I wrote a blog a few days ago and my prediction was that the only way for Google to make businesses come to Google+ Business, would be to make that page relevant for search engines. I would like to add a couple of other points to this – as I believe originality is key when it comes to launching new social media tools. It has been almost two weeks since Google+ announced the launch of their business pages and there are already hundreds if not thousands of articles posted on the Internet, including how-to-guides, lists of the benefits of having a Google+ page, how it will dominate the social world and of course the SEO benefits that such a tool can provide to the business world.
Here is some feedback from those who read my last blog:
“For many business owners and small businesses, Google results are the only way to be found by customers/prospects, to make new leads and make big money………. But the most important thing I think will make a difference, is that the Plus (different from the ‘Like’), will be connected to the search results in Google”.
A second user asked me this:
“Would you still use Facebook if most of your friends are on Google+? (which is exactly what has happened with Myspace and Orkut when Facebook launched).”
Browse through various discussions in small business forums and on LinkedIn and you can witness overexcitement about Google+ and a hurry-up-and-make-a profile mentality all over the Internet. Most will say that we cannot be negative and write off this brand new social network, especially when it is part of the big Google machine, but I beg to differ.
Google’s market share is strong, but is Google+ even better than Facebook?
Fondalo, founder and CEO of Bundlepost published one of the most solid opinions I have read about why Google+ will not prevail over Facebook and he also discussed market share. I agree completely with his analysis – the perceived “best” does not always conquer the marketplace (Blue Ray versus DVD is an example as Blue Ray provides much better viewing experiences than DVDs and still never made it), but what I want to add is that in Google+’s case it is questionable as to whether it is “better” than Facebook. Google+ should have never been launched in the first place – not before it was completed anyway if they wanted to stand a chance competing with Facebook.
When you launch a product in the market you can see peoples’ reactions and improve it. You can evaluate its technical performance and improve it with patch releases and updates, hear additional user comments, run discussions through forum and blogs and make better versions etc. Google has done it before and worked brilliantly (see for example Gmail which improves day by day and now is maybe the best email service in the world.)
Google+ is not a product
The difference with Google+ is that it is not a product; it is a “place” where people socialise. And if the initial experience is bad or incomplete people will lose interest. Imagine you go to a club and leave the place with a bad experience – you would not go back too easily no matter how many cheap tickets you are offered or how many discounts they lay on the table. You would just stick to the clubs you like or carry on exploring new ones – the world is a huge market. Google relied too much on the fact that it is “Google” when it launched Google+, and majorly failed because people did not find it good enough or interesting.
Even the Executive Chairman and former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, only posted his first Google+ profile, when Steve Jobs died around three months after Google+ went live – not exactly great publicity for your product!
Ok but what about SEO?
Ok let us take it for granted that “Google results are the only way to be found by customers/prospects” and being signed up to Google+ will help you to be found more easily and get you higher rankings overall.
But found by whom exactly? If prospects are those millions on facebook who do not want to move over to Google+, what is the point in joining a social network where you do not socialise at all, just enhance your SEO campaign? And since when has joining a social network been about SEO? Facebook, Twitter and all other popular social media platforms already help you to be found easily. You think your clients have five different social network accounts and if they do have them will they follow the same company five times? Well, no they will not. There is no point in doing that. If a campaign works with Google+, it will work on any social network. The question is which social network right now are you prospects using? That should be your focal point.
Hang on a minute! Social networks DO serve different target audiences right?
Of course they do! For example, there is a big difference between Facebook and Linkedin target audiences, but I do not think that Google+ is trying to target a different audience from Facebook, rather get in the social game and snap up some of the market share. They did the same with Google Buzz to get market share from Twitter. They stopped the product a few weeks ago because their market share in comparison to Twitter was non-existent, in other words they failed. There are million of examples of Google products not making it. Remember Google Books? Failed…now they are building Google TV. I imagine it will fail for the same reason Google Books failed and I would not invest much hope in Google Music either, not in its current state at least.
I disagree with the statement that Google results are the only way to be found when it comes to small businesses. I believe that networking (and most importantly location-based networking) is the most important source of business for these people. And social media marketing is the best networking tactic you can practise on the internet right now, more powerful than Google or anything else. There are plenty of popular social media networking tools that help you directly connect with your target audience and their circles (friends or personal networks), but most importantly you will be able to identify the “language” used, keywords and terminology used for your product or services by your ideal target audience, topics that concern them in your industry sector, trends and so much more intelligence that with proper use will propel you up the rankings. All of this is invaluable information, will keep you in the pole position and help you start building personal relationships with your audience and design a very accurate marketing strategy by directly connecting with them as well as providing content that will add value to your brand and products. And I believe that if you do your job well and start a buzz around your name on Facebook groups and status updates, not only will people who are interested in your products find you, but you will also be able to reach those who do not care about your products but see your name liked or referred to on a friend’s wall. And that is the power of social media marketing!
To conclude (I am very passionate about this subject – apologies if my long answer makes you feel tired) businesses should be where their prospects are. So the proper question is where are these people? Where do your customers hang out? It does not matter where YOU will be for the sake of your SEO, rather where THEY will be to network and connect. I highly doubt Google+ will give you any sort of advantage against a competitor who is socially engaged with your audience in depth. If Google wants people to leave Facebook and go to Google+ they will need a lot more than what they are currently offering. Google+ do nothing new or innovative in comparison to Facebook (at the moment) so I can not see how millions will leave Facebook for Google+ and convince their 150 friends (average friend number per page on facebook) to follow them there so they can do exactly what they are already doing on Facebook. In order to win in the social media world you need something innovative, not another copy cat.
If you enjoyed the read and found this article useful please +1 it and share it via the social media buttons below. You will find these posts also at the official Atladas Media web site specialising in social media marketing services @: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk at the Blog Section. Site still under construction so bear with me