As I wrote a couple of years ago when FriendFeed was acquired by Facebook, there's a lesson in tools changing or disappearing for all of us who spend time with social media, interact with customers online, or guide corporate digital outreach.
Here it is: We are playing in somebody else's yard. And we can be told to go home at any time. Social media is like sharecropping. Social media is not a replacement for traditional forms of contact with your staff and customers. Don't sacrifice one for the other.
Social media is also not the answer to an ailing business or brand. While you may want to establish a presence in the more mainstream social networks, you should know how to sustain that presence beyond streaming press releases or posting the same content everywhere.
Use a buy strategy to figure out what makes most sense for your business or brand.
Amidst social media fatigue that many business owners and brand managers have been experiencing, due to a number of reasons, first among which are a lack of long term strategy, poor executions, and thus scarce results, Google recently launched Google+ Pages for brands and businesses.
Many are already talking gloom and doom.
Yes, Google will need to address critical features to attract more brands. At a minimum:
- the ability to have more than one G+ Page administrator
- integration with existing work flow tools
- a way to verify official pages (it looks like they're addressing the issue of fan-created pages)
- the ability to look under the hood on traffic through analytics
Those are simple requirements other networks either addressed directly, or let developers address. For example, Hootsuite and coTweet addressed many of these issues for Twitter.
And yes, Google has launched other products that failed to gain traction in the recent past: Wave, Sidewicki, Buzz. Skeptics are forgetting that Google is already a platform, one people are using for search -- and we still get things done through search.
Which means your brand will have a Google+ Page, and here are 3 main reasons why:
(1.) Integration with search through Direct Connect
Because Google+ is integrated on an existing platform everyone is already using to perform searches and get things done, your G+ page will come up in search. Which is why you don't want someone else to take it.
Thinking about your content strategy and how it complements (not duplicate, please) what you're doing in your other digital properties also means you can get a bit more creative.
(2.) Integration with your Website
When you create the G+ Page, the system will take you through a way to link your Website to G+. If you have a blog, that is a natural place for tha link. There are things you will be able to do on G+ that you may not do today on your blog.
Starting a hangout for a product launch, then posting a summary wrap of the questions and answers on G+ at your blog, for example. Michael Dell has been using hangout to talk to customers via his own Google profile+ since the site launched.
(3.) Audience segmentation capability
You probably already have some ways to communicate with your customers -- newsletters, product announcements or updates, etc. You can use circles to lend continuity with those customers who are on G+ into account size, or frequency of communications for lead nurturing, or maybe for a special program.
Say you want to have hangouts or threads only with a certain group for a specific occasion, maybe ramping up to a company event, you can do that by creating a circle with those customers or partners you want in, who have G+ profiles, and you're on your way.
And it's Google, so you have integration with YouTube as well. And although they're saying there will not be advertising there, I'm thinking there will be some integration with their AdWords products.
You don't need to follow or circle someone to be able to share their posts to your G+ Page. Simply search for their profile from the page, then share there.
At first, there may be some confusion about how to tell personal profile and business page.
There is the added bonus that media companies already have Google+ Pages, so if you see a story that needs expansion or correction, or maybe you have something to add to a story, it provides a new place to offer a different angle.
You can find my page here.
[image of +Burberry]