Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz around Google+. Some people are predicting that Google+ will give Facebook a run for their money; while others say that Google+ is no threat to Facebook. Either way businesses should be aware of how Google+ works and how they can use this new social platform to their benefit.
As it stands right now, Google+ is focused primarily on individual users. It seems they want to establish an audience of individual users before opening up their platform to businesses and marketers. However, Google+ recently allowed businesses to sign up for a corporate account beta. There was such an overwhelming response that Google will have to sift through the applications to determine which companies will actually get to participate in the beta. Outside of the corporate account beta, there is no word yet, as to when and how businesses will be able to market their products and/or services to individuals with a Google+ account.
Google+ is similar to Facebook because it allows users to share their thoughts, photos, videos, etc with friends. However, Google+ has circles which allows users to choose which group of friends and/or associates they want to share information with. For example: let’s say Jane is friends with her parents, her boss and her weekend buddies on Google +. Over the weekend she goes camping with her family. She can share all her pictures with her parents, along with any sentimental thoughts, and not include her bosses or her weekend buddies. On the same note, she can send her weekend buddies a goofy picture of her and her mom, along with a note that says, “you know how my mom is” without her parents or her boss knowing. This could be a true benefit for advertisers, once Google+ opens up the door to them. If a person has more than one circle of friends, then this could mean that there are greater opportunities for advertisers to segment their message. Other features on Google+ such as Hangouts, Sparks and Huddle may also present an open door for marketers and businesses to reach Google+ users.
Right now, there’s a lot of speculation about what to expect from Google+, especially since it is still in beta. As Google+ unfolds, it should be interesting to see how companies and marketers can use this social platform to reach their target audience.
Every time I write a post about a Google search update, it is always focused around things Google is doing to improve the way users can find relevant content quickly and easily. This post is no different. Just a few days ago, Google began rolling out an update that is taking social search to a new level. There have been many updates over the last few years in an effort to unite social and search, and we can only assume many more updates will come with the growing popularity of social media.
With this most recent update, if you are logged into your Google Account you may begin to see listings shared by your connections within the organic search results. (In the past, data from social connections was limited to the bottom of the search results.) These new social listings will be denoted with an additional line added to the listing, telling you which of your connections shared the link. As the image found in this Search Engine Land post shows, the listings from social connections are often given a higher importance.
This seems to make sense in that if one of your friends has shared a link related to your specific search term, you would likely be more interested in that link instead of one that does not have an “endorsement” by a friend or connection. Keep in mind that any listings as a result of this social search update will be specific to you (as your connections are going to be different than the next person looking for something similar). Google has access to tons of information on the web and these social search results can be pulled from your connections on sites such as Twitter, Flickr, FriendFeed, Picasa, Gmail, your Google Contacts, etc.
Other things to keep in mind are that you must have your social accounts connected to your Google Account. If you don’t link your social accounts in any way to your Google account, or if you are not logged in to your Google Account, you will not see these social search listings. Google will even assist you in connecting your social accounts if they find accounts that are specific to you (such as through the same usernames, etc). This way you can then easily link them to your Google Account.
There is a way to currently see who you are connected to through Google’s social circle page. You can build these connections by associating your social accounts with your Google Account as mentioned above. It will be interesting to see how this change to search results influenced by social media will evolve over time.
Is there such a thing as social media privacy? Just weeks after Facebook announces that they have gone public with their user’s personal information, Google announced the launch of real-time web and personalized search queries. Google’s new search functionality will allow anyone looking for information, news or events to see live updates in real-time. Users can now view live public social media messages and have an insight into live breaking news the moment it happens. Google’s launch of real-time search engine results is anticipated to have a significant impact on the social media marketing industry. This new development may have both a negative and positive impact on social media users. This new real-time feature may improve the results of social media campaigns and efforts, by allowing user’s news and events to be published within Google’s search results. Companies will now be able to achieve more consumer engagement and drive more traffic to their websites. This move toward sharing more personal information is enticing for companies with Twitter, Google and Facebook profiles. It is a great incentive for companies to invest more time and effort into their social media efforts and gain more exposure. It is hazy as to whether or not consumers will see the value in sharing their personal information with more than just their friends, but with everyone online.
(Screenshot of Google’s real-time news feed)
Pessimists believe that the new Google real-time feature may be opening a Pandora’s Box, by allowing spammers to get their foot in the Google search door. No one knows whether or not social media users will continue to participate in social media efforts knowing that their news will now go public. Before consumers make up their mind on the new social media circumstances, businesses should take full advantage of social media efforts while the iron is hot. This could be a very beneficial attribute that will allow businesses to gain more targeted publicity.