Social-savvy businesses and their customers have been anxiously awaiting the addition of business pages on Google's new social network, Google+. The network was opened to the public back in June, but only allowed personal pages. Google+ finally launched business pages this week.
Google+ has great potential to lead the social network pack, or at least place firmly in the top three. They have the funds and the brain-power to do it right, along with the advantage of learning from the networks that came before them. It may take some time to catch on, but Facebook would be wise to stay on their toes and so should you.
Dipping a Toe In
The first step that I recommend is joining Google+ as an individual so you are familiar with the user experience. The social concepts involved are somewhat unique and have a bit of a learning curve. I enjoy jumping in to learn new technology, but I finally gave in and read the Help section when some of the conceptual logic eluded me. (See a screen shot of my Google+ business page here.)
Once you're familiar with the concept, adding your business page to Google+ is relatively straightforward using their page creation wizard. If your company doesn't have a Gmail account, you'll need to sign up for one first.
It's important that petfood brands and merchants grab their brand names on the network to:
- Be there as the network grows and an increasing number of your customers search for you.
- Add the Google+ icon to your website to start growing your network following. This also makes your site eligible for Google Direct Connect. You can even incorporate Google+ with your Google AdWords campaigns.
- Avoid time-consuming trademark issues in the future.
- Improve your Google search ranking and be included in more intuitive search results. Hubspot reports that in their customer base, "Websites that use Google’s +1 button generated 3.5 times more traffic from Google+ than websites that don’t have the button installed."
One of the most important reasons is like Twitter, Google+ is different. It will appeal to your average social networking enthusiast, but it will probably attract a different personality type as well. This could mean that you'll have an opportunity to reach more consumers.
It is so important for the petfood industry to utilize every means possible to connect with consumers and establish open, honest lines of communication. We may not always like what consumers have to say, but we need to hear it regardless.