Businesses: Kick the Google+ tires.

Similar to the beginnings of Facebook and Twitter, there’s chatter in the business community about the latest social channel, Google+. “Should we be on it?” “Why do we need another social network?” The answer? Unclear. Right now, Google+ is seeing growth with curious and geeky early adopters. Don’t get scared off if you don’t fit into this group. By getting in early, businesses may find an opportunity to influence how this channel is used going forward.

It seems Google is placing an early bet on what Twitter has provided –  a platform for users with a distinctive voice to communicate with those who specifically choose to follow them.  To many, Twitter is still a scary and mystical entity without a place in their life. (They think the only people tweeting are hipsters who want everyone to know what they’re eating for lunch.) Google, on the other hand, has become  a trusted source to many different types of users to the extent that companies have transitioned their email and calendar systems to it. Creating fast change in corporations? You go, Google!

Mark Zuckerberg is the most followed person on Google+, and possibly not because people love Facebook.  More likely, they are interested in how the Hooded One represents his brand and uses his thought-leader status. Google itself doesn’t have a corporate brand account for Google+, but Larry Page is the number two most followed user.  Brand loyalists want to know: If the mission of Google is to organize the world’s information, how does its CEO use circles and what does he publish?

Abandoning an existing social strategy isn’t advised. (You have one, right?) Set some specific goals for Google+ and give it a try.

Three things businesses can do to try Google+ now:

– Get your thought leader out there.  Your CEO, brand manager, spokesperson or someone identified with your business.  Then, invite your brand loyalists to join your circles. Let people who are looking for you, find you.
– Follow key players to  see what they are doing and the response they receive.  Warning:  the comments are overwhelming.  It’s like trying to read the Twitter stream of everyone following Lady Gaga.
– Not ready to go external? Try it as your company’s intranet. It won’t let you test your brand per se, but it will give you an opportunity to get comfortable with using circles to reach key audiences. (And your boss will think you’re super smart.)

Brands and the people representing them need a focused strategy for using Google+.  Is it being witty? Garnering huge numbers of followers? Sharing industry-leading thoughts?  Make your plan, and then evaluate how people are engaging with you. If your expectations aren’t being met, you may need to reset them to be more in line with what the channel has to offer.

In the midst of the newness and uncertainly, please remember one thing. Your audiences most likely don’t care to hear about where you’re eating lunch.


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