As you’ve read about on roughly every website, blog, Twitter feed and other web-based communications platform, Google opened up Google+, their nascent social network, for use by brands, businesses and companies this past Monday. Instead of rehashing the “how to set up an account” tutorials or other common themes that have been done to death in the rest of that coverage I instead wanted to walk through some of the points that need to be considered when working a Google+ Page into a corporate publishing program.
1) What are you publishing there: I’ve seen Pages that have solely unique content and Pages that are more or less straight cross-posts from what’s being published to Facebook. But if you’re not providing a unique experience and signaling that Google+ is basically the same thing as Facebook then you’re not giving people any reason to choose one over the other. Which then means that people will choose one over the other and you’ll see either your Google+ reach slowed because there’s not anything they’re not already getting by following you on Facebook or your Facebook network growth slow as people opt for Google+.
2) Will you target content at specific audiences: Just like you can put the people who follow your personal profile into Circles and then decide which one of those Circles to share a particular update with, brand Pages let you do the same thing. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Creating Circles of your fans and then only sharing certain updates with certain Circles can create some tricky situations and there is, of course, the risk that some folks will be alienated because they weren’t in a group that’s getting certain updates.
3) How will your metrics and goal change: As I said above how you decide to approach the publishing question will impact what you’re counting. If you’re deciding to cross-post everything to Facebook as well as Google+ or if you’re throwing exclusive content there when it normally would have gone to Facebook then the goals that you set out months ago for where Facebook network reach would be at the end of 2011 may need to be revisited and revised down. That goes for comments, new fan affiliations and more.
Google+ is new, obviously, especially from a brand point of view and it remains to be seen what else needs to be taken into consideration when incorporating it into a corporate social publishing program or if some of the concerns I mention here are overblown or not. But whenever there’s a new channel being considered for such a publishing program it needs to be viewed not just as a shiny new thing to latch on to immediately. Experiment, yeah, and if you find a great “third way” to approach things that doesn’t impact the audience on your other established channels that’s great. In the meantime consider these and other points that are specific to the program you’re running before jumping in too fully.