Since Google launched their social media platform Google + in 2011 a lot of articles have been written about what the future will bring for the sociosphere and what impact ‘another social networks’ will have on the ecosystem. In the beginning there were more negative comments, but now you gradually hear opinion leaders changing their minds. Two years later we see that Google has made an enormous amount of technical changes to its platform AND is adapting the strategy for its other products in their portfolio, all this in favor of Google+.
Taking into account Google’s power on online behavior, it’s a next logical step for the company to ‘own’ a booming social network. Therefore I’m sure they will even put more massive resources in Google+ the coming years. And if you don’t subscribe because it’s not in your interest at the moment, they’ll make sure it becomes interesting for you to make a profile. Google acquired Youtube, owns Gmail, is investing in a lot of small tech start-ups and most importantly owns the search engine Google. The first step in politely pushing people to use Google+ is the introduction of the Hummingbird algorithm. One of the implications of this new algorithm is that Google values websites that include the +1 buttons in a smart way, higher than exactly the same websites that do not include the +1 button. Also all Gmail and Youtube activity is now taken into account in your SEO performance. And it even goes further… without a Google + account you will soon not be able to perform any activity on your favorite video platform any more. Or to put it as Jawed Karim did: “Why the f*** do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?”
In the social network lifecycle there is at the moment a movement towards A/ more visual content B/ more ‘news’-worthy content. Facebook recently changed its edgerank algorithm again. The main purpose is to ‘offer the user a better experience’. Analyses shows that people are mostly interested by ‘news’ content. These types of Facebook posts, its open graph action and thus ‘social stories’ get the most interaction in terms of post clicks, shares, referral links, likes and comments. With the rising amount of advertisers entering the “Face-o-sphere” it becomes a battle for advertising space on Facebook. Combine this trend with the fact that Facebook aims to offer ‘the best content for you’, they changed their algorithm based on this vision. It’s Facebook’s mission ‘to be the best personalized newsfeed’. This implies a disruption in Facebook content planning for brands. They cannot longer just spread memes and fun stuff. Qualitative content will be king again. If you take this ‘news’ trend into account, you see Facebook is more and more entering the atmosphere of Twitter and Google +. The latter platforms are inherently more “news” minded than Facebook. So they’ve got an advantage here. Now, take a look at Google + in depth. It’s the excellent platform to position your brand as visually as possible. And it combines the best of both worlds. Its “newsfeed” is news content optimized.
Google’s new features are just great to explore as a brand. Completing your profile to 100% assures your brand’s website a higher ranking in Google search results. These results are even accompanied by company pictures, albums, a dedicated Google maps place, maybe a virtual tour, etc. Additionally you’ve got Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your company website to start a conversation with your consumer, BUT… Have you ever heard of Google+ hangout sessions? At the moment mostly global brands are making smart use of this feature. In short your brand can start a conversation online with up to 10 people (consumers, suppliers, all kinds of stakeholders) at the same time and above all, you can instantly share this conversation on Youtube via which you can invite as many people as you want to view the conversation. This is what ‘next generation customer service’ looks like and for me this way of using social networks is the ultimate expression of ‘closeness’ to your consumers.
Last but not least. You belong to the non-believers of Google+? No worries! A lot of people do not see the potential yet. However, what’s wrong with already claiming your brand domain in this social network. Nobody knows which social medium (if any) is going to stand out the next few years. Are the 5 main players (Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google+ and Facebook) going to stay complementary or are they converging into the same social space more and more? What about the platform and technology adoption rates? Are they speeding up in Europe compared to USA? Are brands going to put the focus on advertising or on content? Let’s wait and see, but be prepared! Anyhow, my advice is to take Google+ seriously the next coming months!