For years Google has been competing to get the number of users that Facebook has: users that spend a large chunk of time on their site, looking at things they are interested in while also subconsciously registering the advertisements on the side bars. This is why they have experimented with a few different social networking sites, all of which have had little success. Now Google is in the stages of completing a promising new social network, Google+. It combines the personal and professional social characteristics of Facebook and LinkedIn, the personalized browsing aspect of Stumbleupon, the video conferencing of Skype and Go To Meeting, and the mobile sharing features of smart phones with the sophisticated search engine that is Google. This new division of Google is not only a great new way to share ideas, photos, and videos with one's friends, but is an interesting innovation on the marketing tool that is social networking.
The first thing that struck us here at Westrum & Brown as interesting was the way the site is divided up among Circles, Photos, Huddles, Hangouts, and Sparks: all new takes on old ideas which put all of a users favorite aspects of the web into one easily accessible site. For the average patrons of Google+, the circles allow one to divide up their contacts based one what information they want to share with whom. The Photos/videos section is synced up with the users Android phone (Google software since 2005), and any video or photo taken on the phone will automatically upload to the Google+ account. The Huddles feature is the chat application of Google+ and is another addition to the smart phone. The Google+ user downloads the G+ app to their smartphone and is able to send SMS messages from their phone to any of their contacts. It's great because it allows a group of friends to get into one conversation. This also differs from other SMS messaging services from social networking sites in that the SMS can be sent to anyone, not just G+ users. The Hangouts feature is another chat feature and is the most similar to the sites Skype and Gotomeeting.com. It is a video chat that allows he user to chat with not only one, but ten contacts at once. Sparks are a way to find new blogs, videos, games, whatever one is interested in. All the user has to do is add interests and a slew of new content will come up.
So what does this have to do with new marketing? Anyone advertising anything should have accounts with Facebook and Twitter, and a website that uses advanced search engine optimization. Facebook had 10 million subscribers after the first 852 days that it started. Twitter had the same amount after 780 days. Google+ had 10 million subscribers to the test stage after only 16 days. It now has 20 million subscribers still in the test stage, and is anticipating a flood of new subscribers after opening its doors to the public, which should be in October.
Having a Google+ account combines all of the goodness of the social networking with the sophisticated searching system of Google. Companies have the opportunity to market to a target audience using the information Google has about not only what is posted on a persons profile, but what they are searching for on Google and what sorts of things interest them via the information in the Sparks division of Google+. The best part about Google+ for businesses is something called the +1 feature. It is similar to the "like" button on Facebook, but allows consumers to +1 certain things they like about a brand without liking company holistically. Consumers also have the option to recommend the brand or product to all of their friends, or a certain circle that they know would be interested in said company. The more +1s a company has, the higher they rank in organic searches. It is also important for companies to get these recommendations, as "the most recommended company in any given category grows 2.5x the average of that category" - Bain & Co. Another great addition for companies is that Google+ is in the works to allow companies to use their own brands on their profiles instead of the Google+ brand, which no other social networking site has done yet.
As a whole, Google+ is another revolutionary step in social networking, and it has great benefits for companies marketing in such an environment. It is a great medium between the personal networking of Facebook and the professional networking of Linked In. It also allows companies to use the information posted by users of Google+ to market with such precision that they could find their company growing with just the use of a company profile. If there ever was a time to start marketing via social networks today is the day, and we here at Westrum & Brown are eager to help you with all of your social network management needs.