Thursday, March 15, 2012

3 Reasons to Make Google's +1 a Part of Your Social Media Plan

For online marketers and business owners, Google’s +1 program has led to everything from excitement and inspiration to head scratching and even indifference. What does it mean? Will it still be around – and relevant – in a few months? And how should a company best take advantage of it?

These are all good questions, and the answers aren't completely clear. For one thing, Google has a habit of leading the way when it comes to online marketing. Not all of their changes and innovations stick around, however, and so it's difficult to know how serious they are about making +1 a priority. As popular as the "like" feature has been on Facebook, who is to say that it matters on search engines?

Still, there are a lot of reasons to give Google's plus one a try, and a few ways they can help your social media marketing plan. Here are three things you should definitely keep in mind:

1. Google +1 might eventually affect search results if it is not already. Although no public announcements have been made, Google has been on the forefront of integrating real-time social content into their search results. Tweets, Facebook status updates, and other messages are being used not only as search results themselves, but to influence which websites are listed first for different keywords and phrases. It seems possible – and maybe even likely – that Google will look to integrate its own +1 results into the rankings at some point in the future.

2. You might learn something from +1 responses. One of the toughest things about Internet marketing is that, even if you're using a high-end analytics package, it's difficult to know what buyers think of various pages, blog posts, and ideas. By embracing +1 and asking for feedback, your business might be able to shortcut that process. That's because there aren't many better ways to get direct input from potential customers. Information, even more than products and prices, is the lifeblood of an online marketing plan, so why not make the most of +1 opinions?

3. Google's +1 may ultimately look a lot different than it does right now. We have already mentioned that Google has a habit of adding and subtracting programs all the time, but what we didn't point out is that they go away altogether… instead they just become integrated into something different. With that in mind, there's no guarantee that the +1 you see now is the +1 we’ll all be talking about later – there might be other social features that are added, or that become more important. If and when that happens, don't you want to have a head start on your competition?

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