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Google hopes (+) – sized features will overtake Facebook & Twitter

Google recently added the (+) sign to its suite of products for both consumers and businesses in a bid to bury the failure of Google Buzz and create a platform to challenge Twitter and Facebook.

In fact, while Mark Zuckerburg may conclude the sole purpose of Google Plus is to overtake Facebook, Google begs to differ.

Google sees Plus, arguably, as a hybrid system that takes the best features out of both Facebook and Twitter to create something completely new.

And, if it’s right it may generate up to 400 million new users by year’s end. Currently Google Plus has attracted about 60 million sign-ups but there is some doubt as to how many of these are actively using all the features.

The Hangout feature is one of the areas Google Plus engineers are currently raving about.

This offers up 1-click video conversations with both customers and co-workers. The goal is face-to-face product feedback to mitigate rapid problem solving over video chat.

Another variation pioneered by Google is the ability to segment your customers into gold, silver and bronze customers. They call this feature Google circles which allows small business owners to separate out content for customers at various states of the sales pipeline. Thus, you could distinguish between:

  • Suspects
  • Prospects
  • Leads
  • Customers who purchased

As an aside, those using Google Apps for Small Business had to a wait a bit longer for the functionality to seep through to their management screens, which did cause a bit of consternation.  Google appeared to be very cautious in releasing this feature to business users, as it wanted to test reaction in the consumer market first.

As expected, there will be two different Google search results experiences depending on whether you or not you are logged in as a Google user.

If logged in, expect to see extra information, including personal data from your Google+ circles account.  This is another signal of the ongoing personalization revolution that is driving website content on the Internet.

This has long-term implications for how small business owners optimize their sites for search engines. The onus is now on customizing the experience for users who are registered on a search engine or network like Facebook.

This indicates a much more complex optimization strategy, which is built around integrating social media from all the major players.  Increasingly, users are diversifying where they spend most of the time, with the obvious benefactor and “king” being Facebook.

However, if the projected Google Plus numbers for 2012 are correct then business owners must get their Google Plus Business Page going.

And, let’s not forget about rival platforms such as LinkedIn or Foursquare. Both may mount a challenge to Facebook, Google and Twitter in the future. This requires a multi-pronged social media ‘page’ building strategy outside of your core website.

We’re on Google+ and while we’re still understanding how to use it we love to connect. Check us out.

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