Google+: Past, Present … Future?

November 14th, 2011

by Marcus Snyder

On June 28, 2011 Google rolled out their own social media platform called Google+. The demand, excitement and potential for this new service was HUGE.

10 million users joined within the first two weeks. In October, the number of unique users grew to over 40 million. This pales in comparison to Facebook’s 800 million active users, but then again, they’ve got seven years and mainland China on their side.

For a couple of months, users added their friends, lumped them into circles and then sat back waiting for something magical to happen. It didn’t take long for interest to wane and people began to go back to their old haunts, Facebook and Twitter. Google+ was quickly becoming a social graveyard.

It wasn’t until 132 days after their initial launch (but, who’s counting, right?) that they allowed businesses to register their pages. I had hopes that this would act as a social defibrillator and would get people re-engaged with the platform. Google+ had a real chance with this one … until it fell on its face.

So, what happened? Here’s a couple of things about the new business pages that disappointed me:

No multi-user support. To borrow Facebook’s terminology, only one person is allowed to ‘admin’ a page. This means that a business will have to select a single person to create and maintain the page or they will have to create a new account that will be shared amongst their social media marketers. If your business goes with the first option, know that the page cannot be transferred (see also: if that one employee leaves the company for whatever reason, you’ve also lost your page).

No vanity URLs. Right now our URL looks like https://plus.google.com/u/0/112902429086367330249. It’s not very sexy and it’s definitely not very marketable. Of course, you could use a service like http://gplus.to/ to create something presentable (for example, we’ve created http://gplus.to/southcentralmedia), but this should be built into the platform itself.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Google+, though.

The most important feature (I think, anyway) is circles. Fortunately, these are also available in business pages and they could be a game-changer in your online marketing strategy. Unlike Facebook, Google+ allows you to sort of act like a person. You’re able to follow people, you’re able to put people, or customers, into different circles depending on your marketing strategy (group your followers by location or product-type, whatever makes sense for your business) and from there you can send each circle a targeted message.

Is this single feature enough to significantly shift your businesses social media strategy, though? Maybe.

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