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Seven ways brands could use Google+ Circles to communicate more effectively

Posted on 13th July 2011 under Article

It’s been around for less than a month and already Google+ is taking is the technosphere and social media PR world by storm. And I think there is good reason for this. I’ve already suggested why I think the service is particularly strong and I have no doubt it will fare better than many of Google’s previous social adventures.

And so, it is only natural that, as a committed technology PR practitioner, I turn my attention to how this new social network could possibly be used further down the line for the technology PR campaigns we run for our clients.

Ushering in Social 2.0

For me, the really interesting element of Google+, which I’m coining social 2.0 is the ability to segment contacts within the network. To have different circles of connections, rather than one big group all treated in the same way. It’s what Twitter hinted at with Lists, but never quite reached the level it has with Google+.

Google’s answer to this social 2.0 trend is a product within Google+ called ‘Circles’. Circles allows you to build different groups or lists of contacts and then restrict the content you share with them as well as filter the information you receive. It’s something that is actually already built into Facebook (a service also called Lists), but on Google+ it forms the central part of the entire network.

This has a clear application in terms of our personal lives – segmenting our colleagues from our friends from our family etc. – but there is clear potential here for the technology PR campaigns we run too.

Technology PR and marketing teams won’t see segmentation as anything new; it is a tried and tested technique for a range of marketing activities. But using it in a social context borders on the revolutionary.

Here’s some of the ways businesses could use this new feature in Google+:

  1. Customer service – Twitter is already being used in a big way to assist with customer service, but Google+ is possibly even more attractive as it allows agents to focus messages at specific people or specific groups of individuals.
  2. Customer communication – wouldn’t it be great to send out messages to only your customers through social channels? With Google+ this could be possible. With Google always keen to push its business services, maybe CRM tie-ups could be forthcoming too.
  3. Rewarding evangelists – many of the social media PR campaigns we run use evangelists or customer VIPs. Google+ gives you the opportunity to segment VIP customers and offer them special rewards or incentives.
  4. Promotions – retail companies frequently segment special offers sent via email depending on what customers have previously purchased. So why couldn’t the same happen on Google+?
  5. Journalist outreach – journalist specific Twitter accounts are nothing new, but it isn’t always ideal to have this information out in the open. Businesses or PR teams could easily create a group of journalists on Google+ and give them access to special – or even embargoed – information.
  6. Have a Circle for your key spokespeople – most businesses will have announcements or content that it wants to distribute more widely. Google+ could make this really easy to achieve by having a Circle made up of your key spokespeople allowing them to receive the information and quickly share it with their own network.
  7. Communicating with employees – it’s not only external communications that could be improved with Google+, companies could have specific Circles set up to communicate with employees.

Google has made it very clear that Google+ as it stands today isn’t intended for businesses and, indeed, it is already shutting down business accounts it finds.

But business services are coming. So while we won’t be running any technology PR campaigns on the network in the near future, I still think there are vast opportunities if the service really does take off.