Wait and see.
Bide your time.
These characterize the advice pretty much everybody is giving about using Google+ for business or marketing. It’s so new, they say, and, importantly, Google hasn’t even launched business pages yet.
In the meantime, I’ve been marketing my business pretty regularly on Google+. You should, too. There are two big reasons why:
At last count, 25 million people had signed onto Google+.
That makes Google+ the fastest growing website in history, according to ComScore:
Considering that the vast majority of these people fit the early-adopter profile, you’d be nuts to ignore the opportunity to reach out based on what we know about marketing to early adopters. But how do we engage with these people in the absence of business pages?
That is the oddest question, since it comes from many of the same people, by and large, who insist that social media is all about relationships and engagement. Do we really need business pages to engage with people on behalf of our companies and clients?
Google+ offers easier ways for people to engage with people.
Of course, having your employees participate in conversational marketing and PR requires companies to not only allow
employees to engage. Given that permission, employees can build Circles for targeted groups of customers, suppliers, partners, prospects, and even other employees.
That’s the experiment I’ve been running. Among my clients are categories of companies. I do work with multiple hospitals and hospital networks, for example, as well as utilities. So, I’ve created a Circle that contains people with whom I’ve worked in hospitals. It’s an intimate group now as I wait for more of these folks to join the Google+ ranks (if they ever do).
I’ve also set up several Sparks related to hospital and healthcare marketing, both traditional and social. Sparks are like RSS feeds, pulling in items Google’s algorithm determines are a match for your key words. You can’t sort Sparks by date or relevance—at least not yet.
But each item is easily shared with a Circle. So, when I find an item I think folks in the hospital communication world would like, I share it with that Circle. It’s a form of content curation, which makes it a form of content marketing.
It takes a minute or two each day to check my Sparks to see if there’s anything worth sharing. And I remind my current and former clients that I’m out there, staying on top of trends and news that matters to them.
Any employee can participate in this form of content marketing. Whatever job someone may have, great new content appears all the time and there are customers—in the broadest sense of the term—who would appreciate learning about it.
This is easy. It’s low-risk. (Hell, it’s no
risk.) And, frankly, I’m skeptical about brand pages, since research indicates most people connect with Facebook’s version only to learn about coupons, discounts, and special offers. Sure, there are some iconic brands with which people want relationships (Mustang, for instance, or Red Bull.) But most people don’t want relationships with most brands.
Brand/business pages, of course, could be huge. The fact is that we just haven’t yet seen what Google will do. It could be an imitation of Facebook pages or something so completely new and compelling that it represents untapped opportunity.
But even if Google’s brand pages change everything (and really, nothing changes everything), relationships with people still makes much more sense, and your company is loaded
with people. All you have to do is activate them.
Dell is among the companies that have demonstrated the value of injecting real live human beings into social networks to connect with customers. Don’t listen to the chorus that insists you should wait until Google+ matures and brand pages are available. Start building those business- and marketing-focused relationships now. The ease of doing so is one of the things Google+ seems to have going for it.
I can’t come up with a single reason to wait.
Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology. A version of this story originally appeared on his blog.