Google+ accounts for business. Social media advice in South Africa

By Charlie Stewart, July 15, 2011 09:50 am

Google's latest foray into the social environment is looking as though it might be a winner, but will it work for businesses?

In case you've somehow missed the hype, Google+ is up, functioning, and drawing more followers by the day. But sadly, it’s not available for business use just yet.

Although the platform is still in its beta phase, the last 3 or 4 weeks have seen the global search giant's latest stab at the social environment gain considerable traction.

With a completely different approach to the non-event that was Buzz and the flop that was Wave, Google+, or just (+) if you're down with the lingo, has given the world's internet users a very clear indication that Facebook might not maintain the social monopoly for as long as everyone had imagined.

This is all well and good on the social front.

Consumers are seemingly happy to give the platform a try, and comfortable with placing their trust in Google's hands once more. The interface is funky and the concept of "circles" is a refreshing move away from the structural norms put in place by Facebook.

With more people joining the movement by the day, and with Google slowly releasing more features as well as integrating (+) with their existing products, the minds behind the platform's rollout look to be doing things correctly, and pushing all the right consumer buttons.

But what does this mean for businesses?

There are no secrets surrounding the number of companies and corporate entities that utilise social spaces to deliver sales messages. It's practically unheard of these days to find a company that does not have a Facebook page or that isn't Tweeting their latest deals. But is the (+) environment ready for this? Is it even conducive for businesses to operate in?

In short, no.

Or rather, not yet. There have long been debates surrounding the presence of businesses on social networks, and there are considerable numbers of supporters on both sides of the fence. Although the recent norms regarding companies on Facebook specifically, and in digital social environments in general, has moved away from direct sales messages towards structuring community environments and creating branded discussion spaces, there is still a considerable number of people  that believe social spaces to be no place for businesses.

The fact that businesses were able to utilise Facebook in a direct sales capacity as well as in the structuring of brand-orientated communities, has as much to do with the receptiveness of the consumers as it does with the Facebook platform.

A consumer on Facebook can subscribe to the information made available by a business in the same way that they can subscribe to information posted by a friend. All this information is made available in a constant, general newsfeed on the consumer's home page.

If that consumer wishes to see more information on a particular business or person, they simply click through to the respective profile or page. If they decide that they no longer want that information, they can choose to hide the feeds in question from their Home page, or they can go so far as to unfriend the person or unlike the page. There is however no differentiation when it comes to the user's newsfeed. The posts made by any person or business that a user is connected to will show up in the newsfeed.

Google(+) doesn't work like that. Once a consumer chooses to make a connection with another entity on (+), the platform forces the consumer to place that entity in a "circle", or a category if you will.

The consumer has the option of segmenting his/her contacts to such an extent that they have full control over who connects with them, and how those connections take place. For example, a consumer has the option of only receiving information from their friends, or from a selected group within their friends.

The converse is equally simple, and simply excluding information from certain people or sources is not only possible, but almost encouraged in the manner that the platform is structured.

This is all somewhat irrelevant however, considering the limited number of people on (+) at the moment versus the number of people using Facebook. This is set to change with the increase in active daily users as well as the slow release of more features from Google.

Perhaps most important is the fact that Google is specifically trying to create a version of (+) for businesses, and that they're specifically against businesses utilising (+) as consumers.

Here's an interesting article and video on the subject. Essentially, Google wants businesses to be patient, and will remove business profiles from the current (+) if they deem it necessary.

Whether or not Google(+) will be as successful as Facebook and whether it will present the same marketing opportunities for businesses is up for debate, and only time will tell.

Considering the hype and momentum demonstrated over the last month, it is very possible that Facebook might have a real problem on their hands if they wish to remain the top dog in the social marketplace, and businesses might very well have a new and exciting arena to work in.

We’ll keep you posted via our blog as more news emerges on Google + for business. And if you’d like any help in defining your organisation’s social media strategy, be sure to give us a call or drop us a mail.

Written by Charlie Stewart
Share this
Charlie Stewart