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Google+ Plus for Contractors



google plus constructionSince its launch two weeks ago, Google+ has added 10 million users and expects to add another 10 million before the weekend.  Unlike Twitter and Facebook, which have both been established social media platforms for several years, Google+ is brand new and is the first real competition for Facebook.  After 5 days of use, my 'circles' are still fairly small, participation and posting is significantly less active than either of the aforementioned platforms, and there seems to be a general confusion of what to do after you get a login. 

And therein lies an opportunity.  An opportunity for someone active in their industry to carve out a big niche before your competition gets on board.  When Facebook first started have 'fan pages', not many companies jumped on board, because Facebook was viewed as something that people use to tell their friends what they had for lunch.  The same people said the same thing about Twitter before it became a legitimate outlet for breaking news and industry specific discussions. 

At the moment, Google+ isn't allowing business pages, but they are allowing businesses to sign up now for when this feature goes live later this year.  This is a feature that Facebook has had for a few years now, and everyone and their brother's companies have one.  On the B2B side, most of these pages are pretty generic, are predominantly 'liked' by the friends of the page's creator rather than customers, clients, and vendors; and after the first month of going live, have very little activity or interaction from people other than the page's creator or the employees of the company.  And almost none of them have converted a sale from their Facebook page.

What I envision the upside of Google's business page to be, is that people searching on Google for a product or service will find your company's Google business page and/or your website.  Either one is a win.  They will find it via a search that recognizes keywords and terms that aren't identical to your company name the way that Facebook's search does.  In an industry like construction, I'd be surprised if a project owner or homeowner goes to Facebook prior to Google when researching a GC, subcontractors, material suppliers, etc.   (my rose-colored glasses aren't thick enough to think that they won't go to their existing networks of humans prior to searching the internet...but I digress)

The other upside I see, is that many companies block employee access to Facebook.  If all your online marketing eggs are in the Facebook basket, how is a project manager, CEO, CFO, or other important decision maker going to find you?  They won't.  They'll find your competitor that has a Google business page and a website that is indexed by Google.  As time goes by, Facebook will still lead the B2C side of things because people follow and support local businesses that promote deals, coupons, special events, etc.  I believe Google will be the differentiator for professional services and big-ticket transactions. 

Before writing this post, I reached out to a few friends who are early adopters of new technology (the kind of people who camp out at Apple stores).

A few comments that are relevant to this post:

--Our company had us all get Gmail email address so we can utilize the Gchat feature for interoffice dialogue.

--We already do teleconferencing, and the Hangout feature's ability to have 10 people/cameras on a call will save us $$ on IT

--Facebook is blocked at my work, Google is not

--G+ is a fresh start.  It's much easier to segment my contacts than it is on Facebook

This platform is brand new.  Google has a track record of failed launches (Google buzz, Orkut, Google wave), but has had recent success with Google Music and the initial reaction to Google+ has been positive.  Like any new technology, it will have detractors and people who refuse to spend the time to understand it or will wait until everyone they know is on it.  In the long run, I think this platform would be worth betting on.  Especially if you are a Business to Business company.

If you've got any thoughts one way or another, I'd love to have a conversation with you about it.  Please post in the comments below or look me up on Google +.  If you're already on Google + and liked this post, please click the +1 button at the top right of this page.

About the author:

Dan Phelan runs the marketing department at Construction Risk Advisors when he's not out helping his clients with risk management and insurance issues.  If you want to connect on twitter, he's at @fixyourrisk, here on Facebook, and at on Google+

dan phelan litchfield insurance group

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