While Google+ continues to take its knocks for being the less-frequented version of Facebook, new Google+ features for businesses could earn it a little more respect (and visits). Facebook may still be killing Google+ in the social networking department, but Google+ can offer online retailers something that Facebook can’t: a direct connection to the biggest search engine currently in existence. Here are a few reasons why Google+ for businesses can’t be ignored.
If this website is any indication, Liking is still more prevalent than +1’ing, but for businesses with a presence on both Google+ and Facebook the +1 button may yet yield better customer acquisition effects. The most obvious benefit for online businesses is the integration of +1 into Google’s search engine, which essentially serves to bolster your business’ organic search results with virtual word of mouth recommendations.
Of course, the relative success of this hinges on both a) a customer +1’ing your page, store or product and b) someone in that customer’s Google+ Circles searching on a particular keyword or term that pulls up your business in the results. Nonetheless, this kind of targeted result holds more promise than a Like, which can get lost or deleted from a Facebook newsfeed or which may not generate enough interest for a clickthrough. An added bonus for Google+ business users who use Adwords: advertisers can also integrate the +1 button into their display ads.
Offering an unTwitter-like lack of a character limit, Google+ Stream allows business users to publish all manners of updates and news in one handy location, whether posting a product photo, pithy offhand comment or extended blog-type entry. While your Stream shouldn’t function as a fountain of oversharing, it could easily become your business’ main hub of information. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could even use Google+ Circles to segment your customer and vendor lists and control who gets which marketing message.
Get out of the Slanket and put on the tuxedo t-shirt – Google+ Hangoutsallows businesses to live video chat with customers and other users in their Circles via their Google+ page. Not only does this give your business an opportunity to personalize the online shopping experience, but it could prove helpful for customer service issues that require a visual explanation (like what am I supposed to wear these with?). Online businesses are already getting creative with Hangouts and using them to host virtual events, make announcements and broadcast podcasts and informational sessions.
Google+ has everything that you’ve come to expect from the privacy eschewing Analytics overlords, with much more in the works. Social reports on Analytics provide tangible figures on your site’s +1’s, and Ripples gives you a visual representation of how and through whom your Google+ posts spread. Features currently being rolled out include information about Google+ business page interactions, user demographics and user social activity.