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August 23, 2011

Applying strategic communication principles for Google+ for businesses & brands

Google+ has definitely caught the attention of not only public relations and social media professionals, but it is also one of the main platforms of focus for brands and businesses.  The platform is only allowing individuals to set up Google+ accounts, but we may see some brand profiles appearing on Google+ soon.  Already there are many great guides for individuals in using Google+, and there are also some presentations and insights already discussing how businesses and brands can use Google+ eventually.  There are some differences with these profile pages on Google+ compared to the popular Facebook pages, but it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

When people do think of brands, they are usually thinking about major organizations and businesses like Apple, Starbucks, Ford, and others to name a few.  But, you can also classify universities, non-profits, and government agencies into these categories.  Here are just a few ways that this individual organizations and agencies can use Google+ if they have a brand page for themselves:

  • Crisis+ for Universities, Non-Profits, and Government: I had written a post a while ago talking about how Google+ can transform and even evolve current crisis communication practices related to social media monitoring and communications.  Establishing relationships and hosting hangouts to conduct interviews or share updates with a crisis team with video are just some of the new features Google+ can offer to crisis communication professionals.  Pus, the potential of integrating Google Maps into Google+ to share updates on crises with specific geolocation features is huge for crisis communication professionals to have. There may be a possibility to integrate such similar services in terms of geolocation applications like Esri.  This would be relevant for all of the organizations and agencies I have listed above to be aware of.
  • Recruiting and Networking with Current and New Friends:  PR is all about establishing proactive and long-term relationships with not only current audience members, but also networking and reaching out to other emerging and potential audience members.  This is about establishing a brand presence with specific attributes associated with the reputation of the organization you are representing in the minds of these particular audience members.  Engaging in a positive interaction and conversation will help establish this relationship and trust.  Another way to help network and recruit is hosting mini webinars for potential employees, students, and parents to ask representatives questions and comments about the particular business or organization.
  • Checking in with colleagues, employees, and even students overseas in international internships:  Whether you are a small company or if you are a research team working in different states – Google+ can be a way for a group of individuals to host conference calls to not only get up-to-date information, but also have a visual of the other team members.  In addition, internal communications can come up as well in universities among professors hosting virtual office hours with students as well as checking in with students if they are overseas for an international internship.
  • Establishing trust through verified Google+ accounts:  Similar to what Twitter has done, Google+ is offering verified accounts, which does add to the level of trust of the other person via social media when engaging in business and communication practices. Businesses and organizations on Google+ want to make sure that they have one of these accounts to add to the level of trust and credibility for all of their audiences.
  • Social Gaming+:  One of the big trends that happened on FB was the emergence of advergaming and social games like Angry Birds, Farmville, and Mafia Wars.  Will this same gaming trend happen in Google+?  I would imagine so, and this could be a window of opportunity not only for e-commerce and mobile commerce purposes, but also another outlet to consider reaching out to in terms of contributing to social causes via games (similar to what happened in CityVille when the tsunami hit Japan in March 2011).
  • Establishing Measurement criteria and analytics:  With Google, the analytics and related services are going to be more sophisticated and complex at the same time – so businesses and agencies need to make sure that they are aware of some of these features and determine how they are going to be evaluating the traffic, interactions, tone, geolocation and mapping, and level of engagement via Google+.  Not only is it key to make sure to measure PR objectives, but also to take into consideration other IMC and Advertising elements as well to get more of a comprehensive strategic communications perspective of the social media presence on Google+.  Other considerations that need to be made with this as well is to determine how to measure mobile through the Google+ App for the smartphone.  In addition, the complex nature of social search should also be taken into consideration not only for measurement purposes, but also for strategic communications as well.
In summary, business and other organization profile pages will definitely be emerging shortly and it will be very interesting from a strategic communication perspective to see how this all plays out.  Businesses and communication professionals should keep up with these new features and adapt their practices based on new emerging technologies and expectations from their audiences on what they are looking for in terms of their PR, Advertising, and IMC practices.
Hope you all are having a great day!
Best Wishes,
Karen

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