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A few weeks ago, our hi tech PR agency completed an email migration to Google, which I’m incredibly excited about. Now, I can use all of those helpful Google features for work, such as Google Docs, Google Reader and Gchat.
Then I remembered a little something called Google+ that was released last summer and immediately slated for success. In fact, one industry forecast projects Google+ will reach more than 400 million users by the end of this year. Still, I’ve wondered what makes this anything more than Google’s version of Facebook? What does it offer that makes for distinguished value? Working for a technology PR firm that’s constantly seeking to establish market differentiation among our clients, I sought to learn more.
I found that Google+ offers unique features that benefits businesses, especially growing ones like W2 Communications. They include:
Google+ Hangouts. One of the most exciting features of Google+ is the Hangouts tool. Hangouts is a free video conferencing tools that allows up to 10 participants. This is a great tool for office group meetings or client meetings, which our agency constantly conducts. What if you want to invite more than 10 people, you ask? Google is currently working on Google+ On Air which allows Hangout to become a video broadcast instead of a video conference. When it becomes available to all Google+ users, it could be a great tool to use for larger meetings, press conferences and product announcements.
Integration with other Google products. Google+ is gaining more users every day as it gets integrated with other Google products. For example, if you use Reader to keep up with several RSS feeds, with Google+ you can easily share articles and blogs so they can possibly be re-shared. I’m personally most excited about Google Docs integration with Google+ Hangouts. With this feature, you could collaborate with colleagues or clients on Hangouts to view documents, edit and share notes together.
Measurement Tools. Google is working on several analytic tools to help users see as much data as possible that relates to their Google+ Pages. One measurement tool Google+ uses is called Ripples. Ripples allows you to identify top influencers by showing how your posts spread across Google+, who’s sharing and re-sharing your posts and whose opinions matter in the community.
Then, there are Google+ features that effectively mirror Facebook offerings. So users considering a complete switch still get to keep the social-media functions they’ve enjoyed, yet experience them through the Google brand: Google+ Pages for Businesses is a destination for Google+ users to seek out information on your company, and to possibly follow you by adding your company’s Page to their Circles. Using Pages, you can publish posts, launch Hangouts and manage your Circles. Your Circles allows you to share relevant content with the right groups of people, whether they’re colleagues or clients. +1 Recommendations are the Google+ equivalent to Facebook ‘likes.’ This tool can be used in a number of ways to promote your business, as users will look to +1’s from their friends using Google+ when searching for recommendations.
Some folks would say Google+ amounts to a potential big bust for Google, that it can’t compete with other social network power houses such as Facebook and Twitter. I disagree. I think as Google amps up their marketing efforts ‑ and as it gets integrated with other Google products like Android ‑ people will begin to understand its distinct value and use it more actively. When that happens, your company should already have a presence on Google+, and come up with a strategy to bring in those +1s!
Tiffany Peng is an account coordinator at W2 Communications.