Every year, agencies and consultants that are part of the Google Engage program are invited to an event to be updated on the products that are enabling businesses to engage with customers and stakeholders. We attended this year's event in November along with at least 90 other companies to gain an insight into Google’s plans for 2013 and how these will help brands transform and improve how they engage with audiences. So, why have more than 400 million people upgraded to G+ since launch? Here are five reasons why a G+ strategy can change your business.
1. Build Your Brand’s Social Spine
This is a term coined by Google to describe the unification of all products with an additional social layer. Google+ is the manifestation of this and differentiates itself from other social media platforms that provide a destination of experiences (i.e. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). By linking other products (i.e. analytics, search and ads), Google+ enables a brand to share content through social media endorsement, which enhances search credibility.
2. Improves Experience of Other Google Products
According to research conducted by the G+ team, 58 percent of consumers exposed to a brand through social media then search for that brand via Google search. A trend that substantiates this observation is that posts are gradually replacing pure ads because they provide a more personal, credible and rich experience for customers. An example of a brand combining its G+ presence with search is Cadbury. You can see an example of how posts from its G+ profile appear when a search result is returned. UK newspapers The Sun and Daily Mail have also done the same.
Google+ has a range of features to differentiate it from its counterparts. The Hangout, an interactive live video tool that can be streamed on YouTube, is one of the attributes of the social spine that can be used to host virtual meetings and broadcast them to the world. The Fiat Panda was launched using a hangout, and President Obama’s re-election campaign included it as a strategy.
4. A Mobile Future
As a marketer, you probably have not overlooked the surge in the use of mobile devices. Just in case you have, 44 percent of Americans now have a smart phone, and more than half of the UK’s population owns such a device. According to Google, 57 percent of users will not recommend a poorly designed mobile site, yet many businesses have not designed and optimised their sites for the mobile user. Another figure to bear in mind as we approach 2013 is that 60 percent of Google traffic comes from mobile. Brands have an opportunity to improve reach and engagement by ensuring that content delivered through G+ filters through to multiple devices.
5. Customer Conversion and Retention
Finally, G+’s integration with other Google tools complements a rich user experience with vital analytics to measure the customer journey and ultimately provide a clear path to conversion through data. Segmentation of messages is enhanced through the use of circles, which means you can include a supplier, member of staff or your boss in your social spine, and you can choose how you communicate with each of them. Customer service activity is further enhanced through the use of circles and hangouts, which allow for personalized video interactions.