Is your brand on Google+? No? Well, you may want to re-consider it.
Google+ may not be growing as quickly as Pinterest or Tumblr, but there has been over 200% growth in the 35-44 age group on the social community over this past year. So it seems the platform has found a niche in the wide ocean of web users to give it a seat at the social media table: technology-savvy, middle-aged males who are willing to interact and comment on posts, presenting great opportunities for meaningful engagement between brands and their audiences.
Of course, connecting with the 35-44 age group is not the only benefit to having a Google+ presence. Here are a few pro’s – and yes, a few con’s as well – of having a presence on Google+.
1. Simple format. True to Google form, Google+ is a streamlined platform with clear navigation and easily readable content. The clean home page and profile pages are visually pleasing compared to a somewhat cluttered Facebook news feed. Also, settings are easy to understand, especially when it comes to privacy. Even when users post long-form content, posts are nicely squared off and fit smoothly onto the home page.
2. Hashtags. Users can search for hashtags on Google+ the same way they can on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also when you post on Google+ and forget to hashtag a keyword the system recognizes, it will add a hashtag to the post’s indexed content. For example, if I wrote a post about the London Eye and don’t use a hashtag, Google+ will add the keyword to the post and the post will appear when I search #LondonEye. Mind. Blown.
3. SEO integration. All content on Google+ is indexed like webpages, thus posts show as individual results on Google searches. This is one of the biggest convincing arguments for brands looking to increase their searchability on the web. Additionally:
- By associating an official brand image with your Google+ page, that image shows every time someone searches for your brand in Google search increasing visual associations to your logo.
- When Google+ members with high authority share your page’s content, your authority goes up.
- Page rank increases when you write content for your Google+ page as well as when your webpage and Google+ page are connected.
4. Circles. Segmenting content to your audience on Facebook can be tricky. On Google+, you fill in the exact people you want to share content with by designating which ‘circles’ to whom each post should be shown. You can make as many circles as you desire to segment your audience and can edit them at any point. Google+ makes it easy to get the right message to the right people – and isn’t that what marketing is all about?
5. Communities. Finding that right audience can often be like finding a needle in a haystack. Google Communities pares down that haystack into smaller groups based on interests to help brands target their desired audiences. Very handy for marketers when performing blogger outreach research.
6. Hangouts. By far one of the coolest features of Google+. Hangouts are video conferences that can be turned into collaborative workstations where participants can edit Google Drive documents and can be broadcast live and/or recorded and posted to YouTube. (Note: Gmail chats are also considered Google Hangouts and can be viewed during video conferencing, without video conferencing, or in Gmail.) Recently, Diane Von Furstenberg and Rebecca Minkoff brands did Google+ Hangouts, during which they discussed their new clothing lines while viewers could buy the items on the screen. See the video below:
Hangouts give brands the chance to interact with their customers face-to-face in realtime rather than through drawn-out messaging on other social platforms. And as we’ve seen lately, customers want to know there’s a person and a story behind their favorite brands and what better way than to bring in real-time video.
There are, of course, a few negatives you may want to consider as well when looking at Google+ for you brand.
1. Data collection. Because Google’s applications are integrated, all the data coming from Google regarding Google+ users and activity are very skewed. For example, all ‘visits’ to Google+ include visits to Google Drive, Search, Play, etc. for an individual user. It’s a major pain in the backside for managers and researchers. In a way, Google is making it harder for themselves by refusing to publish the Google+ data separately. It would make the appeal of Google+ that much greater if we all had some true AND convincing facts.
2. Administrator limitations. Brand pages are made by individuals and administrative rights cannot be shared to other users like on Facebook pages. So if the one administrator is sick one day and can’t post content, your brand is SOL.
3. Limited Reach. Google+ is still relatively new to social media, and people are still skeptical of its awesomeness. Rightfully so, many users don’t want Big Brother watching all their web activity and interpreting this data for other uses. So, there are some real hurdles for Google+ to get over when it comes to signing up more regular users. Google+ needs to market itself with a clearer message to individuals and brands: this is where genuine interaction with the right people takes place. Less clutter. And one case study showing how Cadbury UK succeeded on the platform just is not an adequate sales pitch. Seriously.
We do feel strongly that there is real opportunity for many brands on Google+, and that in most cases the pro’s will outweigh the cons. Of course, resource allocation will always be a factor in making these decisions to join new social communities. For those brands that target a 35-44 male consumer and are working toward the best search engine optimization possible, there’s an extra incentive in it for you to cast a serious eye to Google+ now. For other brands, marketers and users out there who have been doubtful of Google+, we think it’s at least time to give the platform a new look. You may just be surprised at what your missing.