It’s impossible to escape the Google+ vs Facebook question.
This is becoming even more the case as the news about Google+ Pages spreads.
And evidently, it’s spreading pretty rapidly.
Techcrunch reports that 61% of Top brands have created Google+ Pages. Of course the article goes on to say that no one is following.
Perhaps this is because you can’t buy followers on Google+. You can only gain them by socially engaging and interacting with them on their own territory. This is what sets Google+ Pages apart from Facebook Pages.
Because Google doesn’t allow promotions and contest, “gaming” the system that much harder. Which means that the guys and girls in the big brand marketing departments actually come up with a truly different Page experience for their Google+ strategy.
This is a big deal for me. One of my major frustrations with Facebook Pages is that there is no way to interact with your “fans” other than on your Page. Getting fans to leave comments on your page keeps many a Facebook strategist busy.
With Google+ pages, however, once someone adds you to their “circle” you can interact directly with their profile updates as your page by commenting and +1ing (liking) their updates. They will even get notifications that your page has interacted with them.
2. Video “Hangouts”
Sure there’s the Skype & Facebook marriage which allows you to video chat with friends but you can’t host a video with 10 friends (and more, soon).
As with all features of Google+, Hangouts is integrated within the whole Google ecosystem. You’ll find hangouts posted not only on your timeline but also in search results.
Invitations to “hangout” can be to one person, a circle or public.
Here’s 5 ways that Hangouts can become an integral part of your Google+ business page strategy: (via B2C)
Engagement – a Google+ Hangout personalizes your brand in a way that’s difficult to match in other social media. Customers and prospects can see and hear the faces of the brand — not just read their words. They can ask questions or just hear what you have to say about the brand. Face-to-face, they’re building a more intimate relationships with the brand.
Make a big splash with your launch –let’s say you’re introducing a new product and you don’t have the budget to do a flashy launch like Facebook or Apple. Use a Google+ Hangout. Invite lead users, the press, or other influential folks to a Hangout and launch your product.
Product demos –demonstrating your product on a Google+ Hangout adds a live audience to interact with the demo — making it more exciting and interesting for your audience. You can even do a screen capture with Camtasia or other product, upload it to YouTube and embed it on your site for future visitors. (Google, please integrate recording into your hangouts!).
Internal meetings and training –using a Google+ Hangout with employees makes sales meetings, strategy sessions, and training more fun. And unlike video conferencing, a Google+ Hangout is more interactive without special equipment. You can see everyone as they talk so you don’t lose nonverbal communication. Google+ Hangouts feel more natural, so folks get to know each other better and work better together.
Use a Google+ Hangout as a focus group –you gain the advantage of multiple perspectives without the expense and hassle of gathering participants into a physical space.
3. Targeted Messages
One thing seems very obvious as we discuss Google+ pages – they operate very much like your own Google Profile page. Aside from the fact that you can’t circle or connect with someone unless they’ve circled you, ( a good spam preventative) the way you interact is very similar.
I may have mentioned this before, but I love circles. You target your messages to your following through whatever circle you placed them in.
You can create circles for your employeesand send them messages to alert them of new social promotions you would like their help in sharing or other news. It’s a great way to communicate with remote employees, contractors, and freelancers.
You can create circles for your partnersto let them know of special product sales that they might be interesting in sharing with their audience as it involves their products.
You can create circles for your top customersor even members of your loyalty program and share special discounts and coupon codes for members only.
You can create circles for customers in specific regionsand send them geo-location based status messages dependent on their location.
Your “public” postings can be seen by everyone whether they are in your circles or not, but with circles, there are so many ways to interact with your followers – focus groups?
Ray Hiltz is a Google Plus Specialist and Social Media Strategist helping small businesses establish their brands and build their communities on the social web.
A strong proponent for the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking, Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus.
His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and individuals just trying to make sense of "social".
Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.