Google+ and Picking the Right Social Networks for Your Business

The Wall Street Journal  has an interesting article today about Google+, the search giant’s recent foray into the social media scene.  With 90 million users signed up since last June,  Google+ seems to be getting a little bit of traction in comparison to Google’s other failed attempts to get involved in the social side of things (RIP Google Wave, Buzz, and unless you live in Brazil, Orkut).  But according to the Journal, Google+’s  active user base is miniscule compared to SM behemoth Facebook:

“Visitors using personal computers spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between last September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook each month over the same period, according to comScore, which didn’t have data on mobile usage.”

Does this mean your business should be ignoring Google+?  Well, not exactly.  While in and of itself Google+ isn’t looking like a valuable addition to your overall online marketing mix from a user engagement standpoint, it does have ancillary benefits in relation to Google’s more recent focus on social media in relation to their traditional search product.  Google is now incorporating more personalized results into their search results, and surprise, surprise, because Twitter and Facebook results aren’t aggregated in public search results, here comes Google+ to the rescue with its own social content to fill in the gaps.

Mashable has a nice article on what you can do as a brand to make sure you’re doing right by Google+, SEO, and local search, but this all leads to a bigger question.  Which tools should we be using for the biggest bang for our buck?  Before we start incorporating a new social media tool into our marketing mix, we always try to ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. Does our target audience use this tool?
    First and foremost, are the people you want to talk to on the same platform you are?  Now some networks like Facebook, YouTube, etc., have reached such critical mass that you’re bound to find your demographic out there, but when something like Pinterest pops up, it’s worth noting who’s using it and if those are the folks you want to be talking to.
  2. Does this tool fit our business needs?
    If the physical location of your business is immaterial, you’re probably wasting your time on FourSquare.  Unless you’re producing engaging visual content consistently, Flickr and YouTube may not be the best use of your available resources.   Choose the tools that are the best platforms for the kind of content you can create consistently and at the highest level of quality you can.
  3. Can we sustain an ongoing effort on this platform?
    None of these outlets are going to do you any good if you can’t keep up a consistent engagement with other users.   This doesn’t mean you have to dedicate all of your time allocated to marketing to social media alone; it just means that is has to be an ongoing relationship that allows you time to create content and interact and respond to other users.
  4. Is this tool a good complement to our other marketing efforts?
    Social media is just a part of your overall marketing mix, but it has to remain consistent with your other branding efforts to achieve maximum results.   If your traditional media is talking about one thing and your social media can’t reinforce the same messages, you’re not getting the biggest bang for your buck.

By answering these questions, you can whittle down all the options out there and concentrate on just the few networks that achieve the best results for your marketing efforts.  You can’t be all things to all people, and you definitely can’t be all things to all social media as well.

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About Brian Evans

I’m proud to help promote visitation of Lancaster County (my home!) as the e-Marketing Manager at the PA Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau. I love handling any web projects, SEM, SEO, email marketing, and miscellaneous internet-related marketing opportunities that get thrown my way.
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