Google+ – hype or a game changer?

As a Marketing professional, I often assist clients in developing their social media strategy, teaching them the hows and whys of this powerful marketing tool and helping them determine how to measure ROI of their time and effort.

I must throw my hat in the ring now and say I love social media. I’ve used social media of many forms for more years than  I care to remember. It all started for me in a past life when I was working as a research scientist and had access to the internet through university, long before having a home dial-up connection (I miss the tuneful clicking, hissing and ‘bing bongs’!). The Channel 4 programme ‘Time Team‘ ran a series of ‘live’ programmes through the 1997 August Bank Holiday weekend, and ended up digging what turned out to be a high status Roman Villa, at Turkdean, Gloucs. Alongside the TV programmes, Channel 4 provided a fantastic website resource adding additional information, dig updates and a forum for interactive comment – sadly now scattered to the electron clouds… Needless to say, whilst I couldn’t access the website at home, at the first available opportunity on returning to work, I hunted this site down and got involved. Little did I know that through this simple action, I would get to know some people who are still dear friends, and get the opportunity to attend the ‘Live’ dig the following year – Maybe I’ll tell those tales in another blog post! But from here my involvement and interest in social media developed and I was hooked…

Fast forward to now – through many other forum communities, email newsgroups, and early social networking sites, to the landscape of today – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter being the primary players. However, an announcement was made yesterday which I suspect is going to revolutionise the social media world for business.

Google+ was launched in June 2011 as an invitation only social media platform – the need for an invitation to join was removed in September. Uptake has been variable – an initially rapid response was followed by a ‘lull’ – the early adopters had adopted, everyone else saw no reason to move from where their friends were already established.

In November Google+ pages for business were launched, and my perception is that most businesses have been slow to take this up – preferring to stick to their more familiar Facebook fan pages and Twitter presence, where there is a proven benefit to their efforts and plenty of subscribers  to tempt to interact. However, yesterday Google made an announcement which will change this landscape and make Google+ a ‘must be’ place for business.

The important part of this announcement for business is this:

We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships. We began this transformation with Social Search, and today we’re taking another big step in this direction by introducing three new features:

  1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;
  2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and,
  3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community.” (emphasis mine)

What, in practice, does this mean? In simple terms, if you don’t have a Google+ business page, you’re going to be disadvantaged as Google will be using Google+ content to help determine what is served as the result of a search on the Google search engine. The wider implications to the objectivity of Google are debated in several other blogs – a particularly interesting and clear one by PC World. However, the reality is that business cannot now ignore Google+, and I expect this change to lead to a surge of business page creations and associated users.

If you’d like to know more, follow the links to the blogs, or if you’d like help in getting to grips with Google+, cohesively integrating a social media strategy into your marketing mix, or any other aspect of marketing your business, please feel free to contact me, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

lesley@themarketingangel.com

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About The Marketing Angel

Inspired by those with the passion to succeed, I work with business owners to create tailored strategies for cost effective lead generation.
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