Google+ Brand Pages Brain Food
After four months, Google+ has opened its doors to brands. The resulting marketing opportunities and search implications are significant – from new search functions that could potentially shape Internet users’ behavior to raising tough questions that should prompt marketers to analyze even the most core assumptions.
It can be argued that Google had made some initial missteps in the way it rolled out the social service, excluding businesses from joining and then restoring some brand pages for testing. Now we can see why brands’ entrance to the social network was delayed. Local business and national brands/organizations have different forms. And there’s even new search lexicon; you can use the Google Chrome omnibar to navigate to brand Google+ pages (for example, search [+pepsi] and you’re taken straight to Pepsi’s Google+ page.
Here’s thought-provoking analysis found on the story’s Hacker News comment thread:
This looks like the first time Google’s fundamental search syntax has been changed to support a new product. Right? Wow.
So I guess now we know how meaningful the “plus” is. It at first seemed like a generic advertising term, like “Google Deluxe”. Then when we started using G+, it seemed like it was just their riff on the @ syntax. Now we know it goes all the way to the input box on www.google.com, the very center of the Google user experience.
Now, queries starting with a plus basically shunt you to Google+ instead of web search. To the average Google user, it’s like their country’s phone company created new phone numbers that start with #. Can they do that? They just did.
The upshot is that Google has officially carved out part of the web search query universe just for a namespace of its own. Remember this day.
If Google+, Google Chrome were adopted by the masses, this functionality would turn the browsing, search and interaction/engagment experience into one streamlined process.
In the New York Times’ coverage, Google VP of products paints a picture of how the company envisions brand’s use of Google+: “Over time, I expect ‘+Pepsi’ to emerge on every can, on TV spots and on the Web site and become a cult phenomenon,” Mr. Horowitz said. “Over a couple of quarters, brands will learn to utilize this.”
However, critics of the move have pointed to several reasons they see brands unfit for this social space, with reasons ranging from devaluing the service by adding noise to tone-deafness by businesses. In reply to a declaration in Google’s announcement post, one Hacker News commenter wrote:
> you can build relationships with all the things you care about – from local businesses to global brands
Do people in marketing even hear themselves? I’m going to be charitable and assume this is ad copy aimed at other marketers because no real human has ever wished they could build a relationship with a global brand. Now if you excuse me, I need to go like the Guinness page on facebook.
Luckily for marketers, there was a general consensus that tech savvy Internet users and average users alike are more than likely to seek out and engage with favored brands online. Users are also very interested in how their friends and colleagues interact with brands and much social influence occurs online today.
However, it’s worth a moment of consideration for any marketer looking to get started a brand started on Google+. Have a strategy in place for how to use Google+ and make it a unique and valuable offering among a brand’s many online identities.