When Google+ was launched to great fanfare (and required an “invite” to participate) it also became possible to create a Google+ page for your business. You could create content, post videos and accumulate followers and it acted much like a personal Google+ personal page. You probably also had a Google Places page which was linked to Google Maps and in June these pages were rebranded into what is now called Google+ Local pages.
According to Google it will “unify your business’ presence across Google Search, Google Maps and Google+ and manage this new page from Google+ pages admin.”
So rather than try and figure out the implications, both current and future, I went straight to the horse’s, um, mouth and knocked on the door of Rob Rance, CEO of Turn The Page Online Marketing. And as he is all things small biz/online world domination I figured he could shed some light on just what the heck this all means.
Do you think the merging of Google Places and Google+ business pages is overly complicated or even necessary?
Depends on the perspective – if you are Google then it is necessary. Mobile, local and social are becoming an integral part of all our lives. Google wants to be at the forefront of providing a service to fit that dynamic. For those doing the searching the test is do they get the results and social interaction they want? Success or failure is dependent on just that and only time will tell. Certainly the new Zagat score seems user friendly and has been positively received. In reality it is simply a progression and upgrade of Hotpot (launched in 2010) which Google attached to Places and it failed. It maybe that Google+ succeeds by virtue of being complex and social because society is ready to move in that direction. Of course, the acid test is, does Google+ become relevant and do Google maintain their current search dominance simultaneously.
What the implications for small businesses who may not have the time to build yet another network?
Time management is critical for all business owners in this ever-changing digital world. In all this I see great opportunity – assuming a business owner spends the time and is efficient. The problem is usually lack of education/understanding of how best to spend the time you allow for marketing. With Google making 86 changes in June and July and more expected it is difficult. Do you spend time keeping up with the latest changes or do you run your business? Any time spent (learning and doing) should be balanced against ROI and the benefits of a using a professional.
And who would you recommend?
<Eye roll followed by noogie.>
Since Facebook advertising doesn’t seem to be effective for small business does building a network like G+ make more sense in the local business arena?
The first thing to understand is that succeeding online now is really a culture shift for most businesses. You have to forget what you think works from a direct marketing standpoint. Online marketing is like a massive networking event-it takes time. Don’t be the bore who walks up to everyone saying buy my products and I will talk to you or similar. I did a post about buying Facebook likes – its sort of like paying for friends. The essence of social marketing is to be social.
What advice would you give to a small biz considering tackling Google+?
Proceed with caution and be prepared for setbacks. Google usually operates in a fashion of incremental steps/additions as it implements a new product/strategy. Even those of us living and breathing Google 24/7 are usually surprised by at least one component we never thought was coming. If the steps keep coming it is usually a sign Google is comfortable with results. So far on Google+ Google is continuing to make steps.
Do you see a future in G+ considering all the failed Google projects over the year?
My belief is “Yes” – the integration of G+ to search means it will be a constant and should continue to grow. Google+ is the prime mover for Google in social search which is driven by their knowledge that people prefer a company with reviews online and they prefer a company with reviews from friends even more.
So there you have it-next up we’ll ask Rob what he thought of the final episode of “The Sopranos”. Until then, don’t stop believin’.