Google+ is the worst social media for businesses because it fails in crucial issues. After two years of heavy investments in its development, it’s nowhere near the user base of Facebook, or even Twitter, and it’s incapable of providing any data that could justify the investments in building a Google+ community. However, despite its problems Google+ can offer a lot for businesses – if it is utilized correctly.
Google+ has three major flaws
Google knows basically everything – it is able to produce the best data in the world about internet behavior and usage. However, it is unable, or unwilling to, give any insights about the benefits of Google+ pages. The very basic metrics of reach, clicks and CTR of links are nowhere to be found, not to mention the demographics of the community.
And it gets worse. The most important value proposition of Google+ for businesses is the increased CTR of Google AdWords. Google gives generous promises of CTR increases of up to 20% after the introduction of social extensions, yet the minute this function is enabled, Google takes away the possibility to do any comparison to the previous situation. At best, you can estimate whether or not the CTR has improved, but the magnitude of change is left solely up to speculation. In short, the world’s best data producer is incapable of providing data for its customers.
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Secondly, Hangouts that enable multi-person videoconferencing would have the potential to revolutionize the interaction between brands and consumers. However, due to technical limitations and poor reliability, they are not good for more than toying around in their standard form. Customizable Hangout extensions are often too expensive for easy use, but are only suitable as part of bigger marketing campaigns.
The last straw is Google’s habit of making Google+ design updates that occur overnight without any warning, even though they can dramatically change the outlook of a brand page. For an individual user this is indifferent, but for a business fostering its brand identity, these changes cause a lot of extra heartbeats. Of course, some of these changes are communicated via developer blogs, partner Google+ pages or whatever, but locating these hints in time is a next-to-impossible task – if the information even exists, that is.
Google+ is poor, but you can still benefit from it
After accepting that Google+ is far from perfect, you can start planning how to take advantage from it. Courage to be present in a new channel doesn’t hurt any brand; brands can even reach those opinion leaders and early adopters otherwise outside of their communities.
Integrating Google+ and YouTube as part of (often Facebook-led) social media strategy is not as expensive as one could imagine. And even though Hangouts are in their infancy, businesses can still use them as stepping stone for more open and direct customer communication. Whether or not the customers are yet prepared for this, pursuing open communication is only amplified as competitors continue with traditional, one-way marketing messages filtered trough communications agencies.
Finally, while Google is developing its first analysis tools for Google+, businesses can conduct A-B –tests to show the benefits of Google+ presence to that one soon-to-be-retiring, social media opposing marketing director.
Is your business in Google+? Why not? Let us know in the comments below.