Google+ is officially open for business. This is the kind of development that gets media in a frenzy and has the analysts chained to their desks for days as they contemplate what all this means. One of the obvious and immediate angles that people like to point out and play up is that Google+ is obviously an attempt to beat Facebook.
That is most certainly correct. The feature set and functionality offered by Google+, all the way to the +1 button, are most likely the result of careful and exhaustive study of Facebook's own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and wrong turns. But being a Facebook beater is by no means the only item on Google's agenda.
Beneath the surface, the fundamental differences between Google+ and Facebook are more clearly defined, and it is here where the real picture materializes. Facebook is the master of social engagement, and it is now finding ways to monetize this.
Google is the king of monetizing Web content -- it practically defined the entire economy of the Web -- and it is now searching for ways in which to extend this economic strength through social networking. This is an important distinction that bears watching because the business model that succeeds and dominates will be the one that defines the Web's economic paradigm in the coming years.
There are a number of advantages that Google+ can offer businesses that other social networks, including Facebook, will be hard pressed to match. These advantages are all built on Google's leadership in Search and its ability to drive and direct traffic through the Web.
1. Google+ will feed data to Google Search and help improve search results pages. This gives Google a closer, deeper look at how individuals share and discuss things over the Internet. Armed with this information, it can then improve its search results pages.
2. Google+ makes it more difficult to cheat on search results, allowing the search engine to produce higher quality results. One of Google's biggest headaches is how people can easily game the system in their favor. It's also the reason Google has had to continuously make dramatic changes (such as the infamous Panda algorithm) to the way it does things.
3. The +1 button will drive traffic. Just as Facebook's Like button and Twitter's tweets, the +1 is a credible vote of confidence and word-of-mouth promotional tool that can help steer people toward high quality content. Some websites that currently use the +1 button report that they get a 350 percent increase in visits. This is definitely something that holds the attention of businesses.
4. Google+ can help improve click-through rates. +1 ratings also encourage people to heed the call to action on the page. More and more people arm themselves with product knowledge before they make their purchase. The +1 button lets consumers know that certain products, company and web content have found favor among a certain group of people, increasing the probability of converting a prospect into a customer.
5. Google+ Direct Connect lets people easily find a company's Google+ business page. Users can simply add a "+" in front of a company's name when they search on Google, and they will be taken directly to that company's Google+ business page, if it exists. Setting this up is a simple and straightforward process, and the returns can be tremendous.
At Isis Toolbox - Social Media Marketing Tools we are working on a module that will allow you to remotely post content to your Google+ account (in addition to all of the other top social media sites) with a click of a button. We hope to help you make the most of Google+ by creating tools that really focus on distribution and not just analytics.