At this point everyone is likely familiar with Google +. Whether you have a Google + page or not, you’re aware of its differences and similarities with Facebook. Circles, hangouts, and +1s are becoming terms you no longer have to explain to people. Recently Google + made pages available to brands, with a few restrictions, of course. The most important of which says that brands can’t add people to their circles until someone adds them first. So what does this mean for your brand?
It means that people are figuring out what niche they want the newest of the social media regime to fill. They are allocating specific roles to Facebook, Twitter and Google +. This sort of specialization is what allows the networks to thrive in conjunction rather than in direct competition of each other. For example, if Facebook is what you’re thinking, and Twitter is what you’re doing, then Google + might be how you’re feeling. Another way of segmenting your message may be that Twitter is more for check-ins from third party apps, while Facebook is more of a narrative, and Google + is for sharing your internet habits. Regardless of how you segment your networks, it’s important to note that the availability of multiple networks and audiences will ensure that people always have an alternative, which keeps all three of them on their toes.
What Google + has going for it is its ties back to all the previous, current, and future Google products that are available, specifically its search. While brands have been curious to see how a G+ page would affect search results for their company names and keywords, Google has kept its musings on the subject fairly close to the vest. What we are seeing is Google’s +1 service showing up in their search results. These internet rankings, similar to a Facebook Like allow users to advocate web pages from searches they do. From the get go, we assumed that pages with more +1s would rank higher in a Google search of a similar term, what we weren’t sure of is how much a brand’s Google + page would alter the search results of that page. As it turns out, a lot!
On a quick search for McDonald’s, which obviously has a Google + page, the results are clear that a brand’s Google + page carries weight. This notion goes hand-in-hand with what the search giant has been doing to integrate Google Places into their searches as well. What’s clear is that Google doesn’t mind tooting its own horn and rewarding those brands (and people) who integrate their Google services. Much like having your TV, radio, and outdoor campaigns work together to promote your brand, if social media is right for you, Google is clearly willing to help you coordinate your Google +, Google Places and now your restaurant recommendations with its recent purchase of Zagat. While Google is happy to offer its services for free, it seems just as willing to promote its own products via collaboration, and why wouldn’t it?
These tactics are all individual ingredients to the recipe of an effective brand image, each one carries its own weight and each one acts in complement with the rest; social media, traditional media, and search, as well as the facets of each one. In short, make use of all the marketing tactics that make sense to your brand; no more, no less.