UPDATE: Google has announced that a dedicated, richer business offering will be coming later this year. In the interim, all non-real person accounts will be removed.
A number of brands have begun to experiment with Google+. Early adopters are trying various tactics, some smart, some spammy. In the limited time that I have spent with brands and celebrities (who are kind of like brands) I have noticed a few common areas where they could use some optimization.
Please find my early recommendations below. As always, please feel free to add you own thoughts in the comments section and I'll be sure to update.
10 Tips for Brands on Google+
- Don't publish too often. This isn't Twitter and you don't need to post every single thought or story that you have available. As brands will likely have a larger following, brands posts will resonate far louder than intended (as all post activity will bring the posts back to the top). News outlets, please pay attention to this one.
- Educate. This platform is very new to most users. They may be confused or offended due to their inexperience in the platform. Prepare sample posts and responses that can be used to address common complaints, such as Why is my stream all posts from you? and How can I send you an email or DM? For an example, see Robert Scoble's post on Plus here.
- Optimize your Hangout setup. While you don't need a studio, decent lighting, a quiet setting, good bandwidth, and a decent quality webcam and microphone will help. Don't over-think this, but remember that people should be able to clearly see and hear you.
- Make Hangouts worthwhile. Access to senior leadership is a fantastic surprise and delight that your early adopter fans will love. Keep them as long as they are meaningful, but leave the community wanting more. Alternative uses for Hangouts may include focus groups, Q&As and even just general jam sessions (provided this is of value to your community).
- Prepare for the unexpected. Don't think that this will be just like everything you've done before. Set expectations with management before jumping into an unknown and evolving social dynamic.
- Learn and adapt fast. This dynamic is evolving rapidly as new people come on board and those with a bit more experience under their belt begin to use Plus for things other than talking about Plus. Be sure to capture these learnings in writing for future use and scale.
- Think through your service solutions. Your in the conversation for your customers. If service is something your facing in your other channels, be prepared for the implications of service in this channel.
- Get the right staff in place. This isn't basic community management, this is a whole new experience. This isn't for the newbies, yet.
- Listen. Loudly. Setup a Spark for your brand name and read it. This is what your biggest fans and employees may have already done. Demonstrate to the community that you are listening by replying to their posts.
- If you're doing it, talk about it. Very few brands are playing in this space. This is a great opportunity to position yourself as a leader and innovator.
Caveat: Google has yet to unveil their API or brand marketer offering. Early adopters may find themselves re-doing some of their early efforts to accommodate the formal offering. Additionally, as more robust usage of features like photo uploading and tagging grows, new doors will be opened and new dynamics will emerge.
List of Brands on Google+
- Ford Motor Company
- Ford Europe
- Search Engine Land
- Mashable News
- Chicago Sun Times
- GMA News
- Breaking News
- Weatherbird - St Louis Dispatch
- The Next Web
- KOMU News