The consensus of opinion from digital media pundits seems to be that, with Google+, the search giant is finally on the right track with its social media strategy. The new service does everything you can do with Facebook or Twitter and more besides.
What’s got most people excited is the Circles feature which makes it possible to segment your network in quite sophisticated ways and target your updates at different circles.
It looks likely that Google+ will carve out a respectable user base over time, but at this stage it’s very difficult to predict how the service will evolve and what kind of community it will attract. With that in mind, it’s hard to know exactly what the opportunity for brands might be.
It’s also worth mentioning that Google has yet to officially announce details of what kind of features it will make available for businesses that want to build a presence on the platform.
A limited number of organisations are currently testing these features in private with Google, but little information has been made public yet, so any discussion of the opportunity for brands is largely going to be based on speculation and educated guesswork.
Through its advertising platform, Google has developed a wealth of experience in helping businesses effectively target consumers, and it’s safe to assume that the full weight of that experience will be brought to bear in designing the business features of Google+. The ability to segment your audience into circles is also likely to play a key role in the offering to business users.
Expect tools that will enable your brand to engage with audiences in a highly granular and targeted way, and expect the kind of powerful analytical capabilities we’ve previously seen in tools like Google Analytics. I’d also hazard a guess that Google AdSense (or a variant thereof) may be integrated into the control panel.
The integrated video-conferencing feature, Hangouts, also presents a strong opportunity. Brands are increasingly using social media channels like Twitter to provide customer support for people who find those channels to be the most convenient method of communicating with them.
The Hangouts tool could give brands the ability to offer an instant face-to-face video chat with support or sales staff, adding a much needed human-touch to their profile. Again, this is pure speculation, but it seems like a great opportunity.
While Google+ certainly has some interesting potential, there’s no point in businesses jumping on the bandwagon before they really understand the opportunity and at present we still know too little about how the service will develop.
It’s still very much in the testing and early adopter phase. We recommend keeping a close eye on how Google+ evolves, because it’s certain to offer some strong possibilities for business in the not too distant future.