Michael Reynolds in General on Thursday, March 28, 2013
We've been getting lots of questions lately about Google+. Questions like: "do I need to be on Google+?" and "What are your thoughts on Google+?"
It's understandable that you might be fatigued with the thought of joining yet another social network and then keeping up with it. Sounds dreadful, right?
Maybe. While no one should feel obligated to join this network or that network, there is value in being informed so you can make a good decision about how to spend your time in marketing.
What is Google+?
Let's start with the basics. Google+ is a social network from Google. Plain and simple. Ok, there's more to it than that but if you're looking for a very basic explanation, that will do. You can post status updates, photos, links, comments, and videos – just like that other popular social network out there.
So, if you're looking for another social network to keep up with... here you go! No? Well, let's dig deeper.
How Google+ affects your business visibility
If you genuinely like Google+ and you find it fun to hang out on, then go for it. You're all set. However, if you like most marketing pros and business leaders, you're probably more interested in how it can help your business.
There is one main reason to care about this network from a business standpoint, and it's spelled SEO. Your search engine rankings can play a big part in your visibility as an organization, especially in the B2B market. Many organizations spend thousands of dollars per month and lots of time in order to try to push their rankings higher in Google's search results for targeted keywords.
Social signals have played a part in search rankings for a while now, but the game is changing (again) to favor individual authors more heavily in the mix of signals. AuthorRank is Google's way of taking some weight away from PageRank (based on the organization's overall score) and onto actual people – which actually makes a lot of sense.
People want to work with people that they know, like, and trust. This has been true since the dawn of time. This is why I love AuthorRank. It gets back to basics and creates a world where companies can't simply throw lots of money and time at SEO and achieve great (and sometimes undeserved) rankings. Instead, we are entering a world where individual people have to contribute value. The philosophy then becomes an adaptation: people want to work with and learn from people they know, like, and trust.
What does this mean for you? It means no more hiding behind your logo and corporate brand. Smart organizations are learning how to nurture the online profiles of their sales people, their marketing team, and their executives. These individuals must learn to produce content and value and be a trusted resource in the virtual world.
And since Google owns Google+, is there any doubt which network it will favor most?
This quote from Eric Schmidt sums it up nicely:
"Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance."
An eye toward collaboration
Google+ also has a strong focus on business collaboration. The Hangout feature is shaking up the world of collaboration by making group video conferencing free, easy, and fun. Hangouts can be accessed from virtually (no pun intended) any device, such as computer, tablet, or smart phone. The quality is surprisingly good and this tool is helping small groups, committees, and boards save time and money by meeting virtually.
Google+ Communities are also allowing organizations to create private spaces for collaboration internally or with customers/members. We're running a community right now for Inbound Marketing Academy, which allows our participants to share ideas and start ad-hoc video hangouts to collaborate.
Is Google+ right for you?
Bottom line: there is no one size fits all recommendation when it comes to marketing. We have many clients who are very successful completely ignoring a particular social network while others get 25% of their business from it. It depends on your goals, your business, and your target market.
Whatever you decide, it's important to understand how Google is positioning this social network. I would ask the following questions:
- Is search engine visibility important to my business?
- Am I in a business in which personal relationships are valued?
- Am I willing to build a team of highly visible people?
If you feel positive about all of these points, I would recommend carving out some time to include Google+ in your strategy. If you do, circle me and hit me up for a hangout sometime. I'd love to chat.
Image credit: AHMAD FAIZAL YAHYA / Shutterstock.com