In a world where electronic marketing channels are multiplying at such a rapid rate, marketers may be tempted to focus on the major ones and ignore those that have not achieved critical mass. One channel that many marketers are still treating with scepticism is Google+, the latest social media play from search giant Google.
Why should marketers even bother investing the effort in creating and maintaining a Google+ brand page, given Google’s patchy track record in social and the lack of verified data about the size of Google+’s user base? The glib answer is that one should probably never count out a giant like Google when it has clearly set its heart on becoming a force to be reckoned with in a new market.
Google’s latest move is the integration of Google+ into its natural search results with the service Search Plus Your World. The service, featuring natural search listings alongside photos and posts from individual or brand Google+ Circles and Picasa accounts, is already live on google.com for logged-in users and has already sparked outrage and surprise in the market.
The Google + user base – estimated to be between 49 million 150 million strong depending on whose stats you believe – will more than likely grow at an exponential rate, to a point that it becomes so large that no one can afford to ignore it. After all, nearly every user on the Internet already has a Google account, whether it is used for Gmail, YouTube, or personalised search. Paul B. Allen – who calls himself Google’s unofficial statistician – reckons that 625,000 people sign up for Google+ every day and believes the service could reach 400 million users by the end of this year.
But perhaps even more importantly than the raw user numbers is the fact that Google has the power and the will to align its social networking services with other Internet services in ways that could provide a range of powerful benefits to marketers. Social looks set to become an integral part of the Google experience, starting with the search engine that has made it the most powerful company on the Internet.
Already, we are starting to see signs that Google will look to integrate more and more Google+ brand page information in search results. The upshot is that brands that carefully cultivate their Google+ presence could enjoy a boost to their natural search results if they update content regularly and entice Google+ users to share it through the +1 mechanism.
That means engaged followers on your Google+ homepage could be even more valuable for your brand than Facebook fans or Twitter followers because their +1s for your content could give your search results a boost.
This is a massive benefit. Organic search engine optimisation and paid search used to be easy ways to capture online audiences in the early days. With Google+ being the new SEO there is a massive opportunity for marketers to secure first-mover advantage on Google+.
They’ll build a strong position in an emerging channel that will eventually become massively important both in its own right and as part of a multichannel strategy spanning web, email, TV, video, search and social across Google’s powerful platform.