Friday, July 29, 2011

Is Google+ Really Worth It?

Google+, a replacement for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? Stop right there. While Google+ is a major (and exciting) advancement on the social side of the web, no one can determine how fast and how far it will go just yet -- and how much it will offer marketers. So while it’s definitely worth exploring, corporate communicators shouldn’t be abandoning ship on existing social strategies just yet. Um, if they even have one….

Even though Google+ is touting itself as the be-all in social, we know that a single social media platform can’t offer everything we need for every client - especially considering the variety of niche social media news and bookmarking sites (hello Tipd and DesignBump) adding value to companies and to their exposure built on search results. Even if a single social media platform did had everything we wanted in one place, we’d be asking where our existing competitors, partners, and supporters were, because we need to establish and maintain a presence in their corner of the web as well. With so many factors at play, it’s neither likely nor plausible that Google+ will whisk away the majority of users from large-scale social media platforms in the early stages.

There will, of course, be lovers and haters of Google+, if for more nothing more than it appearing to be an also-ran. And while Google+ might be a latecomer, it’s a latecomer that has had years to evaluate what makes social networking platforms fail and falter with users -- and what makes them win. From my initial research, privacy and integration are two major factors attracting Google+ users: they’ll be able to integrate their mail and applications with Google+, and G+’s limited-user test allows Google to address security issues before opening it up to a wider audience. It’s also the first social network that allows users to download captured data on them at any time. Nice one.

So what’s my advice to marketers exploring Google+? Understand how functionalities absent from other sites, like Circles, can help boost business. Google+ is the fastest-growing social net ever, and it’s not even open for business profile creation yet (although this is slated for fall 2011). Google+ can aid traffic development and content generation, and although preparing to expand with Google+ is a must, researching how it can specifically work for you is the very first step.

It isn’t social media’s panacea – but it could be a great start.

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