I’ve been surprised by the positive reaction many have had to the launch of Google+. In the same way technology companies rushed to introduce tablet devices in competition with the iPad, Google (for fear of being left out) is yet another brand attempting to jump onto the social networking bandwagon in the hope of becoming the ‘next big thing’.
But, in order to be successful, it must prove that it can offer a new dimension to existing social networking sites, which I’m yet to see. Instead, it feels like Google is trying to force a platform on consumers, leading it to already fail in competing with Facebook which had the first move advantage and was launched and developed in tune with consumer demand.
Many marketers have had their fingers burnt by investing time and money in networks that haven’t taken off, so I would imagine Google+ has its work cut out, trying to attract the marketing industry whilst gain traction amongst everyday internet users.
For brands, this is another channel that I’m sure they would want to exploit just as they do any other social network, and the lure of improving SEO inherent with Google activity will no doubt prove to be a great draw, but I think any involvement would be a mistake.
According to Christian Oestlien, Google’s product manager, Google+ is set to launch a selection of business tools to make the network more appealing and simple to use from an enterprise viewpoint. But, without the public’s buy-in (which will have faced a blow given the recently reported deletion of certain profiles) is there much point in businesses getting involved?
LinkedIn already provides a well populated B2B and B2C social networking environment, whilst Facebook and Twitter have demonstrated astronomical success with various campaigns and customer service issues coming to the fore online.
The value of engaging with consumers on social networks is not in question. However, I’m conscious that this is just another area of the increasingly tight budget that marketers will be hoping to exploit for fear of missing a trick.
New social products and services are going to appear all the time and whilst Google+ may be a technical improvement, it is not the finished product and really does not offer any breakthrough capabilities. The ultimate goal for brands must still be driving the conversation to their own websites, which should be ready and willing to offer as much interactive and personalised content as any social network.
As Jones puts it, ‘don’t panic!’ Let Google+ prove its worth before you spend any of your brand’s time or money.