Google has, after a great deal of time, false-starts, and speculation, entered into the Social game with their latest offering – Google+. Google+ is Google’s long anticipated response to Facebook. It is still in its early infancy and currently an invitation-only format where you must be invited to join. This is similar to how they rolled out Gmail with ever-increasing numbers of people able to create accounts. You can visit https://plus.google.com to add your name to the list for future invites if you wish. Should businesses start salivating over another Social Media opportunity in Google+?
First of all, after initial reports of corporations like Ford jumping in with both feet, Google has announced that it does not want businesses to begin launching accounts on Google+ just yet. They have stated they want the program to be for individuals for now but will be launching business profiles by the end of the year. (http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/2086707/google-brands-fast)
Google has provided an additional sign-up form directed at businesses however – here . The details around this portion of the program are vague at this point but Google does state there is no guarantee of acceptance and that “test profiles will be retired when we launch our business product”. So the benefits of participating as a business are unknown at this point.
Should you sign up for the business profile waiting list? While the potential benefits may not be concrete at this time, what would it hurt? Worst-case scenario would be that you get denied or never make the cut. Maybe you do make the cut but then have to create a new account once the trial period is over. I would guess Google would offer a way to carry over your trial account’s followers but that is just speculation on my part. Conversely, what could be the harm of not signing up? Again, speculation here, but there is a chance of the trial accounts getting preferential placement in line for the full-blown business accounts once they are available. Also, it might be nice to experiment and learn the new system while it is still in ‘trial mode’.
Will Google+ be a true competitor of Facebook and/or will it be another potential benefit to businesses? Only time will tell for certain but Google obviously has some strong factors on its side. Not the least of these benefits is Google’s large cash reserves of over $30 billion – that’s a lot of money to throw at any problems that might arise. Google is also the dominant player in Search Engines. Recently, I wrote a post regarding Microsoft’s Bing search engine and mentioned their partnership with Facebook to tie search and social media together. Google has a potential advantage in this area in that it would control both areas under one large umbrella and it already has a leg up in search.
There are some glaring negatives for Google+ however. Possibly the most difficult obstacle Google will face will be the firm entrenchment Facebook has in the Social arena. There are so many users already on Facebook with all of their friends already established that it may be hard to entice them onto a new platform. While many will jump on board just because it is the ‘new’ thing, there may be just as many if not more who are unwilling to start over or do double effort. There is also Google’s past attempts at entering the social game – Google Buzz and Google Wave. Heard of those? Probably not so much unless it was in regards to the class-action lawsuit about privacy rights. Not Google’s finest hour by any means.
So check out Google+ – http://www.google.com/intl/en-US/+/demo/ and http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/ . Temper your expectations and decide whether this is something you want to try out. At the very least, I would recommend adding yourself to the personal account waiting list just to see if you can get in and experience the application from a user’s perspective. Google+ may be another failure but it may also be the next big thing in Social Marketing.
Let us know what you and your dealership plan to do!

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