You've probably seen a hundred articles and posts in recent weeks reviewing Google+. The network is still just weeks old and a lot is going to be changing quickly. But online influence moves fast, and marketers need to be thinking about where it's going. Since Google is the dominant search engine, and social has revolutionized marketing, it is important to think about what the new Google+ frontier could mean for marketers.
Profile pages for brands are still a ways away, but it won't be long until marketers start asking how to extend their Facebook strategies and integrate their Twitter workflow into the plus, (I just made that up; nobody is calling it the plus). Digital marketers are already scratching their heads thinking about what creative can be used, and where the logo is going to go.
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But that's not what this is all about. What makes Google+ unique is that it helps people organize their content better so it's more personal and relevant. That means that the real opportunity here is for marketers to view social as a platform to help their customers and advocates share meaningful product experiences.
Here are 4 ways Google+ adds itself into the big picture for brand advocates and social marketers:
Google Circles promotes relevance and increased participation
At the heart of Google+ is Circles. This feature allows for users to organize their associations into very specific categories (e.g. family, co-workers, book clubs, the elderly, etc.) so they can share the most relevant information with the right people. The key to any marketing communication is relevance, so now your customers can share what they like about your baby wipes product with other moms without exposing their thoughts to clients or co-workers. People are likely to share more, more often, when they know they are doing it with like-minded people in a protected environment.
Sparks emphasizes social content
Sparks is the personal search engine within each Google+ page. Searches can be saved for the topics you care about most, but the content appearing will be different than what is in the standard search engine. You'll see what's most engaging -- fresh, visually stimulating content (i.e. videos), that is shared by others. Smells a lot like user- generated content to me. If your customers are generating momentum by stimulating conversation and sharing video and photos of your products, they'll be creating exactly what Google wants to emphasize here.
Hangouts empower group collaboration
Collaboration seems to be an integral part of the Google+ DNA. While most of the primary functionality is about sharing and organizing data, the Hangouts group video chat could lead to a new trend in social media behavior. Got a problem? Need help deciding what brand to buy? Ping a couple friends and talk about it on a group video chat. Marketers might even hold Hangouts with select groups of customers to share product ideas and upcoming innovations. Industry bloggers and advocates of your brand might also be interested in demonstrating the features of a new product during a Hangout with friends and followers.
Mobile app extends influence to the real world
The Google+ app extends your Circles and Sparks to mobile devices so your entire network is at your fingertips wherever you go. Customers don't have to wait until they get back to the computer to share their photos and sentiments as they experience a product. Location-based tools are integrated into the app so people can find others nearby, send instant group messages with Huddle, and learn where to buy your products wherever they are located.
It appears that Google has something unique and interesting here. We'll see how this evolves and if it can pry people away from Facebook and Twitter. But at the very least, there is a lot for the advocate-focused marketer to love.
Brian Cavoli is director of marketing for BzzAgent.
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