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Saturday, 12th November 2011 at 5:14am
To understand what it is all about and how it is going to work The Think Tank has been looking at Google+ Pages and testing out their viability for network and social marketing. The system is certainly in its infancy and we assume that many features are to be added however below we summarise some of the pros and cons we have found so far:
1. Simple to Set Up
Google+ Pages are quick and easy to set up but somewhat limited at present in certain areas which we cover below.
2. Circles of Influence
Google+ is based upon creating a network of contacts which you add to 'Circles'. These can be friends, colleagues, clients, acquaintances, media or any other category that you wish to create. The great thing is that you can select who to share your content with so that if you only want to share with one or many of your circles you can or you alternatively you can share publicly.
This is great for sharing with customers, staff or specific groups that you may be marketing to and engaging with. It is simple and quick to add to your circles when searching within the network.
This organisation of contacts is a significant benefit over Facebook and offers many opportunities to businesses looking to engage with a range of stakeholders.
3. Tracking your Impact
If shared publicly you can see biogs of those that share and add them to your circles. You can also view other stats including influencers, chain lengths and languages.
4. Spreading the Word
Sharing content is simple, fast and not limited by the number of characters, as far as we can tell. You can add images, video, links, locations and graphics such as animated gifs that can certainly enhance your message.
These can be shared publically or just to the circles that you choose.
5. Get Face to Face
A very useful tool is the 'Hangout'. This is simple video conferencing between your circles.
Hangouts can be created quickly and you can invite those in your circles, individually or in groups to join in a video conference as long as they are online.
This is going to be a great tool for getting face to face with contacts and just think of the opportunities it offers in marketing terms.
6. Google+ Direct
This is an added function that will allow those using Google to add the + sign after a search term, taking users directly to the Google+ page for the brand they are looking for.
Apparently this is going to be based upon 'algorithms' so we will have to wait and see what is required for your page to start to work with Google+ Direct.
Now for some of the not so great bits:
The 'Negative' Bits
1. Limited Function
The integration of Google+ does not seem to be quite there when compared to Facebook and other platforms. We are sure that this functionality will come however at the moment there are certain areas that are lacking.
2. Set Up
You would expect Google+ to link and import directly from your YouTube and Picasa streams for video and images but at present you have to load all of your content individually, one image or video at a time. It would be much more useful if you could link to your YouTube channel and pull across your videos.
Profiles are also limited in content that you can add and link to and offer minimal functionality and flexibility.
3. Monitoring, Moderating and Notifications
There is little functionality for the above at present. Firstly you cannot restrict people posting comments on your public posts and secondly there is no email notification to warn you that they have done so. This means that you have to constantly check online to ensure that your stream is not being attacked or having a negative impact. Privacy settings are very limited.
4. Building your Circles
There is limited integration with email clients at present. For example, if you want to add your Outlook contacts to your circles you have to firstly export them to a .csv file and then upload into Google+. Inviting these individuals to join your circles is equally laborious. Oh, and by the way, there is currently no way of inviting people to join your page, as far as we could see, only for an individual's profile.
5. Monitoring Activity
There currently appears to be a couple of glitches with viewing Circles and those that add your page. When in Circles you can select to see all your contact or those that have 'Added' you however when you select to filter it does not work, you are left with the same list of all contacts.
Also, as far as we can see you can be notified by email if someone interacts with your personal page however notifications are not sent for people interacting with your company page - you have to keep checking back to see if there is any activity.
6. Showing your Circles
Finally, and really only of interest to those starting out, you can decide to show or not show your circles publically. This is great when you are starting out and only have a few followers as you do not want the world to know that you are not that popular. However, the downside is that if you decide to hide your circles your profile tells the world that you have '0' people in your circles - GREAT!
We are sure that this is just a first stage in the introduction of Pages in Google+ and that in due course many of the points above will be addressed. It is going to be interesting to see whether Google can challenge Facebook and whether those that are comfortable with Facebook will want to switch over and start building their networks again. What Google has in its favour is its reach and influence online. We wait with baited breath.
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