Google+: Should It Be Part of Your Social CRM Strategy?
With existing social networks constantly changing and new ones sprouting up all the time, marketers need to understand which ones are worth the time and effort to incorporate into their social strategy. With Facebook dominating the social network arena, many have questioned whether or not Google+ will be of value to marketers. While total audience reach and engagement looks low relative to FB , their recent announcement regarding business participation and their dominance in the search marketplace warrant a closer look.
What Is It?
Google+ was launched June 28, 2011. It is a social networking platform built to integrate larger elements of website behavior (specifically on Google) with social media and integrates current Google profiles and photos held by the Picasa domain.
- Profiles: basic information such as name, gender location, interests and activities
- Circles: a new connection classification tool allowing the user to manage sharing options by interest, relationship type, networking needs, etc.
- Hangouts: group video chat capabilities
- Streams: a “stream” similar to the Facebook newsfeed allows contacts to post and share content with specific Circles
- Sparks: a recommendation engine and interest bank
- Messenger (formerly Huddles): group texting
- Hangout: group video chat with ability to create topics and themes to discuss
- Games: User-centric games designed to be less intrusive and “cleaner” than Facebook
- Contact Synching: Gmail contact import easily done and added to Circles; can also import any other virtual address book
Why You Should Care
- Heavy content sharing: More than 1 billion pieces of content are being shared daily on Google+
- More penetration for +1 icon than Twitter icon: From the 10,000 largest sites on the web, the +1 icon is on 4.4%, while only 3.4% have the Twitter share icon
- A Gen Y/Gen X demographic: 38% of + users are 25-34
Our Point of View
It’s too early to tell if Google+ can create a strong enough value proposition to motivate consumers to either manage two social networking communities or drive them to replace Facebook with Google+. They will need to grow the user base and engagement to make it a stronger alternative to Facebook.
- Consumers aren’t yet sure how to feel about the networking site, as it currently duplicates their social experience on Facebook. After a surge of traffic following a public launch, traffic is down 60%.
- Marketers don’t have a grip on the full breadth of capabilities available to them, as G+ just launched brand pages. The implications to marketers are still widely unknown.
Hangouts could be a social market research game changer with the new Hangout API
With the real-time functionality afforded by the Hangout API, marketers can run an application – in this instance, say a poll or a qualitative market research study – directly inside a Google+ Hangout. Marketers seeking a cheaper, real-time alternative can leverage this functionality.
Marketers will possibly create more complex and intelligent targeting
- Leveraging Sparks to target content….Marketers could have the ability to cross-reference Sparks (interests dictated by the consumer) with other search engine behavior on Google.
- A saved Spark also offers the ability to optimize content based marketing or viral videos.
Strength of connection is key. G+ users’ strength and type of connection will be much more apparent than in other platforms
How consumers are sharing with one circle vs another, what they’re sharing, and how they’re engaging with each other will create a better understanding of fan connection and how to target segmented groups and Circles.
Brand Page opportunities should not be ignored.
Google+ just announced brand pages, and they are rumored to integrate better search ability (matched back to social for search content), more ability to customize than Facebook, and better analytics through Google analytics. Ideally this means the company will incorporate this data into search and serve up more relevant user content during the search process – driving more organic traffic for brands.