Socialize: Google+ May Be More of a Social Layer Than a Social Network

At today’s Socialize conference here at the beautiful St. Andrew’s Club onthe 27th floor of the Sun Life Financial Tower there was a great session discussing Google+ and its role within the greater Google suite.  The most interesting idea was that Google+ shouldn’t be looked at as a social network, but rather a social layer that improves Google’s core product, search.

The speakers are shown below and the summary is below that.

To kick things off, Jim asked a simple question: “What does Google+ mean to you?”

Chase said it gives brands a great opportunity to impact SEO.  Google is doing something brilliant because search has eroded a bit, and by using humans interacting with content it will really improve search.  Imagine searching for a particular recommendation and having the existing Google SEO amplified by the power of whether people had recommended the link or not on Google+.  Chase’s comments throughout the session emphasized on this aspect of things.

Dennis Yu says it’s too early to do anything yet.  First, master Facebook.  He went on later to point out that in his studies of marketing campaign results that Google+ was still only able to deliver a very small number of impressions and an even smaller number of actual clicks.

Lawrence considers it a social layer that will tie Google’s other products down the line, and that we’ll see a better socially enabled suite at some point.

Chase continued:  Google is not just another social network, it helps build your brand real estate.  Just like when Twitter came out, people said it was Facebook in another guise.  But Twitter served a different function.  Google+ can help potential consumers consume relevant, timely information from various sources and your company wants to be one of those sources.

A conference goer pointed out how MySpace was essentially murdered by Facebook, and asked whether Google+ can innovate enough to avoid the same fate.

Innovation is the most important element of the whole game.  People discounted Pinterest when it came out, and Chase pointed out that Pinterest is like hyper communication, a picture is worth a thousand words so that we can tell our story with just a photo.  It went viral, and it’s continued innovation has helped it grow.

The panel then went on to discuss some of the general merits of Google+ and offered some insights into the new emerging network.

  • Building a brand on Google+ can definitely help you improve your search results if you think about the future of SEO.  You’ve got this network of people following you on Google+, and they can be organized within circles and they have you within circles, and there is the easy potential for you to simply send out information, and let your followers +1 the content.  Then it has a big bonus in SEO and your content gets out there in the best way.
  • You can easily put your YouTube videos into your Google+ profiles, and this is crucial to help get your videos social.
  • Lawrence points out that if your’e on G+ and want to experiment with your posts, use analytics like webmaster tools to segment and target the right followers with the right messages.
  • Google+ will have its own tone, so people are going to be looking for information with that tone.  It may not be an irreverent tone like Twitter or a professional tone like LinkedIn.
  • From a demographic angle, G+ is constantly changing and brands are driving a lot of social media engagement across a variety of demographics — but overall there’s an older demographic for Google+.
  • Lawrence said we tend to measure success by whether they reacdh a critical mass, but that doesn’t have to happen with Google+, because it’s more about the search play and driving results in search to improve brands and AdSense type products.  Don’t just focus on Google+’s overall traffic numbers, because that 90 million statistic is not even exactly defined yet.
  • Dennis pointed out it’s going to help you pump up your click through rate, but it’s not going to be seen as a social network.  You’re going to likely see Google+ slowly gain adoption in a quiet, similar way to Google Docs.
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