After a bit of playing around with Google+ I thought a quick post was in order. Not a post about how good it is now – it’s not that good because brands aren’t yet on it, and people aren’t yet getting the most out of it – but a post about how good it’s going to be. And how big a threat to the corporate firewall.
Many people have been quick to fawn over the functionality of G+. Indeed, it takes the best bits of Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Stumbleupon and search, and melds them all together in one product. A product that takes significant amounts of time to set up effectively. But a product which is built bottom up because it’s borne out of an organisation which has had more than it’s fair share of run ins with regulators – and unlike Facebook – has learned from them.
But we’ve yet to really see Google+’s real game-changing functionality. How it’s going to be tweaked and adapted for corporates.
Yes, Dell are already (although slightly illicitly) using G+’s video hangout functionality for customer service, and Ford have got the only authorised “test” corporate account, but most organisations, including thousands of frustrated Google Apps users like me, won’t be able to use G+ for a month or two yet as Google put the finishing touches to the product.
But when it is rolled out, here are a few predictions of how it will be adapted.
- Social CRM will be baked in. The concept of circles is staggering in its simplicity. The ability to send different messages to different groups of people (from super-advocates or different cohorts of customers to prospective employees will soon become the centrepiece of many organisations’ Comms campaigns. It will certainly give email-based CRM programmes a run for their money.
- Google Analytics will be baked in. Exactly the same tools which millions of web masters already rely on, will be embedded in a corporate-owned social network, providing instant read-across showing exactly which pieces of activity (paid search v social links) generate the best ROI. (Of course, in the short term this might harm Google, as people shift budget from search to social, but in the long term it keeps people on the Google-owned platforms).
- Customer service via video hangouts will become second nature. It will be resource hungry, but effective.
- Organisations will have to rewrite their social media guidelines. Facebook’s sharing functionality undoubtedly acted as a catalyst for generation Y’s increasing willingness to share, and despite Microsoft’s best intentions, Sharepoint just doesn’t cut it. G+ makes it so easy to share work things with colleagues and groups of colleagues via a non-firewall-protected message, that it’s going to be increasingly hard to stop people doing just that.
- From an individual’s perspective – Why should I bother with email when I can use circles? That way everything I share will be relevant and nicely searchable.
- From a company’s perspective – How can we get around the fact that employees will be distributing sensitive information via an organisation which makes its money from serving ads based on the keywords it sniffs as it distributes that information.
- Google Plus will be wrapped up within Apps as a highly tempting solution for organisations. Building a firewall-protected version for corporations to deploy has to be on Google’s agenda, surely.
I could go on. But I won’t. Not here, anyway. But I will return to the subject in due course – if only to see how many (if any) of these predictions come true…