Google Plus for Marketers – It’s All About Relevance

Google+ - It's All About Relevance

I am very excited to share my first thoughts and impressions after using Google+ for the last few days.  Also, as an email marketer, I want to focus on how this will impact businesses and what it means for the world of email.

So far, I love the concept of circles.  Some people on the Internet are saying it's too complicated, and people will never use it, but I've found it very intuitive.  I have yet to look at any of the Help videos, and I've only glanced at the Help documentation, yet everything seems to be where you would expect it and work the way you would want it to. For example, when you run across a post by someone interesting, you can hover over their name and have the option to add them to any of your circles.  For "Internet famous" people like Robert Scoble, I've been adding them to my "Following" circle.
Following on Google+

There's no point in trying to run down all of the features and functionality of Google+.  Many professional bloggers are doing a great job of that already.  Here are a few of the best posts I've found so far: 

A few G+ users with lots of interesting content already:
Robert Scoble
Kevin Rose
MG Siegler (techcrunch)

Jay Baer writes an incredibly insightful post about what Goolge Plus means to businesses:

Ian Lurie who always has the marketing impact in mind:

A couple of great posts from Chris Brogan:

Google+ impact on web analytics (how to measure traffic coming from G+)

A fun look back at SXSW where ReadWriteWeb spilled the beans.  Everyone thought that Google would launch the network then, but turns out it took a few more months.

First Impressions

  1. It's easy to set up circles that match your real-life social and professional networks.
    Because G+ supports both asymmetrical (Twitter/following) relationships and  bi-directional relationships (FB/Friends), you can get the best of both worlds.  You can follow interesting people and be followed - building an audience for your content.  People can broadcast to a large audience and also share more personal/relevant content with their appropriate circles.
  2. It's easy to follow people who are interesting.
    Hover menus are everywhere in G+.  Just hover over a commenter who you think you'd like to follow and add them to your following circle.  I imagine that one day, everywhere you see someone's name (or a company's name) on the web, you'll be able to add them to a circle.  Would probably be a Google toolbar function.
  3. G+ is going to be huge for marketers.
    Google is building G+ from the ground-up with the commercial platform in mind.  The way circles work will encourage people to follow brands more promiscuously than they currently do on FB and Twitter because they can filter it out of their streams and interact when they want to.  Google also has all of the other pieces to make G+ ubiquitous on the web.  It will quite literally be a web that consumers will be trapped in everywhere they go:  RSS, checkout, blogs, search, ads, etc..  
  4. There are lots of great conversations happening already.  
    Even if you're not in G+ yet, you can see the public conversations, just like on Quora.  You just can comment or add people to circles.  Even with a tightly limited beta, there is tons of traffic.  Most of the discussions seem to be about G+ itself, and most of the buzz is very positive. This openness is in contrast to the walled gardens of other social networks and will encourage uptake and participation.
  5. Circles will be great for setting up professional networks.
    Watch out LinkedIn and Quora, G+ makes it very easy to bring all of your current and former colleagues together with other professionals in your industry to build your brand and have productive discussions.

Recommendations for Marketers

Google+ is not open for businesses yet; business accounts are coming later this year.  Also, they're discouraging businesses from setting up accounts using personal pages.  So what should you do?  Set up your personal account when it opens up to the public.  Learn, share, listen, and build your personal networks. Put a placeholder in your social media strategy for G+ (you do have one, don't you?).

By investing some time over the next few months as an individual, when G+ opens up pages for businesses you'll understand the landscape and you'll know whether your company should engage there or not, and if so, how.

Overall, I think there is tons of potential in Google+ for marketers because it will allow them to build relationships with customers, and most importantly empower customers to interact with companies in a way that provides them relevant content.  G+ will be more like email in that customers can "friend" lots of brands without worrying about junking up their personal streams.  The commercial updates will be filtered into a specific circle where they can browse and interact just as they do today with email.

Google will be launching G+ for businesses later this year.  From the news so far, it looks like it will be awesome for businesses and marketers.  To keep up with the latest developments, you can follow Christian Oestlien, he's the Ads Lead for the G+ project.  His stream contains lots of interesting insight into what's going on:
How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands, and we want to create an optimal experience for both. We have a great team of engineers actively building an amazing Google+ experience for businesses, and we will have something to show the world later this year.

What Does Google+ Mean for Email?

Once again, a powerful social networking platform proves that email is the fundamental social network on the web. When you share content on Google+, if your friends don't have accounts, you have the option of having the post emailed to them.  Email is ubiquitous and not tied to any proprietary platform, so it will continue to be the glue that binds these networks together, drives adoption, and facilitate transactions.  ExactTarget has a whole set of research in our Subscribers Fans and Followers series that examines this phenomenon.  I highly recommend a look.

Follow Me

If you've found this post interesting, follow me at the link below.  One of the odd quirks about G+ at this stage is that you don't really have any way of creating a vanity url. Everyone just has a big long number.  It'll be interesting to see what they do there.

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