Over the past few weeks, I’ve been watching patiently as press releases and articles accumulate in my mailbox regarding the recent trial launch of Google’s new social network, Google+. There’s been speculation upon speculation about whether the site will trump Facebook’s monopoly within the online world – or simply make a splash for a brief moment in time. My observation in getting to know the new online space, is that Google+ is ultimately a positive adjustment for Facebook and social media all in all. The new platform will challenge Facebook and other networks to continue to grow and evolve.
Among the many similarities that both Facebook and Google+ share, there are a number of improvements I like about the new platform – things that ultimately make online social interaction easier for the consumer and let’s not forget, marketers as well.
One of the most notable functions about Google+ I enjoy from a personal and business perspective is the ability to choose which content I want to share with certain people. Google+ “Circles” allows the user to categorize their connections into groups such as family, friends and even create your own circles such as industry people, clients, etc. On the marketing front, I find this element very intriguing because companies can filter which information to share with various target demographics.
It’s a well known fact, people make purchasing decisions with information from those they trust. Google accomplishes many things with the +1 recommendation function. Not only is this an excellent option for the consumer, but as a marketer +1s provide an opportunity for brand loyalists to promote a product, service and/or event organically, building credibility for the brand on a more personal note. In turn, marketers can implement strategy to build brand awareness to spark conversation and ultimately drive sales by targeting specific individuals through search.
Another tactic we may see pop up in this interim period, is individual employees speaking on a brand’s behalf. Building a personal connection with consumers in order to build awareness regardless of the restrictions for businesses.
Now, there’s a reason Google does not want to see major brands on the network just quite yet – it’s crucial in this beginning phase to build trust among consumers before introducing marketing capabilities for companies. I do believe, however, that Google+ will eventually roll out enticing advertising and analytic opportunities for marketers. In fact, one of the first questions prompted when signing up for my account, was will I approve Google to use my information for advertising purposes? More privacy than Facebook? Not so sure how long that will last.
One of the other enticing perks to Google+ is the ability to access one’s email, social networks, search and even video chat without having to log out and switch over to another platform. Google+ combines most of the major tasks people want to accomplish online, and even if it’s a matter of small convenience, this is something that most people want – to consume and share information quickly. I do foresee, however, Google+ struggling with critics on the other hand, who do not want their social networks tied to email and search. My prediction is this information will inevitably be accessible for marketers – which will lead to more targeted ads, but relevant information.
Until then, what are your thoughts about this social network evolution? Will Google maintain untainted and non-commercial? Or allow brands to tap into its social/search gold? Seems likely that the latter will prevail.