Want to know what Google+ is and how it will work with mobiles? Want to know how you can use it for marketing? OK – let’s get started.
Google Plus is a new initiative which is being heralded as a competitor to Facebook. Inspite of a Googler and Aaron Wall both inviting me, I am caught in a backlog of SEOs, but luckily one of my team is starting to shine as a rising star in his own right and so I managed to hijack Barrie’s Google Plus login today to have a look at what it looks like through an iPhone.
In fact, Google+ works a bit differently from Facebook and will, I think, appeal to many people because it goes to great lengths to acknowledge that we all wear many different hats and talking at work is not necessarily something that your family or friends from your hobbies wants to hear. Google+, then, is social networking for a multifaceted lifestyle. It doesn't address privacy when it comes to giving all your data to Google... and cleverly uses the privacy argument to great effect in obfuscating that whole debate - but thats' a topic for another day. Right now I have some great tips for using Google+ for marketing from a very early perspective. They need testing - but I have a feeling there is a while new SEO game in town.
OK - down to business.
The "stream" is the initial screen that you see after logging in to plus.google.com from a mobile.
It looks much like a Facebook wall, but you will soon lose any threads off the screen if you have an active life. Barrie only has Marko in his stream right now and after two comments, you are lost. However – note that there is also a “home” button… so at the moment the login starts you NOT at the home page. Well… OK – so let’s go home:
The Home Page
Google+ lets you look at your “stream” ( the initial screenshot) your photos (straight from your device is the intention, but I think that is an android thing, not an iPhone one).
Below these two tags is the most significant one for Marketing purposes. “Circles”. Google Circles are the heart of the system. If you are (like me) a networking kinda guy, then you often want to communicate different ideas to different people at different times. For example, I might put all my Majestic Site Explorer contacts into one “circle” and my Receptional SEO clients into a separate circle. There may be some overlap – but by using a Circle, I can communicate with these groups in isolation.
"Share with" a circle is how you do this. n the share screen, you can just make an announcement to anyone on the web… but what’s the point in that?
You can also talk to everyone in your “following” circle. With so few friends in the system at the moment, it is not clear whether this “following” circle is people that follow you or people you follow. I would assume it is a list of people that follow you – otherwise it would be a recipe for spamming. So this means that you can instantly talk to your entire fan base if you are lucky enough to have one. Speaking to an extended circle looks like it will quickly be the spammer’s route of choice, but in that way I also imagine lies ruin. The surgical marketer will selectively target messages to smaller circles.
Local Marketing with Google+
Google+ looks like a killer local marketing tool.
Where I do see an interesting marketing opportunity is at a local level. I am writing this post from home, not the office. It is in a tiny village, but when I clicked the “nearby” button I found that I could communicate with strangers and found to my surprise that every Google Local listing was already embedded into the screen. Within 100 yards of me, I found several companies – from Murder Mystery Games (my insurance policy for retirement) to the taxi company owner three doors away. Setting up local listings would let you create virtual places that might drag the odd passer by into your world. Imagine a Currys and a PCWorld store next to each other on the high street… which one would you check in at? The one with the most active users I would guess, so paying a kid to engage with shoppers might actually pay off! Let’s face it, the kid could actually be based in Receptional’s offices, monitoring several PC World stores around the country – welcoming shoppers and engaging with them, showing them the special offers and importantly retaining them in the network for future communications. That could be fantastic! If any retailers out there want Receptional to trial this out for them, we have a spare room all Internetted up ready for just such a project.
Retailers would not necessarily even need to wait until a passer by comes into the shop. The "nearb"y button shows a stream of geographically local consciousness. With so few users on the system, my “nearby” stream was in the next town, but as the system grows, that will not be the way. To be able to market at scale, Receptional would maybe need to set up a device at each store participating and VPN into the device form a central location. This would allow the stores to maybe add the occasional new special offer or incentive to enter the store, with Receptional monitoring the systems collectively and keeping the messages going as users pass by.
It could be a brave new world. Does anyone recall that Keanu Reeves film where he has a hard drive in his head? As he walks through a shopping mall, he is getting bombarded with marketing messages. Well here we are and you won’t even need a remarketing cookie to achieve it.