What Google+ Means For Marketing And PR Pros

Yesterday with the launch of Google+ to a larger group of beta users, PR News reached out for me for comment. I responded to a few items for a quick article on their site, but actually gave even more detail than they were able to publish.

However I wanted to share those details with you to provide context on my thoughts about Google+ and what it means for you as a communications professional.

What does Google+ mean for PR pros?

A vital part of being a modern public relations professional includes testing, tinkering and experimenting with new communications technologies. Google+ is no different, and web savvy communicators should try to be among the first to dive in and get familiar with all the features when released. Only by participating can platform specific ideas emerge that let you roll new tools into existing digital strategies. But keep in mind, the social web as a whole (existing tools and new) all always have one thing in common: they are a problem in search of a solution. They’re a blank slate. So what stories, content or ideas do you have to feed them? At the end of the day, that’s what matters for all communications professionals.

How will this affect ongoing efforts on other social networks (if at all)?

It would be premature to say exactly to what extent. That all depends on how the platform is adopted. What does make sense is to at minimum show up and meet expectation from users that do try Google+. There is an expectation that if a company is “social” they aren’t just using one tool. Rather, they are participating across the web wherever their customers may be or industry discussions take place. Facebook and other social networks aren’t going away anytime soon. But frequently the web is “and” rather than “or” and treating it that way makes sense especially while platforms are new. There is no advantage to being late, and you have a lot to gain by being early, especially as media are hungry for case studies of how companies in every industry are embracing new platforms.

How can public relations pros advise their clients or companies?

PR pros should already have a digital strategy for their brand on the web. If they don’t, it’s time to get to work. For a sophisticated company, the strategy should (usually) involve putting an “owned” channel such as a self-hosted company blog at the center and building a community around it, using social networks and other people’s platforms (OPPs) as spokes. The reason being, this creates a hub on the web for a company that is platform agnostic and can neatly “plug in” to any emerging platform. The power of having a community that is self-hosted is that your influence and traffic are diversified: if one network, search engine or app falls out of favor it will never have too much of a negative impact.

With all of that said, each platform has specific tactical opportunities within. PR and marketing pros can become fluent by trying themselves: so head over to their landing page to request an invite and be the first to test it out. Then as you experiment start by compiling a list of recommendations specific to your clients and companies.

What has the buzz about the network been so far?

In reading through discussions on tech savvy blogs and discussion boards as well as chatting with our tech savvy team at LEWIS, the sentiment appears to be excitement for Google. My sense is there is pent up demand for someone to provide a solid alternative to Facebook. Even if Google+ isn’t a direct alternative (yet) it is somewhat being championed as such. While Facebook has become the definitive macro social network, that’s not to say all users have always been pleased with the service. To some users, especially those really passionate about sharing industry specific ideas, Facebook was never a great place because it brought together so many disparate networks. Getting updates from your parents, coworkers, friends and favorite brands all in one place might not be as compelling as having easy segmentation, something Google+ is offering with Circles. I’m personally excited to use it more. Whether it catches on long term is of course yet to be seen.

You can see my activity on Google+ and add me to one of your circles here: https://profiles.google.com/agsinger.com/posts