not so much a copycat social network, but a social layer – blanketing many of Google’s offerings, increasingly integrating search and social in each update. Google+ offers more than just another status box to update: here are five reasons why you should reintroduce your brand to Google+.
1) Search Rankings
A quick search on Google, and you’ll notice that the search engine giant is favoring its own social network in personalized search, as well as the newly added Knowledge Graph.
In the days that followed the debut of Google+’s brand page offering in November 2011, companies that jumped on board saw their Google+ pages appear on page one of search results, outranking other pages and domains that had spent years building search credibility. This development is key to any brand looking to own its first page in search results.
It has also become apparent that Google’s algorithm factors a Google+ presence into organic search rankings. Tests have shown that links shared and +1’d through Google+ increase placement amongst organic search results, especially when the brand has a high number of followers. These factors can be leveraged with blog posts or new products.
2) New audience
According to a study by Temple University, Google+ users are young (50 percent are younger than 24), mostly male and love to share status updates. Facebook, on the other hand, finds that most of its users are above the age of 45, are 57 percent female and very engaged with photos. These differences in demographics allow brands to reach a different audience on Google+. Consider using unique messaging for each social property with the platform’s demographics in mind.
3) Investment of Resources
The backlash of negative G+ reviews has done little to dampen Google’s investment in the network. We have seen redesigns, new hires, refreshed features, and search launches (Search Plus Your World, Knowledge Graph) which demonstrate that Google is committed to Plus and will continue to improve the product.
One recent product of note for brand purposes is the revamped Hangout, now called Hangouts on Air. Hangouts, already a hit with PR pros (including our own Richard Edelman), as well as musicians, fantasy football leagues and anyone else looking to connect online, has ramped up allowing Hangouts operators to broadcast publicly, evaluate viewer volume and record/re-share the hangout later. Hangouts on Air has implications for any brand looking to span the transmedia cloverleaf and access national, or even global markets.
4) Consumer Experience
The Google+ user experience is improving daily, with the continuous goal of encouraging it’s vast membership (170+MM users) to engage on a regular basis. A few examples:
- Mobile Integration: The Google+ app automatically uploads photos and videos from your phone with Instant Upload. Additionally, Mobile Messenger allows for group messaging and even the bonus functionality to turn group chats into Hangouts.
- Incorporated into Gmail: Google+ posts from your friends are appearing in Gmail correspondence more often.
- Circles: A clear differentiator during the launch of Google+, this feature remains a strong point, allowing users to segment their online interactions – keeping mom and dad out of the conversation when necessary.
5) Third Party Apps to Manage and Measure
Six third party apps have partnered with Google+, helping community managers securely publish messages, manage circles and measure effectiveness through engagement indicators with Google Analytics. These tools, plus the multiple admin option on branded pages, streamline how these pages are managed.
According to Google, “[The partnership] companies were selected based on their extensive experience helping brands and businesses manage and assess their presence on social networks.” These measurement tools will help answer the all-important, “What’s the return on my investment?”; a key component to any social campaign.
Google+ isn’t the final answer to all your social media needs, but its capabilities and support from Google can address some very important online branding strategies. Go on, dust off that Google+ login and see what the social network social layer can do for your brand.
Image Credit: Sean MacEntee