Google+: Where Search and Social are the Perfect Couple.,
Google+, Google’s new social platform, experienced major growth in the few weeks since its launch as an invite-only beta. Among other things, it is a social application with features familiar to Facebook and Twitter users, plus the addition of features such as Circles (friend management), Sparks (user interest groups) and Hangouts (video chat).
Google+ is not a just a stand-alone social application like Facebook, but also a social layer added to Google’s entire product suite. Google potentially has a powerful strategic advantage over Facebook because of the integration of its other assets, such as Android, Apps, Search, Maps, Voice, +1, into Google+.
These assets are advantageous, especially to marketers, if you think of them as features on a brand page. Users can find business locations near them on a map, get directions sent to their Android phone or get a discount via a targeted Google Offer. If a user has an affinity with a brand, they could +1 (the equivalent to a Facebook “like”) the brand’s page, making their preference for the brand visible for the whole Web to see. In addition, all of their activity would be visible in Google search results, on ads and sites across the Web.
Google’s search engine is already widely spreading content and is a major driver of traffic to other websites. Now, Google+ has the potential to enhance those capabilities, plus spread the social engagement of the Google+ user community in the form of conversations with and about brands.
The ultimate success of modern social networks depends as much on its supportive services—advantage Google—as it will on its aggregate users. Obviously, Facebook has the advantage of a much broader user base and will undoubtedly respond to Google+’ innovations in functionality with those of its own. Facebook, for better or for worse, places considerable effort into establishing many of the conventions of social networking, an effort that Google+ successfully capitalized on.
Much like Facebook, creating a brand presence on Google+ should be fairly uncomplicated. The real work will lie in managing the brand across another social platform. Google+’ integration across Google’s product suite allows for wider exposure of brand content, from conversations with customers to features like mobile integration and e-commerce, making the development of a Google+ brand presence worth the time and effort. At the moment, Google asked brands not to create business profiles, which are set for release later this year, as the company begins testing features for business pages with selected companies. These partner companies are being announced sometime this week.
Overall, Google’s unique ability to integrate search and social will make Google+ the place to be for meaningful, sustainable interaction between brands and their customers.