Google Plus For Business
Google Plus is poised to become yet another tool for businesses to market and network online. One main reason is because it is easy to use and has not yet been cluttered and confused with pitiful attempts at monetization. But how effective will it be, if it all?
To answer this question we first have to take into consideration a few facts about the social networking environment when it comes to business. First we must realize that aside from linkedin, most other major social networking platforms were originally created with personal usage in mind. Facebook, Twitter, even Myspace were all developed with the individual in mind, not businesses or bands.
It was the end users that figured out how to leverage the tools to work for them in a business environment. Since their creation the developers and business minds behind popular social networking tools have been trying to find ways to monetize their web properties according to the way users use them.
Take, for example, Facebook. With its numerous changes and adjustments, Facebook has been trying to limit and restrict services in an effort to capitalize on the "likes" game. Businesseses, in hopes of networking marketing their way to increased sales and revenue are increasingly prompted to spend on advertising to accumulate "likes". Though freely available to personal users, businesses with business pages cannot search for and befriend other businesses directly or request likes through Facebook.
In their effort to monetize, Twitter has been imposing restrictions and outright closing accounts, without warning, for users trying to accumulate to many followers too quickly because they want them to pay for featured placements in order to gain followers quickly.
It is only natural that Google Plus users will undoubtedly find ways to utilize the service to promote themselves and/or their businesses, how nasty things get will depend on how desperate Google becomes in trying to monetize their social networking platform.
Simplification of the Social Networks
If they play fair and remain free and open, Google will take business users away from both Facebook and Twitter. Why? It's simple, Google already has monetization built into their system and an attractively easy to use and highly integratable system. They are not as desperate as Facebook or Twitter in trying to monetize their web properties.
Google has already gained much popularity with businesses through their Google Places business listings, which are still free. By integrating Google Places with Google Plus and the many features of Google Apps, Google will undoubtedly dominate the social networking arena when it comes to business.
Once this happens Facebook and Twitter will have a difficult time generating revenue because people are simply not going to spend on ads to gain personal friends or personal followers (or will they?).
In other words, although originally created for personal social networking, much like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, Google Plus has more potential in becoming a great business tool for social networking. Its simple, easy to use system is also an attractive feature as personal users can easily create circles for potential business partners, current business partners, friends, family and who knows what.
Google Plus Pages
The official word has not yet been released from Google with regard to Google Pages, the business networking tool related to Google Plus, but it is in development. Still many people have already tried to use their Google Plus personal accounts for business related purposes. Google has asked businesses to refrain from using Google Plus for business profiles and branding pages as it is not suitable, but I don't really see anything wrong with creating a circle for business related activities or colleagues.
For most companies and businesses, however, it does make sense to wait for Google Pages. It also makes sense to wait for Google to figure out how to integrate the two before you put together your marketing scheme, without people and an understanding of how they operate within Google Plus it would be almost impossible for businesses to know how to make use of their Google Pages for marketing purposes.
Though Google has had the benefit of observing the nature of social networking and business through their usage of Facebook they still need to let users have a go with their own systems before they can make the really hard decisions of how to integrate and monetize. Because the hype around Google Plus and Pages is much more that it was for Orkut, Wave or Buzz there is a much higher chance for success, but if social networking developers have learned anything in the past few years, it is that when it comes to social networking it is the people that decide. Have they finally been able to predict what we will want and do? We shall see.