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What does Google+ mean for PR?

Posted on 4th October 2011 under Social

The simple answer to this is, at the moment, not very much. Why? Well, Google+ is still an emerging network. It has only just moved out of beta and business accounts haven’t even been launched (though probably will be soon).

Having said that, I firmly believe that Google+ has the potential to revolutionise the social web and that would have a massive impact on how PR professionals handle online strategies and campaigns.

Part of this is to do with scale. Whichever way you look at it, marketing remains a numbers game: a balance of quality and quantity. You need to ensure you reach the right number of the right people to make sure a campaign has justifiable ROI. The truth is that, for most companies, Google+ just doesn’t have the audience to make it effective for most brands.

The power of Google

But this could change very quickly. The influence of the Google behemoth on our every day lives is clear for all to see. And an example of how this power could translate to Google+ came last week when Google started rolling out a little blue arrow animation on search pages, encouraging users to sign up to Google+. That suggests to me that Google is about to get pretty aggressive in its quest to increase the number of people using the network.

An increasing number of website publishers are rolling out +1 buttons on their sites and these little outposts are also now visible in every Google web search.

Google has been after a foothold in the social space for some time and, despite the failures of Wave and Buzz, Google+ seems to be succeeding where these others failed. And with new leadership in place, Google seems to have more focus and more determination to succeed where it has failed in the past.

Blending search and social

Forwarding looking tech PR agencies are already paying attention to the role of search and SEO to help protect the reputations of clients at this key touch point and, with Google+, we will increasingly see the intersection of search and social.

Google has been a sleeping giant when it comes to social. But if it gets it right, it has the potential to act as the social fabric of the web (something that Facebook is also eyeing up).

Protecting reputation

I’ve criticised the delay in rolling out branded accounts on Google+ as it has caused confusion, but if you believe the noises coming out of the Googleplex, the delay is because Google wants to make sure it gets branded accounts right before rolling them out. Google understands the importance of brands and is building a place for them on the network from the ground up. This is in stark contrast to Twitter and Facebook, whose business features have often played second fiddle and have been piecemeal, lacking strategic direction.

Google is showing maturity in the way it handles other feature changes too. It is listening to its users and is innovating based on feedback; something Facebook could learn from.

It remains to be seen how Google will ‘allow’ brands to use Google+ from a promotional standpoint and whether social search will really usher in a new era for marketers keen to build online awareness. But, while you might not want to pile in for your clients or brands at the moment, you’ll certainly want to keep an eye on developments and start trying out the service for yourself on a personal level. Connect with me here and let’s continue the debate!