SIX MONTHS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF GOOGLE+, THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR MAJOR SEARCH ENGINE GIVES DIGITAL MARKETERS WHAT THEY’VE BEEN WAITING FOR. JUST BEFORE THE HOLIDAY SEASON KICKOFF, GOOGLE+ BRAND PAGES HAVE FINALLY COME TO FRUITION.
Weighing the +benefits: how will this effect your brand?
When anticipating the launch of a new social media platform this past summer, the first Google+ feature that caught my attention was the “hangouts” addition. Since lots of talk within the marketing industry has been increasingly focused around user-generated content (UGC) and the essence of monitoring and responding to consumers in real-time, what could be better than giving brands the option to use this feature as a virtual customer-service desk?
Better yet, an interactive spot to “hangout” and video chat with fans? Marketers will be able to see and speak to customers, answering inquiries and providing updates on promotions, etc. in a fresh and timely manner. What’s more is that this opens a visual space to create and build meaningful brand-consumer connections. In my opinion, it couldn’t get more personal nor easily accessible. Perhaps not even in the retail environment where response time is also of essence.
Taking it a step further, brands can use the “hangouts” to encourage conversation surrounding its products and services; and glean consumer opinion– important information to have handy when devising marketing strategies. (Are the online surveys days nearing an end?)
There’s also the more obvious benefit that your brand page will be linked to the biggest search engine among the top 3 (Google, Yahoo and Bing). Which means we’re all going to need the golden touch of an SEO Analyst when creating our + profiles.
How are Google+ Brand Pages organized?
One major plus for your brand is the “Circles” feature, which will essentially become synonymous with what marketing professionals refer to as market segments. This feature enables you to segment your target markets into circles, to be labeled and organized any way you want. By purchase history, demographics, geographics, and the list goes on.
…And the best feature?
“Direct Connect.” In terms of searchability, Google has provided an easier method for consumers to add brands–users simply type + followed by the brand name and they will land directly on the brand’s Google+ profile page.
Here’s where I landed after typing “+Macy’s” in the query:
Upon entrance into a new social media network, many businesses have complained of having trouble with authenticity, discovering that their brand name has already been taken. Thankfully, the Google experts have implemented a verification feature to weed out all the imposters.
What are the potential minuses?
Exclusivity, of course.
As of late, Google has granted these useful features to + pages for a select group of partner brands. Big ones like Pepsi and Toyota.
Modeled in the same way that Google lists websites on SERPs, in terms of popularity, legitimacy, content relevancy, design and whole bunch of blurry algorithms (I don’t want to get into “high math” here,) Google will measure algorithms and gradually enable pages for select brands accordingly.
But exclusivity is not necessarily a bad thing as far as the success of +brand pages is concerned.
I remember how elite it felt when I first created my Facebook profile from the university library. At that time, creating a Facebook account required a .edu email address to register and be a part of the cool crowd. This was a tease to those who weren’t in college, so once Facebook became accessible to any and everyone, any and everyone gradually joined. Since many consumers have yet to embrace the beauty of Google+, brands should now consider incentive for their current and future customers to join the network.
Exclusivity isn’t exactly permanent nor a threat to smaller brands either.
In a similar manner, Google+ first launched as invite-only. I have yet to see a statement in which Google openly states that these special features will always only be made available to big brands. My best guess is that in three months, brands of all sizes will be enabled the benefits of the elite.
In the meantime, the initial launch of Google+ for brand pages should, if anything, motivate businesses to revamp their websites.
Step it up with your web design. Refine your content. Add rich media that users are going to want to interact with. Redefine your image if you have to. Make your site more user-friendly.
It’s all just simple addition.