Google+ for Business?

It’s been exactly one month since Google+ burst on to the scene as “an extension of Google itself”. As appose to merely a response to Facebook, Google has gone out of its way to make sure it grabs as big a slice as possible of that social networking pie. Having had Google Wave and Google Buzz fail in the past, this time at least, Google seem to be doing something right.

 

Already the fastest-growing social network in history having acquired more than 20 million users so far; now seems a good time to look at what may lie ahead.

Google+ is a solid product, but that’s to be expected from this company. The real challenge is attracting the mainstream users beyond early adopters, and one of the potential factors affecting this is how Google+ interacts with businesses.

There’s no denying Google is big on business. They have Apps for business, blogs for business, as well as countless services and tools such as Analytics, Website Optimiser and AdSense. Although in these past four weeks, Google seem to be actively discouraging businesses from creating profiles.  Product Manager Christian Oestlien tried to justify this with a short statement,

“The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses. We just ask for your patience while we build it. In the meantime, we are discouraging businesses from using regular profiles to connect with Google+ users. Our policy team will actively work with profile owners to shut down non-user profiles.”

There are two questions here:

1)      Why on earth did Google+ not have this in place before launch?

2)      Where exactly will Google+ fit in the existing ‘social networking for businesses’ map?

The first question is almost impossible to answer. We only know that since a barrage of criticism regarding their inconsistent approach on this topic, the search giant has since vowed to accelerate the launch of Google+ business profiles.

The second question is the more interesting. With LinkedIn accounting for many of Powwownow’s new leads, we can 100% understand the benefit and theory behind businesses using such a site. Twitter also has a very clear and consistent role, primarily within customer service. On the other hand, Facebook is a little harder to wrestle with- the business advantage centring more around being able to engage with a captive audience, and therefore (hopefully) increasing customer loyalty. The three together cover all the bases – and so what for Google+?

Well, if you must know, things are shaping up quite nicely. There are a number of features in the pipeline that will give Google+ it’s very own set of USP’s. Below are just five;

1) Google Meeting: Just like there are hangouts for personal pages, Google Meeting will allow you to videoconference with up to 10 colleagues. This will allow you to have staff meeting with multiples office. You could also use it for presentations to clients or prospective clients. This would be integrated with Google Calendar and Gmail, making the invitation process a snap.

2) Google Screencast: Google Screencast will allow you to record the computer screen output and to share it with others so that participants can show or demonstrate things on their computer. This combined with Google Meeting will give you the functionality of GoToMeeting.

3)Google Whiteboard: Leveraging Google Docs, you will be able to pull up documents during a meeting and collaborate on them. These edits can be done by multiple people, all in real time, for true collaborations. Recaps of the meeting can then be sent out over Gmail or posted to Google for viewing.

4) Google Picasa and YouTube: Google Picasa (soon to be renamed Google Photos and YouTube allow you to seamlessly integrate media into your business. Whether it be for customer presentations or internal use, all media that is associated with your company on those two platforms will be available to anyone you choose to expose it to over Google Plus. With the use of Google Plus’s Circles feature, you can choose how much to share and with whom.

5) Market Segmentation: One of the chief differences between Google Plus and Facebook is the introduction of what Google Plus calls circles. Circles allow you to segment your friend into different groups, and then communicate with just those folks. Facebook has lists, but that only affects privacy settings. It can turn someone on or off in terms of being able to see your posts, but there is no way to selectively post different items to different groups.

How many of you are already using Google+? And to those who aren’t, would features like this be enough to make you sign up?

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