There’s been some interesting developments and emerging themes in the world of Google+ over the last week…
Google+ is growing rapidly!
There’s still no word on exactly when Google+ business profiles will be available (all they’re saying is it’s “close”!), but it looks increasingly likely that Google+ will play an important role in social media marketing. It is being reported that Google+ has reached 50 million users in less than 10% of the time it took other major social media platforms to do so. That means that since being opened to the general public (over age 18) last week, Google+ has been growing by at least 4% per day, meaning that around 2 million new users have been signing up each day.Once the business profiles are released, companies will be able to create pages and circles and have access to the newly announced feature that allows users to share their Google+ circles.
Is Google+ trying to compete with Facebook and Twitter?
I don’t think so, not directly anyway. As Google+ develops it seems increasingly clear that the emphasis is less on creating yet another social network and more about socially enhancing use of the web. Eventually everyone will need a Google+ account because it’s more or less impossible to use the internet without using Google owned sites, but what Google+ does is different to what Facebook and Twitter do.
The main distinction from Facebook is Google+ hangouts. Businesses will be able to host hangouts with fans / customers and then broadcast them via YouTube. Google+ also potentially offers businesses a safe place to test new ideas, trying them out on small circles of fans before pushing a new idea / product to their entire customer base.
The +1 button is going to be HUGE for businesses. If you own a brand page and use +1 buttons on other sites you own, you can create links between them to show that they are official and improve search rankings. +1 buttons will appear on all ads within the Google Display Network; +1ing them will count towards the final landing URL. Google ads will be more relevant than ever as they will be based on their friends’ +1s and ad clicks.
Through integration of +1, Circles, and other Google+ functionality with their Chrome browser, Android phones and tablets, Gmail, Google Reader, Blogger, Google Photos, and other properties, Google will be giving over a billion web users repeated chances to sign up for and use the functionality of Google+.
Running competitions as a business or brand on Google+ will be pretty straightforward unless they are using them to try and gain +1s on their content (in order to improve search rankings), so campaigns will have to be a bit different to the all-too-common ‘like us on Facebook to win…’ style competitions! One thing brands will be able to do is use inclusion in Circles as a contest incentive.
Circles are now shareable
A few changes have been made to circles (a feature that allows users to split up their contacts into groups), allowing greater manipulation of those groups of contacts, most interestingly the option to share them.
You can find this new feature in the ‘Circles’ menu – click on the circle you want to share, select the “share this circle” option, then choose who you want to share it with. Circles can be shared with individuals, other circles, or publicly. Sharing circles will reveal who is in the circle, but the name of the circle is not shared (nor are any subsequent updates).
The feature will help users share topic-based circles, allowing friends and other contacts to benefit from the contact hunting and circle curation they’ve already done. Circles will be very helpful for businesses as it will enable them to segment their customers into different circles and push tailored messages to different groups through targeted sharing e.g. one circle for people who are only really interested in your customer service (i.e. they want to complain all the time!) and another circle for those who genuinely want to interact with your brand.