Since its inception, Google+ has spurred more than its fair share of debate among social media consulting firms and small business entities alike. While Google is the undisputed leader in search, the ability to topple leading social media giants like Facebook and Twitter has yet to be demonstrated. Even after all this time, the great debate about Google+ continues. Today we are going to establish a few interesting facts, provide some exciting stat’s and explain how and when Google+ provides great options and alternatives to small business owners of all sizes.
Pro’s versus Con’s
Before we get started, let’s spend a bit of time covering the basics about Google+. Without a doubt, one of the clear-cut benefits of working with Google+ is the seamless integration between other Google services including search, Gmail, Docs, Picassa, Chat and Hangouts. It’s super simple to see the advantage of the seamless integration but that must be balanced against the clear defect…even today, Google+ doesn’t have anywhere near the numbers of other mega social media sites like Facebook flying in the face of that traditional wisdom “if you build it they will come”. Apparently not as quickly as anticipated. Obviously, no matter how seamlessly Google+ works with other applications, if insufficient numbers of your family, friends and clients use the service it simply doesn’t work as well as other options. With roughly 100 million users, Google+ certainly isn’t isolated…it’s still one of the largest social media sites in existence…but it’s not the biggest either. However, when the full benefits including enhanced search ratings and other possibilities are weighed as a group, the decision to expand into Google+ takes on a decidedly different perspective.
Google+ Goes Local
In addition to seamless integration, the ability to go local with Google+ is a distinct advantage especially with the inclusion of the new Google+ local button. This feature allows local users to search for restaurants, services or other vendors in their area while accessing pertinent photo’s, reviews, maps and hours. Of course, this makes it imperative that small business owners with local listings be sure to update their Google Places listing! It will now be visible across Google search, maps, mobile and Google+. Take time to respond to reviews, update photo’s, verify the listing and add any needed enhancements in order to maximize your social media marketing results.
Zagat Scores Too!
For those that haven’t heard; Google bought out business survey site Zagat and has now fully integrated it with the new Google+ Local listings. That’s big news for restaurants and other local small business entities covered by Zagat but could be a doubled edged sword for those with lackluster reviews. On a side note, Google has already hinted at the prospect of integrating Zagat into other business listings on a local level especially for service oriented areas. This is an important bit of information which should not be overlooked! Small business owners need to make sure their reputation, client testimonials and other information is in order. Once again, Google+ provides a great single source of information able to seamlessly integrate all these parts into a cohesive user experience but you must use it to gain the greatest benefit!
It’s fast. It works well. It’s optimized for Android and people like it! Okay, still not convinced? Mobile is one of the most important aspects of social media marketing and the ability to seamlessly integrate search, Google + places, hangouts, reviews and more all via mobile is both challenging and exciting in the potential to reach clients when and where it matter most. Speaking of opportunity…this leads us to the next big benefit associated with Google+…better advertisements!
Google Advertising is Getting Bigger & Better
Google Adwords. Whether you love it or hate it, few small business owners can ignore it. SEO companies built an entire industry around the ability to optimize websites and buy keywords but newly established search algorithms combined with the growing importance of social media is radically (and quickly) changing the face of search advertisements….for the better. Google+ is getting ready to launch an advertising system that includes better analytics, more specific campaigns and enhanced user experience. Savvy small business owners should begin preparing now not later!
Less Bloat – More Control
There is yet another reason some small business owners are taking another look at Google+…it’s a way to diversify and protect their social media investment in the event that upcoming changes to Facebook don’t turn out as planned. In light of the recent IPO and numerous upcoming changes to the business, marketing and advertising model on the site, some social media consulting firms and business entities are hedging against volatility by spreading their social media presence across a variety of different platforms. It’s not a totally unfounded concern. While few experts believe Facebook will suffer the same fate as former social media heavyweight “MySpace”, the rapid expansion and extreme volatility could face major growing pains. For instance, while many small business owners rejoice over the ability to pay a small fee to increase visibility of a recent post, others worry the commercialization will rapidly destroy the social equality upon which the platform was built. Clients seem to have mixed reviews with some still wondering why they aren’t apt to see all messages from various contacts and others worried about Facebook becoming a constant stream of spam. In the process of working out the right balance between profit and personalized interaction, diversification into other social media networks is a small price to pay for peace of mind.