After months of rumors, speculations, analysis and fear, Google finally unveiled its social media platform Google +, now what has that meant for business?
They’ve decided to roll it out slowly, by invitation only, and the response was overwhelming. So much so that they had to issue an apology for taking so long to register new users. It seems that one request or recommendation to connect is not enough. To get invited to this new party you need invitations from different sources.
As the platform came out and was evaluated by business people, it became obvious that Google+ system has a few advantages for business: Dell CEO, for example, started talking about it becoming an alternative to the traditional customer service call. He posted the following question on his Google + page: “I am thinking about hangouts for business. Would you like to be able to connect with your Dell service and sale teams via video directly from Dell.com?
Other businesses saw the potential as well. Mashable.com, Ford, Sesame Street, Search Engine Land an others managed to get invited and immediately opened a brand page. Mashable.com, the technology site, had 103,000 followers by the time Google+ put a stop to businesses on their platform and removed all those pages.
At the end of June, after a few rocky weeks for brands on Google+, Google announced that business pages would be coming soon and asked brands to stop making new accounts. They eventually invited some businesses to apply to be part of a test program.
A few hours later, Mashable and Ford accounts were restored, but not completely. After talking extensively with Google, Mashable founder Pete Cashmore agreed that he will personally take over the account, which had 100,000 followers already, and wind down his personal account which had only 40,000 followers.
Immediately Christian Oestlien from Google posted the following announcement:
“With so many qualified candidates expressing intense interest in business profiles, we’ve been thinking hard about how to handle this process. Your enthusiasm obligates us to do more to get businesses involved in Google+ in the right way, and we have to do it faster. As a result, we have refocused a few priorities and we expect to have an initial version of businesses profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months. There may be a tiny handful business profiles that will remain in the meantime solely for the purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers.
In the meantime, we ask you not to create a business profile using regular profiles on Google+. The platform at the moment is not built for the business use case, and we want to help you build long-term relationships with your customers. Doing it right is worth the wait. We will continue to disable business profiles using regular profiles. We recommend you find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself.”
What is it about Google+ that prompted businesses to jump on the bandwagon so quickly?
It is the wave of the future, experts say, and it might signify a drastic shift in social activity on the internet. Connecting to people will no longer be faceless. It addresses one of the fundamental problems of why social interactions through the internet are so risky. The one writing messages as a 17 year old girl, could turn out to be a 40 year old man looking for easy pray. No more. Now you will be able to connect and see the face behind the post.
It lifts the veil of anonymity. People can see and hear the people they interact with, can hear their tone of voice and see their demeanor. Business will become personal again?
Businesses can use circles to target their ‘tier one’ costumers with specials deals. They can provide personal attention by seeing the customer who can see them as well. When a number of customers have the same question, one conversation with a whole group will save time on customer service.
It might also encourage personal interactions between people who see each other, who can lend a helping hand.
Companies will need to consider the intimacy of a given relationship. The first wave of social media forced businesses to become a little more transparent and compelling online, this wave of relationship relevancy will push them to take their customers more personally.
The biggest advantages Google + has against Facebook?
Google is a big company. It can offer an immediate search. It has connections to Google’s other platforms off the bat.
As of July 4 Google’s contract with Twitter expired and they did not renew it. Expert speculate that Google+ will incorporate some form of tweet possibility. If they do that, businesses will have one more reason to join them rather than the competition. It will make their life simpler.
Google has apps for business productivity as well as an apps market for third party apps.
Google can provide companies a web presence integrated with social networking. There will be very little reason for people to leave the Google platform at all.
Google has already the Checkout system and its Products search is connected to all sorts of online merchants. Google can tie those and enable e commerce through the company’s page – when those pages will become available – enabling payment service and database of products without sending shoppers off to another site. Facebook does it with the help of a third part tools which cost anywhere from about $20 to a few thousands a month.
Google’s model of advertising and analytics is well established and most often used. AdSense and AdWords have been around since 2000. Google Analytics has a head start on traffic and advertisement performance tools, and is one most often used to check results on campaigns.
Google can, and probably will, tie-in the business pages of Google+ to Google maps and Google Places.
Google’s mobile integration includes mobile payment option, which allows users to transmit data by tapping two phone together or to a scanner.
Facebook rushed to supply an answer to Google+ strength and announced immediately a connection with Skype to do the same. Their new video calling works by clicking on the Video Call button, being rolled out to users. It requires a plug-in to be able to use it. They are working on other means to come closer to the new things Google+ has to offer. Indeed this week Facebook unveiled a new step by step guide aimed at helping small businesses use their site. Facebook’s new business page does not come with any new features, it just puts a lot of information in one place, and serves as a reminder that Facebook encourages companies to use their services, while they can’t use Google+ yet.
Some statistics at a glance:
- Number of users of Google+ – 20 million
- Time it took to get those numbers – 3 weeks
- Number of users from the US – 5 million
- CBS News
- CMS Wire: Facebook’s Answer to Google more Chat
- Duct Tape Marketing: Google Offers Great Business Potential
- Gigaom: Dell Google Hangout
- Gigaom: Facebook for Business
- Google Plus:Christian Oestlien
- Huffington Post: Numbered the Weeks Top Tech Stats
- PC World: Google Changes the Social Media Game for Business
- PC World: Why Google Business Profiles will Trump Facebook Pages
- Search Engine Land: Google Removes Mashable Sesame Street and other Prominent Accounts from Google Plus