Google+: Is the Next Social Media “Game Changer” a Game Worth Playing?

What is Google+?

Google+ is Google’s foray into social networking, but it’s more than that. It’s Google’s attempt to figure out sharing and why people go to different sites. And, oh yeah, it’s also indexed by the No. 1 search engine in the world. Google+ is already integrated with YouTube, Blogger, Gmail, Picasa Web, Reader, and Google Music, so it’s worth paying attention to.

Who’s On It?

Google+ already has more than 62 million people signed up and an estimated 625,000 people are added each day. If Google+ continues to grow at this rate, the social media platform will have 100 million users by the end of February. While not nearly that many people are active users yet, there’s a collective feeling that users are “waiting for the party to start.” If you want to see who’s on the social network, search for individuals on FindPeopleOnPlus.com. Some brands already using Google+ include Diet Coke, Volkswagen and Intel.

Where Do Brands Fit In?

Because public posts go quickly to Google search results and more people are joining everyday, it’s worth considering setting up a Google+ page for your business. If you do, don’t forget to add a Google+ button to your website too because not only will the content posted your page end up in Google’s search results, Google also adds up all the “+1” clicks your brand receives on Google+, on your company website and in search results to determine your brand’s relevancy.

Therefore, Google+ could be beneficial to increasing a brand’s visibility and providing an audience that is likely to share the content. For example, it could be a good place to direct people to watch video content (since it’s shareable) or you can use your account to search for people asking questions related to your business. You can even conduct a Hangout (video chat) with up to 10 people for meetings.

How Will People Find Your Brand’s Page?

Google has released Google Plus Direct Connect that allows Google users who add a “+” after the name of a company to be sent directly to the business’ page for Google+. Your company will be added to the directory once you create the Google+ button for your brand page and company website. Be aware, however, that, just like Facebook brand pages, Google+ won’t allow you to add people – your fans must find you first. A brand cannot add a person to its page’s circles unless the person has added the brand to his or her circles first.

Of course you’ll want to make sure Google+ (and social media in general) is an appropriate tactic to support your marketing, communications and branding strategies, and you’ll want to ensure you have the resources to properly build and manage the page. For example, did you know Google+ doesn’t currently allow contests and promotions on Google+ pages? The platform is brand new so it’s important to stay current on the latest information. See what others are doing, stay up-to date on social media changes and trends by reading the NST Blog and sites like Mashable, and then begin brainstorming ways you could use Google+ to build your business.

How Do You Use It?

Once you determine you have the resources to manage a page, it’s time to determine who will be a part of that team. As of Monday morning, Google announced you can now delegate up to 50 managers as administrators for your page, but you’ll want to make sure those able to access your page can communicate within your company’s guidelines. Also, a new notification flow will ensure that these managers stay in the loop on all the activity that takes place on a page, giving managers the ability to stay involved in page conversations. Google+ will also show an aggregated count of users that have engaged with your brand page, either by +1’ing it or by adding it to a Circle. This way, both you and your brand page’s visitors can get an at-a-glance summary of who is interacting with your page. For more details, check out the Google blog.

Google has launched a pilot program that has granted a few companies early access to third-party apps like HootSuite, Involved and Buddy Media to manage their Google+ brand pages, but until these apps are rolled out to all companies and personal users, you’ll have to regularly spend time within the program (which we’d recommend doing anyway).

If you have questions about Google+, would like help drafting your company’s social media guidelines, or want to determine if Google+ should be a part of your marketing plan, please let us know and we’d be happy to help.

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