Google+ Beta has launched to mixed reviews, some believing it will take on Facebook, others wondering what all the fuss is about! From what we have seen of it so far, this is Google’s most rounded approach to Social Media and it does a good job of pulling together the social technology that Google always had, or had recently launched. Early commentary is very favourable around the user interface and this could well be critical.
We’d speculate that, at least for the time being, Google will not allow brands to develop a significant presence, and possibly restrict ads and commercial activity. Where they have a significant advantage over Facebook is that the monetisation of social interactions could take place off the Google+ social pages. They could use the data from their new network to guide better targeted search and ad inventory via Adwords and the Google Display Network. Facebook obviously have no option but to serve inventory on users social pages.
So Google’s big play could be to focus on community development in a significantly ad-free environment, and this means for the time being, it probably won’t have a significant impact on marketers, although naturally we’ll be keep an eye on future developments.
In terms of Search (PPC and SEO Value) the +1 button (launched earlier in the year) integrates well and does hold some significance. We are aware that Google uses social factors to influence the ranking of websites in SEO results. The extent or exact weighting of this is not yet known.
However, your social circle in Google+ will influence the results you see. For example, if a social connection of yours has +1’d a page or Google search result, and you searched for a related term, you would see that result in a high position due to it holding a ‘friend recommendation’.
From a site integration point of view, the use of the +1 button is recommended, in the same way we would recommend using the Facebook and twitter share interaction. We would recommend using it on pages which hold useful information for the consumer, i.e. social, news or community pages.
Whether Google+ will become a significant rival to Facebook remains to be seen. Facebook is the dominant social network and continues to grow fast in most territories, but it would be great to see a credible challenge to its position in the market. A serious error of judgement with over-commercialisation of social interactions can shake people’s confidence in any network, and this could still bring about a major shift in loyalty.
For the moment it is very much a case of ‘wait and see’ for Google+ but the future is bound to be interesting, whatever happens.
See what Google says: www.google.co.uk/plus