Could Google+ be the next big thing for brands?

When launched, users didn’t greet Google+ with high expectations and optimistic predictions of the future. However it has grown to become the second biggest social network in just three years.

Though it’s not likely that it will dethrone Facebook anytime soon, more brands are starting to use Google+ pages to reach out to their audiences. While Facebook is changing the rules of the game, Google + pages are quietly growing and with over 540 million active users, this network actually generates a whole lot of brand engagement. And what exactly does Google+ have to offer?

Targeted communication

Circles enables Google+ users to organize people into groups, making it easier for brands to target specific audiences. This is a great feature especially for those who want to talk to more complex audiences with different interests and needs. Another big advantage that Facebook pages don’t have is that Google+ allows you to send direct messages to individuals, making it easier to connect with them.

Circles also helps you control the streams and makes it easier to follow up with updates for specific audiences. You can check what your customers are talking about, see what influencers want to know, and catch up on the latest news on particular topics. Circles makes it really easy to control your content stream.

Another big advantage is communities that allow brands to get insights into specific discussions and challenges and join their conversation. Since monitoring and listening is a part of any smart social media strategy, this is a great way to connect to people that are interested in the same kind of topics and challenges.

Hashtags are a great way to make it easier for people to find your content and Google+ took them a step further with its automatic hashtag recognition and assignment. This means if you don’t assign any hashtags, Google+ will recognize words based on your text and do it for you.

Credibility

Although John Mueller announced that Google recently ended its three-year experiment with Google Authorship displaying photos next to search results, Mark Traphagen pointed out that Google Authorship is here to stay. “Google Authorship continues. Qualifying authors will still get a byline on search results, so Google hasn’t abandoned it.” So authors names still appear in search results, only without a photo. This means there’s more chances that people will discover your Google+ profile.

Every +1 on your page increases your credibility as an author, which is a great way to separate trustworthy content from self-promoting brands that use social media as broadcast channels.

Your friends and connections will be able to see your Google+ posts when related to their search results. This might open new possibilities for a Google+ Authorship instead.

Digital events

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Google+ hangouts are free video calls for up to 10 people who can share documents and screens with the help of other apps.

What is great about hangouts is that they make it easy for anyone to host an online event and invite others to join the conversation, whether it is a meeting with your audience, a short training or a chat to share best practices.

Hangouts on air turn your YouTube channel into a live broadcast tool and because of its integration with Google, all YouTube videos you upload can be automatically added to your YouTube and Google+ account.

The future of Google+ might not be entirely clear after it’s “father” Vic Gundotra announced he’s leaving Google. It didn’t help that TechCrunch  labeled the platform as “walking dead.” And it’s unclear whether Google wants to position Google+ as a platform or a product. One thing is certain though – Google+ is bringing added value for brands and is slowly becoming a tool you can no longer ignore.

Disagree? Share your thoughts with us in comments and let’s discuss!

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