The role of social networks in business is nothing new but when Google+ came on the scene, I know what you were thinking. The same thing I was: Another social platform?
Like any good marketer, we at CenturyLink Business, created a presence on Google + right away but really only to secure our name. We have not created a full-blown presence at this point because, frankly, we have been going back and forth internally on the value of the platform in our space.
So why are we talking about this now? Well, the recent news about the social enhancements to Google search got me thinking: Is it really just another social platform? Or could it be more to companies in the B2B market?
Depending on who you ask, Google+ is either a Facebook-killer, a social media also-ran, or an entirely new breed of social networking platform. For B2B companies considering whether to take the plunge, the question that matters most is: does using Google+ for B2B deliver unique value beyond the existing players? While Google+ has many similarities to established social networks, closer examination reveals added benefits for marketing.
Google+ for Marketing
In our view, social networks can be especially valuable for B2B companies, who typically need to build, maintain, and cultivate customer relationships over the course of a long sales cycle. With this perspective, Google+ for B2B offers two key advantages:
- Ties to search: This puts Google+ in an ideal position to address the increasingly social nature of search. Google searches now return both generic search results and comments from a user’s own Google+ network. This helps them leverage the knowledge and expertise of their colleagues more effectively, from product endorsements to technical advice.
- Google+ circles: Circles provide an easy way to configure specific groups of contacts (customers, leads, partners, etc.) and provide specific content tailored to that group. For example, you could create a circle for your customer advisory board and use that as a way to share exclusive information. In addition, circles can be integrated into Gmail, extending their value beyond Google+ to support email-based communications. This provides the granularity and control to manage multiple communications to multiple audiences (often needed in the complex B2B market).
While there are positives, it’s not clear if there are enough to consider a wholesale transition to Google+. As the social network battle continues, it’s also likely that many of the unique strengths of Google+ will begin to be replicated on the platforms you already use. There are also legal and security implications to consider.
Ultimately, it will all come down to the ties to search. We’ll keep you posted on where we landed with Google+ and will take a deeper dive into the search benefits.
Have you put Google+ to work in your business? What value have you seen?