Google +, just another social media site for SMBs to monitor online reviews?
“It’s a bird”! “No, it’s a plane”! “No, it’s another Social Media site”! “What are we going to do with this”?! This may be what local businesses are saying about Google + when they heard about the new social media site. Google + is a modernized Facebook. It takes staying connected to an all new technological level. Between the group video chats, huddles, and the automatic picture uploads, Google+ could take social media to the next generation.
Of course, this isn’t Google’s first try into social, but this seems like they’re strongest effort and with many people reporting a little Facebook exhaustion as well as spam and advertising taking over, the timing may be right for the next social service. G+ (Google+) has some interesting new features and improved on some existing features that other social sites support. For example, G+ has circles, where you can categorize people into groups. I can put my grandma, dad and aunt all in the same “family circle,” and this means that they are not able to see the pictures that people in my “friend circle” post.
The next feature that G+ offers is “Hangouts,” which is combining social media with Skype. You can now have a video chat with one or more friends or even whole “circles”, all in the same place. One of my favorite and smartest features G+ offers is “sparks”. Sparks are what you “Like” on Facebook but with a Google twist. According to Mashable, when you add a “spark” to your profile, G+ will then stream personalized content to your profile based on +1’s, Google+ sharing activity, and the algorithm that fuels Google searches, all based on the chosen interest or spark.
The last element that G+ has to offer is “Huddles,” which allows mobile users to have group conversations with their circles via text. This is a huge deal with texting becoming so popular and being a big source of revenue for wireless carriers. The “huddles” feature now threatens that revenue stream for wireless carriers. Google+ seems like it could be the next big step in SMBs social media marketing, because it could be the next trend and google seems to have had the foresight to build in business friendly features. In a study just released by Roost, it was said that 84.1% of SMBs found that their Facebook page was a more effective way to advertise than paid advertising. This could hold true for G+ as well because of features like circles and places (if they really do integrated the two tools).
Google + will allow businesses, one interesting and unique feature, with circles, it will allow the organization to categorize its customers and will permit them to communicate to each group. So, you can have your “regulars” in one circle, occasional customers in another, first-time customers in another, and prospects in another. This allows you to create different marketing messages and promotions to each group, which is a huge benefit for marketers. However, it’s been rumored that Google + will automatically create a page for each of the 15 millions US businesses. This seems like the same disaster that Facebook places has caused with confusion and multiple pages for each business. SMBs can barely manage 1 page, much less have to deal with 2 pages.
Christian Oestlien, project manager for Google +, recently posted on You Tube that the + pages for businesses were going to integrate a lot of features that Google already offers like analytics and adwords. It sounds like Google+ could be the new platform for businesses to use all of their G-tools (Google Tools). If Google gets their tools organized and makes them easier for SMBs to use, then it could become a power house in local search marketing. With the integration of Google+, Google places and other tools, Google is going to be valuing, measuring, and encouraging the sharing of information and why not, Google is already monitoring all your search activity, so of course they’d like to know all the information that you are sharing with everyone you know!
That’s even more impactful when it comes to targeting. Of course, Google is already using customer feedback as component to establish trust for SMBs listings and sites with reviews. Thus, it’s pretty likely that they could now use customer input (sharing and sparking) to further establish trust and impact rankings as well. That would certainly get more businesses to jump on the Google+ train. So, is Google going to be successful getting SMBs to use Google+, or will it just be another Google product that falls flat in the SMB space? What do you think?