Google+: The Long-Term View

Steve Cisowski
July 27, 2011

Everybody and their mothers are buzzing about Google+, the new social network that some are speculating will eventually conquer Facebook as the dominant online hangout space. Last week we talked about some of Google+’s cool features. But what exactly does this new platform mean for social media marketing?

Google had initially promised specialized pages for businesses later this year, but demand from the public has forced the company to accelerate their development. Ford and MTV, for example, are brands that have become early adopters in testing out some of Google+’s features, such as its video chat Hangouts. In fact, Google is even accepting applications from brands that want to be included in their pilot program.

While we await details on Google+’s business applications, we at ChatterBlast are making some predictions on what Google+ means for the future of social media marketing.

The first impact is on search engine marketing, or SEM. Google owns search. Duh. We can expect that SEM will inherently become more social. As Google+ attracts more users, Google’s +1 search plug-in will only become more influential in how information is provided on search engines. Paying for ads and bidding on search terms may continue to rule for advertisers, (and provide a steady revenue stream for Google), but your friends’ influence will play more heavily than ever before. It may no longer be enough for an advertiser to pay the highest bid on a search term. To be a successful, they may also have to attain a large fan following. It may pay to be popular, after all.

Our second prediction, and this may be a long-shot, is that Google+ will force social media marketers to become completely platform-agnostic. Not by choice. Platforms like Google+ and Facebook Connect are helping online applications become so much more social now that in a few years’ time, all online media will be social media. Every single website will have social functionality, and Google may be the chief provider to make it possible. Think about it. You use Gmail. You own a Blogspot (a Google site). Your website has Google Analytics. If you run a business, you advertise it using AdWords. Most of your online experience and marketing efforts are dominated by Google, and it may all eventually be tied together before you can say “monopoly.”

When all is said and done, both of these scenarios will force social media marketers to become more creative. Social media marketing will no longer mean going through the motions and running a Facebook ad campaign, or posting stale updates on Twitter.

It will require more strategy and savvy to make an impact, and force the industry to return to actual ideas that create successful social media campaigns, not successful platforms. Ideas are at the heart of marketing anyway. To re-phrase a famous Medgar Evers quote, you can kill a platform, but you can’t kill an idea.

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