Given the growing popularity of social media, it’s not surprising that Google has launched a new social networking platform for its users. The launch of Google+ is a positive move for the technology giant and shows how businesses are leveraging social media as part of their customer outreach strategy.

In a digital age, putting interactivity at the heart of a company’s marketing strategy enables businesses to build strong customer relationships and boost sales revenues.

Today, social networking platforms are where a brand’s most loyal fans are, providing businesses with an opportunity to engage customers in real-time. Sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ are the fastest growing method for customers to interact with their favourite and most trusted brands.

As a result, businesses can use features such as ‘join our network’, ‘share with your network’, ‘like’ and ‘join our forum’ to turn social media into a high-impact channel that forms a crucial part of a brand’s multi-channel approach.

What has become more obvious than ever before is how important it is to contact customers with relevant information, over their preferred channel and at the optimum moment of time. One of the most effective ways of doing so is to acknowledge the importance of social networks and integrate channels, such as email and Google+, to increase relevance and engagement.

With email still the power channel and the web, mobile and social networks growing in importance, Google+ will serve as a whole new channel of social engagement for businesses and their customers. Over the next few months, we can expect Google+ to build a large user base in order to gain momentum while the platform is in limited beta mode.

During this time, businesses should monitor Google+ to see who is using the platform and how. Like Facebook and Twitter, Google+ will enable organisations to gather information about their customers and prospects.

For example, who is in their networks, what brands do they engage with online and what content they are interacting with. Businesses can then use this information to get to know their customers and engage them in dialogue about their brand through timely and relevant campaigns.

As Google+ is still in its beta phase, the marketing potential available to businesses remains to be seen. Opportunities may include ad-based pay-per-click or similar models that, when combined with “no charge” offerings such as corporate pages, listings and organic SEO can provide a robust offering of services graduating from “free” to paid-for features.

With its potential marketing revenues, strong customer base and innovative business tools, Google+ could become a powerful mechanism that joins together the more established social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace.

Businesses will then be able to use this tool to integrate the data from these social channels to collate insight and deliver integrated email and social campaigns as part of a cross-channel approach.