In a sign that the gloves may be off between the major social networks, Google announced the launch of “Search plus Your World.” The new search feature integrates social results with “organic” search results. Although there has been much debate already about whether Google is monopolizing its dominant position in the search market, there is no debating that this is a significant development for brands. Leaders of their brands marketing, public relations or social media functions who have put off joining Google+ until the platform matures will want to reevaluate their decision and strongly consider participating now.
Search plus Your World, in addition to returning search results from a person’s larger social graph, allows search based solely on personal online connections, called “Personal Search.” To some, or perhaps many, Personal Search could become more appealing than organic results. The catch is, Google heavily favors results from Google+ (surprising right?). So, with Search plus Your World, what’s being said or shared about any brand is much more highly indexed and findable, especially when it’s shared on Google+. The implications are far-reaching.
In our Search plus You World world, how can brands leverage and protect themselves given the new search realities that must be faced? Here are six important steps that marketing leaders should take now when it comes to Google+:
Create a Google+ page and build it out as fully as possible. Using all the features including posts, brand information, photos and videos is important. A fully developed page will encourage visitors to spend increased time on it and interact with it more. If they like what they see they may “circle” the page and open the door to further communication and relationship building.
Grow the page’s community. An active page is more likely to show up in search results and has a greater likelihood of being circled. Be sure to promote your presence on Google+ in your other social and traditional marketing efforts. The platform is great for interacting with followers so it’s a good idea to do that as much as possible. Followers will appreciate the attention.
Resist the urge to aggressively market. Make the focus of your Google+ page to share content and engage. This increases the chances that people will circle the page, interact and share its content.
Consider keyword use whenever possible. Determine the words or terms that are used frequently in search in your market and integrate those whenever possible. However, the main goals for the page should still be to interact, engage and grow a community. This will lead to a more thriving page that ultimately is more successful by gaining shares and discussion with more people.
Guard brand reputation with diligence. Social media has raised the stakes for brands when it comes to reputation management. News about poor service or products can now spread quickly. Search plus Your World takes this issue to new heights. Failings of brands will not fade as quickly anymore. They can be resurfaced with a simple search. Brands will want to take this seriously and do even more to ensure that they are exceeding expectations, or at least meeting them.
Commit for the long-term. For most brands, growing an abundant community will not take place overnight. It’s important to always operate with a long-range vision and commitment backed by continuous effort and activity.
Whether we agree with it or not, search just got much more personal. What other implications of this do you see for brands?
Author: Steve Sonn
Steve Sonn is the Principal of S2 Marketing Communications. He has more than 25 years of marketing and PR experience with health care and business-to-business companies.