I’ve been dabbling in the world of Google+ for a few weeks. In that same time, Google+ has grown considerably faster than its predecessors, surpassing 20M as of July 22, 2011. For many, particularly marketers, it is daunting to think about a whole new social network on the web. We’ve only scratched the surface of what Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, forums, bookmarking, pictures, YouTube and the whole slew of others have to offer. There’s been a lot of activity swirling the social web around this network, and even more opinions in the real world about what it all means. So, like everyone else, I’m going to share mine.
The Big Picture
If Google+ is anything, it’s a move to enable a new shift in consumer interactions with the web. By having a social network, email, search, Android, Wallet, photos, and all those other things still in “beta,” Google is positioned to provide you with the most personal and engaging experience with the greater web by integrating your digital footprint and centralizing your social and web presence. As we watch Facebook, Bing, Skype, and Windows Phone 7 making similar moves to unify and enrich your digital experience, there may be another large digital war on the horizon. And if anyone should be worried, it’s Twitter.
The Google+ Advantages
With easily accessible, straight-forward publishing controls, you have simple ways to manage what messages you send and to whom. That’s huge for brands. You can easily message to and target your audiences with the control you traditionally have found with email and well-built websites. Tailoring your engagement with consumers is no longer a nice to have, but a requirement in today’s digital world. They have the exact mirror control to listen, ignore or simply turn off anything or anyone. But to be fair, the richness of the to-be-released API will really determine how well you can leverage this type of control, at scale, to the market.
The Truth to your Social Strategy
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of a new social network, particularly one released by one of the predominant forces online. However, we also have to remember what we are trying to do. We are trying to richly and interactively engage with consumers in ways that build loyalty, drive advocacy, and ultimately, affect buying decisions. And for any marketing activity to work well, it needs to reach a large number of people. It’s important to keep a pulse on that community, even establish an early presence to ensure you’re ready should the network grow, and set up a few Sparks to easily monitor your brand. But there are established, engaged communities where you are already investing time and energy to build relationships. Don’t turn your back on them to chase shiny objects.
Enrico S. Montana, Ph.D.
Director, Product Management | Visible
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