This week Google announced business accounts on Google + . It had been much mooted and Google had even played down the suitability of Google + when it first launched the beta-roll-out of the social network, but now it has given the business world a tool tweaked and designed specifically for them.
So Google + for business is here, but why should you jump and open up a Google + page for your company? Here’s 6 reasons we think may convince you:
1. Consumers now understand Social Media
When Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn first launched, the world was new to the buzz word of ‘social media’. While the geeks seemed to grasp the concept and possibilities immediately (after years spent in chat-rooms and internet forums) the majority of the population didn’t. Times have changed.
The majority of the ‘buying’ consumers understand social media now and in fact – proven by the success of money-saving schemes like Groupon and LivingSocial – they want to use social media when they make a purchase. Google coming late to the party should benefit from not only years of understanding how people use the internet but also from people understanding how the internet and social media can help them.
2. Google + Circles improves on Facebook Friends and Twitter Lists
It would have been amiss of Google to not look at Facebook and Twitter and see how it could improve on them. In Google + Circles it appears to have made the biggest improvements. Circles is a feature more intuitive and easier to use to segment ‘connections’ than the offerings from rivals.
It offers you to the chance to assign characteristics to every person within your network – without them seeing the label you are giving them – to help you plan campaigns, new projects, ideas, etc. Circles also help you to ‘listen’ to more relevant chitter-chatter than Twitter or Facebook. So, if like many, you have lots of interests, lots of projects and lots of fingers in pies you can now focus your attentions on each and every circle as and when you require.
3. Users will come to love the customisation and management tools
Google + is still young. Sign-ups were initially strong but at times it has looked like a ghost-town frequented only by the most hard-core of social media consultants. Yet Google + Business is the perfect kick-start to send more curious people across to get involved. With businesses likely to begin testing the service with coupons and offers, so more and more will want to keep track and join in.
Once there, once getting more of the experience they will probably stay too. Google + Sparks is the management tool we probably never knew we all needed. It offers the perfect way of managing your array of RSS feeds, Google Alerts, News etc, that you like to use to keep abreast of your industry or even monitoring your brand. Yes there are other tools out there, but if you can access it within your social media network, why bother. Google is the master at bringing things together and Google + is about to prove that.
4. Forget expensive webinar programmes use Google +
Twitter topic hours, Facebook embedded Q&As, one-off webinars. The business world is becoming more and more atuned with them and Google + Video Hangouts offers the chance to put on a show for free and open it to the world. OK there is a limit of 10 participants and a 90 minute check-in but we expect that will expand over time. In the meantime, that’s the perfect number to test out within your business for a teleconference or in-house webinar.
5. Informal is the new way to do business
In Victorian times, a lack of full attire was a reason not to do business, but in the modern world even dress-down Friday is a hit with those running our financial hubs. You don’t need a suit and tie to be good in business and social media is just the same. If it works, consumers will love it – however informal. Actually consumers love informality more in most cases, it adds a personal touch.
In terms of formality LinkedIn is probably the most formal of all social networks – but even it is changing. Twitter is probably next followed by Facebook. Google + probably comes in between Twitter and Facebook. It does have a sleeker, more corporate feel to it, but the way people share, the way they do business is ‘kooky’. It’s more like a ‘far-out’ surfer’s shop than a bank but any business can gain traction from it.
It can be no coincidence that in the months leading up to the launch of Google +, Google has been making more and more of social media activity and how it affects the ranking of your sites. The +1 button is almost an integral part of Google + and the fact that it was all built by the most popular search engine in the world suggests not being on Google + is not the best way to improve your SEO. Google has yet to confirm that preference of its own social network is being given, but to be fair, it would be a poor business decision if it wasn’t.
There are no doubt countless other great reasons too and probably one or two of the above may throw up ‘issues’ as we all get used to the system too. Yet, the buzz is that Google may just be getting this social networking thing right and if you want to out-pace your rivals you should get on Google+ now.