Google+: The Business Implications of Google’s Latest Social Foray

Writing about Google+ wasn’t an option. When an 800-pound gorilla makes a frontal assault on Facebook, Skype AND Twitter, sending the tech punditry into breathless buzz and sparking curiosity about the potential seismic effects on social networking, well, that warrants ink. The question wasn’t if…but how. What hasn’t been said already (10 times over)? Where are the unique stones to be turned over?

Here’s what we decided: Google+ could eventually emerge as a robust platform for businesses of every ilk, including local, and its wide-ranging integrations with other Google products will open up social marketing possibilities that heretofore don’t exist. In our latest Advisory for Social Local Media clients, Andrew Shotland and I dive deeper into these business implications.

Over the past 12 to 18 months, Google has been on a frenetic streak of local product launches: Places, Hotpot (since rolled into Places), Boost, Talkbin (through acquisition), Offers, Wallet, +1. Yet we wondered what kind of meal these various ingredients could bake.

Google+, tied into Places, Offers, +1 social search signals and Analytics, may be the connective tissue that creates a new, comprehensive business communications suite for merchants. Or as Andrew put it:

“One day we are all going to wake up and find “Places” as a default stream in our Google+ experience and a business’ “Plus” stream as part of the default Place Page experience. When this happens it will be like local search chocolate meeting social media peanut butter.”

Of course, we’re making some assumptions about Google+ winning enough adoption to become at least an additive social layer. We think it can, but that’s no layup. Facebook already has 750 million users and is quickly iterating to become a full-serve media (movies, music) and commerce (Credits, Deals) company. How many social networks will the average Joe populate before closing off newcomers?

For you Google+ pioneers, let us know your early impressions. And from a local business perspective, what are the possibilities that you envision?

SLM subscribers can read the full report here.

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