Tired of hearing about the ongoing struggle to knock Facebook off the top of the social media pile? Get used to it. This hot topic isn’t going away anytime soon.
So what’s the word on Google, a company that can seemingly do no wrong? Social media spin-off Google Buzz may have been their first true failure, but we think they’ve made a better go at it the second time around with Google+. The invite-only beta version already has millions of members, and unlike Buzz, it also has at least one ingenious twist that will help it stand out from the crowd.
Google+ has all the basics down, from news feeds to big-name games (FarmVille addicts will have to stick to Facebook, but Angry Birds has made the jump), but its big differentiator is the “circle” concept. It works like this: every person who accepts you as a “friend” on Google+ may be added to any number of the “circles” that you create. Standard circles are friends, family, acquaintances, and business contacts, and herein lies the Google+ advantage: users can easily separate their personal and professional activities without starting different accounts for each.
We’ve all heard horror stories about embarrassing Facebook posts and photos filtering into users’ professional lives. Google+ makes it much easier to segment your social media activity without the added burden of Facebook’s constantly changing privacy settings.
Not only can you post LOLcats to your heart’s delight without annoying co-workers, prospects and clients, but you can also create new circles to place contacts into various categories like, say, “strong leads,” “top prospects” and “current clients.” Once you’ve arranged this complex web, you can target every social media campaign to one or more of these groups, thereby increasing the value of each individual message. If social media is truly the marketing venue of the future, then these circles will prove invaluable for anyone looking to run a multi-tiered promotional campaign.
Google+ is not yet available for businesses, and the company has even gone so far as to delete fledgling company pages. But, based on Google’s most recent video response, the official release of Google+ business should be an event worth watching. Google+ will not compete with Facebook in terms of total users or overall influence any time soon, but we urge you to have patience. Remember that the gradual roll-out strategy worked very well for Facebook (the site was originally available only to members with .edu addresses, and The Zuck himself once doubted whether the company could successfully expand beyond its college student base).
Google+ will inevitably make mistakes and encounter some backlash – Facebook certainly has. But we have every reason to believe that this latest offering will soon be yet another powerful tool to help companies expand their brands online.