Just when a marketing strategy in 140 characters or less started to seemed normal, the social media scene for businesses completely changed this week. Google debuted Google+ Pages, the brand-specific accounts for its new social network. Pepsi has joined, as have Macy’s and Toyota. And experts say, you should, too, if you haven’t already.
“You should be willing to accept that Google is going to have a powerful social network on which you should have a presence,” says Rand Fiskin, a former marketing consultant and current CEO of SEOMoz, an SEO software company.
Not convinced? Here are some stellar reasons your business needs a Google+ Page.
1. Because it will boost your SEO. Google+ has just a fraction of Facebook’s audience—40 million users versus 800 million—and will likely do anything within its power to even that gap.
To draw more attention to the social network, Google could fundamentally alter its algorithm to move Google+ pages to top of search results. Or it might not alter search results directly, instead creating a prominent widget displaying Google+ Pages in the search results’ upper right-hand corner, perhaps near the sponsored advertisements, says Eric Clemons, a Wharton School management professor who has studied Google for Congress.
“All the risk, all the pain is borne by the company who isn’t found,” Clemons says.
2. Because your message will have a longer shelf-life . There's another angle to Google+'s relatively sparse audience.
It means your company’s content won’t have to cut through as much clutter in a Google+ stream, which is the equivalent of Facebook’s news feed.
Fishkin recently ran a little test to judge Google+’s potential. He distributed three posts through Google+, Facebook, and Twitter, and used different Bit.ly links in each, so he could see the analytics behind each. The results surprised him: The one sent through Google+ kept people on his site longer and had a higher click-through rate.
3. Because it will be the social network for businesses. Twitter is for sharing links. LinkedIn? Professional networking. Facebook? Mostly socializing--sharing pictures, posting comments to friends and family. These social media platforms already have dedicated uses. But Google+ has no brand distinction at all. (Good for you in this case. Bad for Google.)
Users have no expectations toward Google+ at all. This means they won't be deliberately avoiding interaction with brands and businesses, like some Facebook users, says Susan Etlinger, a social media analyst at the Altimeter Group.
Remember: Not all businesses have smoothly merged onto Facebook. When Spotify and Facebook announced an unique partnership in late September, complaints arose over Spotify requiring new members to register through a Facebook account.
4. Because it's just easier to deal with. Another main attraction behind Google+ is circles. These work like Facebook’s lists, and allow users to group followers in certain categories. While Facebook’s lists are new and fairly crude, Google+’s circles work fluidly, Etlinger says.
Circles can be created within a few key strokes. Followers can be sorted into circles as added or through the circles page within an account. This allows you to easily direct different content to separate customer bases—with each base catalogued as a circle. Maybe vendors and supply chain partners would exist in separate circles, too.
“It really provides a foundation for a much deeper and richer experience, albeit a more narrow one,” Etlinger says.
You should, at this point, notice a certain refrain. Similar to Facebook. Like Twitter. Google has cannibalized the best features of both social networks. Also good for you.
“Google+ will feel very familiar,” says Dave Hanley, principal at the Banyan Branch, a social media marketing agency. “Google+ is clearly evolutionary, not revolutionary. I think businesses will know exactly what to do.”