Less than 6 months since the launch of Google’s new social media network, Google Plus has introduced its much anticipated business pages facility, but what does this mean for the network and its users?
Google Plus Business Pages Accelerate Growth
Hitwise reported that the two biggest weeks for Google Plus in terms of traffic were in late September, following the public launch of the network after its testing phase. The third biggest surge in traffic coincided with the recent addition of the brand pages. In the same week, Google also introduced additional features including the +1 facility for Google Image searches, one of many changes we are likely to see rolled out. The upgrade to the functionality of the network is a vital tool to strengthen Google’s bid to succeed Facebook as the No.1 social media channel for businesses and individuals.
Google Plus Versus Facebook Business Pages
1. No Advertising - Like Facebook, organisations are not charged to use the network to engage with their audiences but one key distinction that will appeal to the masses is that Google Plus does not plan to include adverts within their business pages.
2. Combined Features – Google Plus business pages allow businesses to create circles for different groups to share specific information, like Facebook Groups but they also allow users to post public updates to all contacts which can be commented on and +1’d, like an individual’s Facebook page.
3. Less Restricted – Within Google Plus it is easier than Facebook to find people and organisations with shared interests but the service is not quite as open as Twitter’s model.
4. Everyone can see your posts – Within Facebook, your posts no longer appear within all your fans newsfeeds. It depends on how interesting your page’s content is, the level of interaction your fans make with your content and how recent and consistent your updates are. Within Google Plus, when someone puts you in a circle, they will always see your Google Plus posts in their stream.
How Can Business Use Google Plus to Their Advantage
As the facilities offered by Google Plus evolve over time, an endless list of possibilities is likely to emerge. A few initial ways in which businesses can reap the rewards for their loyalty to Google include the following:
1. Brand Loyalty – businesses can use their Sparks to their advantage by engaging in commentary on popular news items, identifying topics for discussion within their own blog posts and content marketing strategies and simply monitoring who is mentioning your site.
2. Customer Segmentation – The Circles facility presents an opportunity to segment your contacts into different groups, such as customers, potential customers and peers. Various customer groupings may be made according to their size, spend, stage of the relationship and such like so that communications can be tailored to be more relevant to each.
3. Search Optimisation - For many businesses, the impact of Google Plus on search is one which appears to be worth investigating as Google Plus branded pages are already visible within search results and the ease of which brands can be added to your circles directly from a search page encourages interaction.
4. Video Communications – The Hangouts facility can be used to launch new products, have real-time Q&A sessions and make senior members of your organisation more accessible to your following.
Google Plus may initially have been dismissed as another lacklustre attempt by Google to rival its main competitor Facebook, but its growing member count, which has reached over 40million in only a few months suggests that it is more than just another fad in Google’s social media exploits. This is supported by Hitwise who reported that traffic from returning visitors rose by 18%, based on a comparison of the average of the first two weeks of November against the same period in October.