5 reasons to be cautious when using Google+ for business
Google+ has arrived, and while it’s not yet open to the public at large a select and quickly growing cross section of lucky individuals are exploring the fledgling and ambitious social network. What they're finding is a multi-faceted experience that integrates and builds upon several familiar communications tools. Status updates, video conferencing, friends lists and other concepts are remained here. In many ways, Google is seeking to zig where competitors like Facebook and Skype have zagged. This is a network built as a reaction to the challenges and shortcomings presented by those established systems.
As this system has the wealth, prestige and technical prowess of the search giant behind it, the mere existence of Googe Plus demands attention.
So how do you sign up on behalf of your business?
The official word from Google is that you should hold off. I agree. For the official word check out the below-linked video, but there are other reasons you should be cautious.
1. Finding the Rhythms
Firstly, none of us yet know the rhythm of Google+. The most prominent observers and professionals from the social media industry are still themselves just kicking the tires and exploring the possibilities. With Twitter and Facebook we, at the very least, have some consensus on the difference using the tools well and those using them poorly. That's a qualitative observation to be sure, but at least it's something. The crowd has yet to shake out what level of usage on Google+ is optimum and it won't for some time. Your business doesn't need to be that guinea pig.
2. No Metrics (yet)
Speaking of metrics, we have none yet for Google+. While the companies peddling social ranking systems are doubtlessly burning the midnight oil to provide you with your "Google+ Klout," it will be mostly meaningless. If your superior is looking for measurable Google+ ROI you’re going to come up short.
3. No Business Profiles (yet)
Furthermore you’ll want to avoid a common misstep that businesses still take with Facebook. Don't use a Google+ profile that's clearly meant for a person as your business presence. While it may be tempting to create an account who's name and profile picture are your corporate name and logo, you simply can't predict the pitfalls you'll run into down the road. Countless businesses were stuck using personal Facebook profiles in this way, unaware that there was a 5,000 friend limit when they started. When the network unveiled their analytics platform for Fan Pages (where the businesses should have been) those with personal accounts didn't get access to the news toys. It forces them to eventually attempt the awkward transition to the legitimate method, a process that's never clean or easy.
Google has, in fact, stated that they may remove misused profiles outright.
4. Evolution Takes Time
Finally we have to recognize that social networks evolve according to how enthusiasts eventually use them. Nearly every feature of Twitter came about this way. Concepts like the retweet, hashtag and @reply came from the community, not the original business plan. If Google's listening to their users they will likely follow the same path, incorporating good ideas and shortcuts that people create organically. This early in the game those optimizations won't be there.
5. The Urge to Bulk Post
When you are testing out Plus, please avoid the urge to simply copy and paste your status updates from other networks. Given that Buzz, Google's previous attempt at social, was rendered unreadable and useless by brute force Twitter integration, you can be sure that the company plans to avoid that fate this time. We don't yet know what type of community will be established on Google+, but I can assure you they don't want to read your regurgitated Facebook status.
So am I advocating you avoid Google+? Not at all. You should feel free to explore it, just explore it as a real person. You can absolutely use it to leverage your personal brand but avoid the corporate profile until that tool is ready. The game may change quickly at this stage, so your time is best spent understanding it. Don't build a kingdom on a foundation that you're well aware is about to shift.