Google+, a 7-year effort to upend Facebook’s dominance in social media—has officially been declared dead-network-walking. Over 10 months, Google will slowly shut down the service for consumers and provide instructions on downloading and migrating their data—though it’s unclear where they would migrate it, with the service going away. But it’s important to note that while details are limited at this time, the announcement does specifically tell us that the consumer version is what is going away entirely, but Google+ will continue as an enterprise solution for business use. Specific mention is made of a “secure corporate social network” (an odd statement in light of the shutdown being driven by the disclosure of a security vulnerability), so it’s possible Google+ may morph into more of an internal tool rather than a public-facing platform. It’s likely more information will soon be forthcoming, but in the meantime we find ourselves facing a ticking clock and one big question: “What do businesses do with Google+ now?”
Business as Usual
If you already have an existing Google+ brand page alongside (or instead of) a Google My Business listing, the carry on with business as usual. In the short term, nothing should change, and even as personal profiles go away, your business pages are public and another useful social connection to your company website. No need to do anything different (at this time) if you’re all set up and using the platform.
Set Up that Profile—and Consolidate Your Google Properties
If you don’t have a Google+ page for your business, go ahead and set up that profile. There are a number of benefits to using the platform in its current state, and even if the business version goes the way of the dinosaur there’s no major downside.
- If you have a local business (one or more locations), set up a Google My Business account and a listing for each location. This will get your business listed on Google Maps (and you’ll control the content). It will also make it possible for customers to leave reviews about your business.
- In your Google account, activate Google+ for the business, which will allow you to post content, business photos, links to your website and other profiles, and engage with any activity that occurs around your brand.
- Consolidate all your Google properties around a single account. Years ago, Google services were standalone, so if you’ve had some accounts for a very long time, it may be time for an account inventory and cleanup. However, most Google users will have the combined accounts that were “forced” on them when Google+ became the gateway. That move was recently rolled back, primarily because it signed up all Google users for just about everything they offered, whether they wanted it or not. But the rollback also made it a little more confusing, and easier to end up with your Google services once again scattered across a number of logins. So doublecheck your accounts and make sure that your business account, Google+ profile, and any other company accounts (G Suite, YouTube, Ads, Analytics, etc.) are under the same main account, with additional users, managers, or agencies added according to best practices.
Publish and Engage
As a service owned by Google, Google+ offers an advantage no other social network can claim, even if it has often been called a “ghost town”: search engine indexing. Public posts are indexed in Google’s search engine, so whether businesses share text, images, or links, all can be found both on the platform and via a normal Google search. So by all means—continue (or start) to publish high quality content and engage with users (for as long as possible).
Stay Informed with Google and Your Marketing Partner
Since the announcement is so recent, the change so significant, and the details so scant, it’s reasonable to expect that there will be important information shared in the coming months. It’s also likely that unexpected changes to the enterprise version will be announced before long. Keep up with Google’s blog for more information, but you can also rely on your internet marketing partner(s) to help you stay effective and competitive as you use Google’s products and other platforms across the web.
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