Beth Foster is Google’s lead for businesses in Northern and Central Europe on their social platform G+. She spent some time with Croud’s Content Manager Iain recently and explained how G+ is the leading social platform for brands and how you can make the most of it.
The first generation of online social technology has changed the world we live in, and become an indispensable part of the way we all communicate. But when we started the G+ project a few years ago, we had the idea that sharing on the web was broken – that social had become this broadcast medium where you were saying one thing, and it was going out to everyone. There was none of the nuance of real life. Technology has the capability to take the social experience much further. There is a new frontier – beyond sharing that is stuck in the stream; beyond social content largely rooted in one dimension of relevance; and beyond image or text based conversation.
At Google we’ve taken a different approach to social. We wanted to create a platform that allowed you to share with the people you care about, and explore the things you’re into. We are building new ways to take your post content beyond the stream; to add in personal context as well as location and intent into your social content, and allow communication which will engage a human element.
Whether you’re on the platform or across the web, Google+ makes your entire Google experience better. OK, so if it’s “different”, how should you think of G+?
Firstly, Google+ as a platform – for sharing experiences, having conversations, and forming new relationships has grown into a global community of over 300 million active users, making it one of Google’s fastest growing products ever. But that’s only where it begins…better yet, Google+ provides a unified identity across all of Google, and even across the web (thanks to Sign In). This includes who you are as an individual, the people you’re connected to, and the recommendations that matter to you. It’s personalizing all of your Google experiences. Simply put, Google+ is making your entire Google experience better for you.
So, what does this mean for you as a brand marketer?
Build brand Awareness
More than half of online users discover brands through search or social media. If we want to shift awareness, chances are this will happen using one of these important channels. Google+ bridges the gap between these channels, enabling better discovery of your brand’s content. G+ has the unique ability to amplify your brand’s social content and develop a unified, consistent brand identity across the web. The G+ stream is just the beginning for your content. When you share content here, your message is amplified and discoverable across Google including search, Gmail and YouTube – and with Auto-hashtags. Beyond discovery, Hangouts on Air extend your brand conversations to millions. Here’s an example:
TopShop transformed the fashion show with Hangouts, giving the average fashion lover a front row seat to exclusive Fashion Week events and backstage footage. Watch!
4 million video views of exclusive backstage hangouts with TopShop models and the design team
7,500 live views of TopShop’s exclusive red carpet HOA (Hangout on Air)
TopShop also designed their own custom hangout app which allowed fans to design and share their own fashion collection together. Users spent an avg. 11 min in app and 52% reshared the app with friends
Through their efforts, TopShop acquired 300K new followers in 2 weeks
Social is a key influencer of purchase behaviour. G+ surfaces recommendations when it matters and enables brands to have authentic conversations with consumers throughout their decision process. Relevant G+ content surfaces in search (coming soon!), enabling users to discover your brand when it matters most. G+ Communities help users discover recommendations from experts, including other consumers and relevant brands. Hangouts bring your products to life in real-time and allow customers to tell your story for you.
Social recommendations drive sales. More than 37% of Millennials say they are more likely to purchase from brand that has social endorsements. The G+ audience is proving more valuable than other social audiences, in the retail sector, G+ referrals are 40% more likely to convert. Additionally, ads that show social recommendations are becoming more efficient as they see a 5-10% uplift in CTR on average.
Grow Loyalty and Retention
Social CRM drives long term relationships with customers. G+ allows you to grow your audience, build deeper relationships with customers and identify loyal brand advocates. Sign-In with Google enables you to grow register users on your site, drive app downloads and offer a more personalised experience for customers. Communities allow you to maintain a persistent dialogue and build personal relationships. Ripples in G+ and Top Fans in YouTube allow you to identify and tap into your most loyal customers.
It’s been just two years since we launched +Pages for businesses and brands, and we’re only getting started. This is just the very beginning for Google+: we’re extremely excited about where we’re heading in 2014.