Two weeks ago, Google introduced a new social network and over 20 million people have signed-up. There are many useful features that will work for your personal brand now and, coming soon, for your small business. But it is important to catch the new wave now.
Google’s analysis of the social networking space surfaced a key insight: “People don’t naturally share with everyone in their social sphere. They share specific things with specific people and groups.”, according to Paul Adams, the former Senior User Experience Researcher at Google. This insight led to the creation of Google+ circles, a major differentiator between Google+ and Facebook. Circles enable you to “narrowcast” messages. That is, different messages for different groups which has strong marketing implications when business pages are available from Google+. Suddenly, Google+ can enable micro-targeting via circles.
Trust is Social Media’s Sweet Spot
Consumers trust recommendations from their social network. What is a trusted brand? It is a brand you want to engage. A “brand is a reason to choose” says Fred Burt, Seigel+Gale. Trusted brands get recommended. It’s that simple. Recommendations are fueled by Facebook, Twitter, blogs and now, Google+. The concept of trust plays well into Google+ circles, as this feature allows you to share relevant content with the right people, and follow content posted by people you find interesting. According to Paul Adams, “Facebook and Twitter have proven that people love to broadcast things they share to all of their friends. But equally so, there are instances in which people only want to share certain things with certain circles. That is where Google+ excels.”
What Google+ circles mean to your small business
Since Google circles are based on the premise that you don’t want to share everything with everyone, this makes good marketing sense for businesses.
Here are a few things you may be able to do once Google+ business pages are available. Let’s use an example of a local paint store owner, Randy. To date, Randy has been active with various social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to build communities of family, friends and customers.
As a small business owner, one of Randy’s increasing challenges is finding more cost-effective ways to market his store. Using the Google+ circles feature, Randy can create and populate circles based on his own definitions. For example: loyal customers, medium to low value customers, contractors, friends, etc., — many are already part of Randy’s social media community. Circles may allow Randy to customize offers, deals, events, and information. Randy also writes a popular blog which includes amazing painting and wallpapering tips. Randy has become a trusted resource to his online community for any and all questions about painting.
Another reason Google is a powerful contender in the battle with Facebook is positive brand perception. As people decide on which companies to buy from, invest in, and work for, the Google brand ranked #4 among Top-Ranked Companies for Social Responsibility, above Coca-Cola. (source: Ronald Alsop, “How a Boss’s Deeds Buff a Firm’s Reputation, WSJ, 2007).
Krishna De, award-winning digital marketer and social media speaker, told Blue Focus Marketing, “As Google+ is not open for businesses… it’s still a small community as small businesses have limited resources. Here are two immediate actions I would recommend they take:
1. As a priority I would ensure that the Google+ button is added to your articles and sales pages so that people can share your great content with their network.
2. Listen for mentions of your brand, product and services in Google+ to manage your reputation online. For example using http://gplussearch.com
Good News – A business version is in the works
If you do not have a personal Google+ account, you can request an invitation by joining the waiting list. Google is also testing out special business accounts in a business beta. Chris Brogan, social marketing guru, wrote in a Forbes post, July 18th:
“Business pages are being developed now…
Imagine the power of Google Places, Google Local and several other Google products …now acting inside one unified communications environment. Yeah.”
Armed with your own Google+ account, learn as much as you can about using the tool, and spend time building your communities to prepare for creating business profiles and circles for your small business. The more you know about G+ the more your small business will benefit.
Take the Google+ project: A quick look: