With the evolvement of web 2.0 social media has become increasingly popular to the point where 62% of the world’s 2billion internet users are using it frequently. Gone is the time where setting up a social profile for your business is optional, it’s now required for two reasons:
- Marketing; Social media helps entice customers to your website. It can also harness the passion of your customers which will help drive purchases and buzz.
- Support/ Customer Service; Social media engages customers directly and deals with any issues in a straightforward and quick manner. This helps drive down the cost of service and will help build a better experience for all of your customers.
Google+ already has over 250 million users proving its latest foray into the world of social networking is here for the long haul. It has some key advantages for businesses over its rivals such as Facebook and Twitter who provide a platform to promote content and interact with customers but not much else. Google+, however is a fully integrated search and social profile that will become central to Google’s future identity and how we find and share information. It has already begun this transition with the integrations of its services such as Gmail, Reader and YouTube.
So how does Google+ help you?
Integration into Search:
Google+ members can search against both the broader web and their own Google+ social graph. This means circles, business pages, posts and pictures will be integrated into the search engine. Members will be able to search information from their network of associates that is private and only shared with them as well as information publically available on the internet.
The popular Google Places profile for businesses has also been integrated into the brand. Now called Google+ local it allows for a simple way to discover and share local information about businesses including a 30-point rating system and recommendations. This is fully integrated into Google search and Maps allowing for all your profiles to be merged and managed on a single page.
The ‘+1’ button:
Google’s share button, the +1 can be embedded on your website and acts as a public recommendation by appearing in search results .They are tied to specific landing pages similar to tweets or likes and are tallied separately for each page. When +1ing a webpage you get the opportunity to share your +1 with your Google+ circles .Interestingly, they affect each page’s Quality Score, which could help you PPC campaigns.
The +1 button also has some SEO impact too. Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant that content from strangers. For Instance, a film review from an expert may be useful, but a review from a friend who shares your tastes could be even better. Due to this, +1’s are a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user query.
Even after its rapid growth, Google+ is still significantly smaller than other social networks and a much lower percentage of businesses have a presence there. Subsequently, early uptake can be a distinct competitive advantage as you have the opportunity for a much larger market penetration.
It also had the advantage of monitoring its competitors to see what features work and what did not. This means Google+ is more of a hybrid incorporating functions that worked in Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin and building on them with its own distinct range of functionalities that sets it apart. It has perfected the use of circles to share data with different groups of peoples as well as integrating elements of Skype with Hangouts, Zagat with reviews and ratings with Quora which has the ability to share questions and answers.
Google+ is more than a social network; it’s a social extension of Google’s search engine. If your business wants to develop both search and social strategies, Google+ is becoming a vital tool that should be seriously considered by all businesses.