With the combination of 40 million users in a little more than 88 days, and a 68 percent share of the search market, Google is positioned to fully maximize social engagement with Google+. The initial launch strategy was primarily consumer focused and any branded solutions were put on hold. With the recent release of Google+ pages, now is the time to define your brand's strategy when it comes to fully maximizing the benefits of Google+ both short and long term.
There has been a lot of discussion about how Google+ compares to Facebook and the ideal ways to leverage the platforms. It is important to note that even though there are many similarities, the fact remains that both platforms have some major differences and strategy around maximizing resource allocation will be key moving forward.
On the surface the two networks are eerily similar. Both have status updates (news feeds and streams), photo sharing, social games, and external activators ("like" button and +1). Further, they both enable third-party development, integration with mobile, and a desire to connect and share. But the fundamental difference is that Facebook is a true social network -- and has been from day one -- and that is the true strength of the platform. Google+ appears to be a social network but is actually a representation of the evolution of user behavior tied to relevant content, search, discoverability, and connection.
Thus, when it comes to maximizing your Facebook strategy, be it acquisition, engagement, or advocacy, it is fairly self-contained within Facebook's walled garden, with the ability to aggregate content to third-party locations and a limited contextual impact on topical search results. That being said, one of the key points of differentiation is how Google+ content is directly relevant to search results, and how that will potentially drive business value around the +1 as it is pervasive beyond Google+.
This statement was just reaffirmed by an email I received from Google this morning: "Your +1's reach not only the 40 million users of Google+, but all users who come to Google every day."
Here are 10 potential strategic advantages and benefits for brands to incorporate Google+ into their 2012 social and search strategies.
Potential brand benefits of Google+ brand pages
Integration with Google searchGoogle currently owns 68 percent of search market share. The fact that the Google +1 icon is now a part of every Google search result shows a glimpse of the level of integration Google has in store for users and brands alike. A user can directly recommend a link from search results, and that recommendation is simultaneously shared on the user's Google+ +1 profile section. By combining paid search and incenting +1 behaviors, you can begin to see the potential of this level of integration. The user may not be actively engaged on Google+, but the ability to drive a user to engage by recommending content with the click of a single button is appealing.
Not a People Connection member?
We've been awaiting Google+ brand pages for awhile, but now that they are here it's easy to get frustrated that there is one more social network to pay attention to. Some businesses are choosing to not even set up a Google+ page because they don't have the time to dedicate to it. I'd recommend that every business should set up a Google+ page. Since social and search are becoming so intertwined and Google is obviously the king of search, you don't want to miss out on that opportunity.
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