Contributed by Anshul Jain, CEO and Founder of ThoughtBuzz
Barely launched a couple of weeks ago, Google+ has already passed the 10 million users mark. It is the fastest growing social network to date. Although the service is still in its beta stage, the web is abuzz with glowing reviews and people seeking invites.
After the debacle of Google Buzz, Google has been more restrained and tight-lipped about their social strategy. But now that Google+ is here, it’s important to understand its place in the world of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for brands and businesses alike.
Google has already said that businesses should wait before using Google+ as they are still developing tools for brands. Companies should pay heed to this advice and be patient. This would help in reducing mistakes that businesses made when they first started using Facebook as a marketing tool, even before Facebook Pages came into existence. Nevertheless, Google+ provides new ways for brands to interact with their target audience.
Circles, in Google+ allows you to organize your contacts based on demographics, interests or even the degree of engagement. This could have great potential for businesses. Right now, if I am a fan of a business on Facebook, unless I “hide” the comment, I have to read each and every update, offer or deal they post, even though I might not be interested in it. However, using Circles in Google+, brands have the option of pushing messages meant for a specifically targeted audience, all from a single platform, reducing the noise that a consumer has to go through. At the end of the day, if “liking” a page results in your wall being bombarded with inane comments, the chances are high that you will soon ‘’unlike’’ it, which would mean the business loses a fan and very likely, a potential customer.
But the single most important feature of Google+ for consumers and brands alike could turn out to be Hangouts. Hangouts allows instant video chats between people. Think of it as Skype but within the browser. Michael Dell briefly mentioned that Hangouts could be used for customer service for technology companies. It could also provide a solution when people having similar problems are grouped together and are serviced by a single customer service representative, leading to a decline in the number of support calls.
Of course all of the above might change, when Google actually reveals what they have in store for businesses, and then companies may discover new and better ways to engage with their consumers. However one thing that will not change is the tight integration that Google+ offers with other Google services, such as YouTube. Brands might just love this integration all from one platform, which could create a significant advantage for Google over Facebook/Twitter.
Google could also do itself and brands a favor by sharing what their plans are for businesses as things progress, as businesses would like to know this before they truly invest time and money on this platform.
Anshul Jain is the CEO and Founder of ThoughtBuzz and responsible for developing the Asia Pacific market for the company. In this role, Anshul overseas strategy, product management as well as sales activities for APAC.Prior to founding ThoughtBuzz, Anshul worked at Oracle in the BFSI domain managing clients such as Citibank. A true geek, he has worked across Asia and has published a paper on Enterprise 2.0 as a part of his study on social media.