Google+ brand pages have been available for almost two months. You may be considering getting your company on board or wondering whether it’s going to be another failed attempt at social media by Google (remember Google Wave and Goolge Buzz? No? Don’t feel bad-you’re not alone). Your immediate reaction may be “isn’t this just another Facebook?” While there is some truth to that, as they have many similar features, Google has found some areas that can outshine Facebook — for the moment anyway. Adding another social network might be the last thing on your mind right now, but whether or not you are thinking of creating a company page, it is important to at least spend some time browsing around Google+ to become familiar with its features. It is better to be prepared to make the switch if needed rather than starting from scratch.
You can bet Facebook is paying attention and ready to implement changes in order to avoid the right hook they gave Myspace upon entering the scene. Still it’s my opinion that Google+ could become a big threat to Facebook. To be clear, I am not suggesting that Google+ is the answer and you should abandon Facebook. After all, for your business page to do well on Google+ you need your fans to be there and chances are, they are not there yet, at least not in force.
So if your fans aren’t there yet why should you worry about it? It is simple: they will most likely be there at some point.
Entering into public in Septemeber 2011, Google+ already had 62 million users by December 30, 2011. According to Paul Allen, founder of FamilyLink.com and Ancestry.com, Google+ could reach 400 million users by the end of 2012.”Based on the accelerated growth I’m seeing and all the dials and levers Google can still utilize, as well as the the developer ecosystem that will be developed, I predict that 2012 is going to be a breakout year for Google+ and that it will end next year with more than 400 million users,” he said. (Facebook currently sits at around 800 million users).
One of the key competitive advantages for Google+ is the ability to organize your friends into circles and choose what content is served to what circles. This feature is also available for business pages, which can prove to be very handy if you have fans in different market segments, allowing you to tailor messages and send them only to those it applies to with a simple click of the mouse. This could help keep people around longer as you are not feeding them information they do not care about. (It should be noted Facebook also allows you to organize your personal friends into different lists and filter content, but tends to be more cumbersome.)
But the biggest threat and the main reason I suggest you keep a very close on Google+ is this: Google is the number one site on the Internet, with over 1 billion users and it has integrated Google+ into its search engine. And with Goolge+ Direct Connect searchers need only enter a “+” before their search and jump right to that business’ Goolge+ page. (As of the writing of this post Google+ Direct Connect isn’t available for every Goolge+ page, but is ever expanding).
For now, it appears Facebook will retain its title as the number one social network. However, with its broad spectrum of tools and services that are fundamental to our online lives, Google will be able to promote its social network and brand pages in ways Facebook currently cannot. If played right, this could be Google’s knockout punch. Time will tell. After all, there are 12 rounds in a heavyweight bout.
Have you made the switch and signed up for an account on Google+? Do you think Google+ has what it takes to reign supreme or will it be another social network Google puts out to pasture?