If you’re a brand manager, odds are the buzz around the implications of Google+ have started to filter into your marketing discussions. Is it really a gamechanger? Will your audiences shift en masse to G+ leaving Facebook a virtual ghost town? Does this mean that you need to start thinking about a different social media strategy? The answers are….I’m not that convinced, I’m pretty sure they won’t, and yes, but not in the way you might be thinking.
G+ a Gamechanger?
My instinct tells me that it will take a lot more than Google+’s Circles, Huddles, and Hangouts to dislodge avid Facebook users from the social media giant. And, when it comes to the not-so-avid user, they’re already overwhelmed by trying to stay social on Facebook (mostly through the peer pressure of friends on the network) so they’re not going to add another account to their mix.
And, after spending some time on G+ myself, I’m kind of ambivalent. Mostly because, despite some of the cool features, they’re just not cool enough to lure me from a place where my connections are well established. My guess is most of your audiences feel the same.
Why Move from an Established Community to a Neighborhood Still Under Construction if the Houses are Pretty Much the Same?
Here’s what I’ve noticed. Most of my friends who are personal users of Facebook haven’t even looked at G+. Sure there are those that have signed up with G+ out of curiosity. But mostly, after a post or two with little or no response, they go back to Facebook, where the conversation stream is rich and all the likes and comments to your posts feel like a warm blanket on an arctic day. And the statistics bear it out. While G+ usage was down in July over June – a 3% drop in site traffic and a 10% drop in average time spent according to Hitwise, Bloomberg and Techcrunch , Facebook usage was up by 20.23% over July 2010 and up 2% since April 2011 according to social media watcher Nick Burcher.
I’m not surprised. Facebook is familiar and the community is established. That’s where people have an social history, all their friends, posts, photos, etc. Why move and start from scratch, when they’ve already built a neighborhood? Especially, when the new neighborhood is not that much different from the one in which they now reside.
So, as a brand manager, what is your next move?
Perhaps the gift, unintended though it might be, from Google to brand managers is that you don’t have to scramble to create a presence on G+ to keep up with the Jones’ because…G+ won’t let you anyway.
Instead, you have time to see where G+ settles in the social media universe and plan your social marketing priorities accordingly.
More importantly, in my estimation, is that the advent of G+ and the waiting period for organizational pages on G+ gives you an opportunity to assess your overall social media efforts and consider your next steps in this arena.
It gives you time to ask the question "what is effective use of social media and have we as an institution hit that level of social media maturity?" I point you to a blog by Adam Singer on Mature vs. Immature Social Media Efforts that will give you some insight into where you can mature your social media efforts.
For example, Singer writes that brands that are immature in their social media approach "freak out when a new tool is released. Because they are frequently so platform dependent, they worry their networks may be disrupted and any digital leverage lost."
On the other hand, Brands mature to social media already have a larger digital marketing strategy. So when new tools or platforms arrive it is clear how and if it should be used. And, since mature brands are platform agnostic, it is usually as simple as adding new networks as another spoke in an already robust mix, tagging back to a hub.
Got you thinking? We would love to hear what you think.