Google+ is in many ways the new kid on the block. Whilst it can be seen to be lagging behind Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and the rest of the gang, this has given the developers time to really think through its features and their impact on the way its members use the web. Google+ goes beyond the realms of other platforms and applies social aspects across all of Google’s products: Gmail, search, Analytics….changing the online experience for the over 250 million Google+ users.
It’s impossible to fit all of the features of Google+ in one blog. Today, we’ll be looking at how Google+ allows you to create groups of people you follow, called circles, and hone content to these circles.
The ability to categorise the people you follow isn’t new. Facebook has a lists feature where you can group people who are connected or share a common interest by selecting a list when posting and to filter what you see on your news feed. However, Facebook’s predominantly personal use means that these target audiences aren’t always very useful for b2b PR.
With Twitter, you can organise the people you are following into lists but you can’t send information exclusively to them. You are able to tailor content for a particular audience and categorise it using hashtags but you cannot determine what people are actually able to see. LinkedIn is similar in that your (or your company’s) followers see all of your updates, but the platform supports a wealth of specialist groups with which you share worthy niche content. People have voluntarily joined these groups and therefore categorised themselves into that audience.
The difference with Google+ is that you are in control. You can categorise and sort people into circles any way you like: through location, sector, profession etc. You can share information with groups that you have created so you know that they are your exact target audience and what you are sending them is tailored for them.
This is incredibly useful for companies who want to share stories or company updates with a specific target audience. Take an industrial company that has customers in the oil and gas, power and chemical industries. One product range might only be relevant to the oil and gas sector and therefore they would only want to tell that sector about it. Even if they have a new product that is relevant to all of their customers’ sectors, it might have different applications in each sector and therefore the company would want tailor information on the product to each sector. The ability to tailor the information allows for much more targeted (and more effective) marketing of this product and of the company as a whole. It makes their customers feel valued by giving them relevant information and preventing spam and clogged home feeds, and it therefore increases the likelihood of the customer to buy that product.
You can find a helpful analogy in broadcast: If you see tweeting as the radio spectrum with a cacophony of (exciting) channels broadcasting information, and Linkedin as broadcasting on a particular frequency (with groups), then posting content to your Google+ circles is like broadcasting on a walkie talkie – you know exactly who is listening.
A final word – and something that I am sure is on many a mind by now! We are only looking at the possibilities of Google+ and it’s clever circles. As with any social platform, before starting a campaign it’s important to ask yourself if your target audience is (a) signed up to Google+ and (b) actively using it. If not, then you may be broadcasting in a very targeted way to people who are simply not listening.
There are, however a number of other ways that Google+ can be employed to the benefit of b2b – even industrial PR – and we will be touching upon these in future blogs. You can subscribe to our blog updates by RSS or email to make sure you don’t miss the next bcm blog on Google+ and its influence on word-of-mouth marketing and tailored searches.