5 Reasons Why Companies Shouldn't Dismiss Google Plus
"I'm on Google+ but I don't know what to do with it."
"I'm not sure why we need to spend time on this when our audience isn't on here."
"Why should we dilute our social presence when we have Twitter and Facebook?"
It all sounds awfully familiar. That's because it's the same thing we heard when Twitter got started, and a little bit with Facebook before that. Come to think of it -- it's the same skepticism expressed about social media in general three or four years ago.
It's worth it, then, recalling the thought process and reasoning behind why we've all decided to adopt social media, Twitter and Facebook in particular. In my humble opinion, these reasons very much apply to Google+ as well, and why companies shouldn't be too quick to dismiss it.
Reason #1: People Are Talking About You On Google+
Go to plus.google.com and enter your company name in the search box at the top. You don't need to be logged in or have a Google+ account. If you see results, that means people are talking about you. Wouldn't you like to engage them, especially if they are a partner, customer or prospect?
You can't if you're not on Google+. I believe it is just a matter of time before Google incorporates Google+ discussions into its main Web search engine results pages. Then what people are saying about your company will be there for prospects to see when searching for products or services to buy.
Don't you want to be ready?
Reason #2: Google Is Putting Considerable Resources Behind Google+
Google is killing products left and right and revamping its most popular, core products to integrate with Google+, including Web search, Gmail, YouTube and AdWords. It is doing this to protect its cash cow from the social threat (i.e. Facebook). Sure it's tried and failed several times at social, but it'll keep at it until it achieves its vision:
"Our ultimate vision for Google+ is to transform the overall Google experience-- weaving identity and sharing into all of our products."
If you're logged in to Google+, here's how your core search results might look.
Note the picture under the result and the information to the right of it. This makes the result much more relevant to me because I know who wrote it and how many people follow him on Google+. I'm much more likely to click on that result knowing that, but I'm also able to follow Dan and endorse the blog post by clicking the +1 button right there. This will increase the velocity of connections.
Imagine if this is a buyer searching for a product or service. If they see that someone they are connected to +1'd the page, that will increase the chance that they'll land on your website and enter your lead funnel. Or if it's a blog post you've written and they see your picture and name underneath, that will increase traffic to your blog and your opportunity to make connections and engage online.
UPDATE 12/5: Brafton News is reporting that Google+ pages are now included on page one of search engine results pages for brand searches. Customers and prospects that search on brands now can follow these brands right from search.
Image Credit: Brafton News
Reason #3: Chances Are Media and Bloggers That Matter to You Are Actively Using Google+
This is another aspect that parallels with Twitter. Tech media and bloggers have been among the strongest early adopters and the amount of time they spend using Google+ to engage with their readers, express their opinions and find sources is huge.
As PR people, it's a great way to stay connected with media and bloggers as part of relationship-building (as long as it's done the right way). But it's also a great opportunity for company thought-leaders to engage directly with influencers, offer industry insights that might help them source stories or reports and respond to their opinions.
In particular, the Circles feature of Google+ makes is very easy to follow different groups of influencers.
Because it's Google, the people search capabilities are much more robust than other social networks (except perhaps LinkedIn). This coupled with the richness of the Google profiles means that it is very easy to find a relevant audience, tag them in posts and follow them with Circles (pages can only add people who have added them first).
This makes it possible to listen to what their needs might be and offer the right kind of information that is going to help them solve their problems.
Reason #5: Don't Let Your Competitors Beat You to The Punch
This goes back to reason #1. If customers, partners or prospects are talking about you, those folks are ones that your competitors can engage as well. Similarly, if prospects are asking questions that might suggest they have a need for your product or service, competitors also have any opportunity to take advantage and engage them.
For the same reason that companies and experts join Twitter and LinkedIn Groups or Answers -- to build trusted relationship with customers, partners and prospects -- Google+ presents the same opportunity. Your competitors could be engaging with them right under your nose.
If you are skeptical about Google+, I'd love to know why.