So, just how exactly can Google + help businesses? To answer this question, we may need to monitor the successes and challenges of the Ford Motor Company. The 100+ year old car manufacturer loves social media, and can add to its bragging rights the fact that it’s one of the first brands to try out its very own business page on Google +.
Google’s social network is still pretty much a work in progress, and from a business perspective is no more than a novelty. Unlike Facebook, which caters to companies by offering them Facebook business Pages, Google + remains a tool for developing personal social networks. This may change any time soon, however, as Google has begun working with some major brands by creating test accounts for them; the Ford business profile is one such.
Considering the current set of features offered by Google +, it’s easy to imagine how businesses would use the network for their purposes. A company could build its business page and create Circles of “friends” and clients, with each Circle corresponding to a specific demographic or market category.
The company could then initiate and sustain conversation with these Circles, feeding information, sharing resources, asking questions and responding to queries. One of the more powerful features that could evolve into a very useful business tool is the Hangouts application. Hangouts leverages the power of video chatting to let individual Google + members spend time with each other in real time video conversation. Businesses can easily adopt this feature to have colleagues meet up online, start conversations with target audiences, train end users and much more.
It works like a stamp of approval that you give to interesting content on the Web. This process is a natural fit for businesses, which can create compelling content. These businesses can then ask the members of their Circles to help promote this content (presumably marketing messages) to their own Circles by clicking on the +1 button.
And because this is a Google product, the +1 extends to Google Search results, letting you share content with the rest of the Web. Search, not surprisingly, happens to be one of Google +’s significant advantages; listings are 100 percent indexed as long as they are made available to the public. There are hints of more features to come that will allow businesses to take advantage of the obvious integration between Google + and Google Search, further adding to the excitement and anticipation.
But while businesses wait in anticipation of the results Ford and other pioneering companies obtain from their tests with Google +, experts have aired a couple of caveats. First, companies have yet to figure out how to truly maximize their efforts and initiatives on the other social networking sites. While there is no doubt that working with social media is interesting at the very least, and can even be loads of fun, business is about making sales and turning profits — realizing ROI.
Second, social media users still somewhat feel that commercial activity has no place in social networks. Interestingly, this parallels the feeling that academics and “purists” once had over the place of business on the Internet. But if the current state of e-commerce and online marketing are any indication, then perhaps great things are in store for businesses using social media networks. And perhaps Google + may just be the catalyst that makes this happen.
Article Written By: Edwin Huertas
Posted By: Jeff Pulvino Social Media Manager located in Sacramento, CA
Are you using Google + in your businesses marketing efforts? What has your experiences been? Comments are always welcome!