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The third time might just be the charm for Google. After watching its first two social networking initiatives, Buzz and Wave, flop, it looks like the search giant may have a hit on its hands with Google+.

Not surprisingly, brands, many of which have learned to eagerly embrace new digital technologies, want to kick the tires on Google+ sooner than later.

For Google, brand interest has been both a blessing and a curse. The blessing: brands are very active on Facebook, and their interest in Google+ is an indicator of genuine interest in the company's new social networking service.

The curse: it appears Google wasn't really prepared for brand interest this soon and now has to rush to figure out how to let brands in without blowing the brand opportunity.

Last week, Google's Christian Oestlien posted this:

How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands, and we want to create an optimal experience for both. We have a great team of engineers actively building an amazing Google+ experience for businesses, and we will have something to show the world later this year.

Over the next few months we are going to be running a small experiment with a few marketing partners to see the effect of including brands in the Google+ experience.

We’ll begin this pilot with a small number of named partners. If you represent a “non-user entity” (e.g. business, organization, place, team, etc.) and would like to apply for consideration in our limited program (and be amongst the first to be alerted when the business product launches) you can sign up here: http://goo.gl/zq95C

This week, Oestlien posted a note on Google+ indicating that "thousands upon thousands" of businesses have applied to be a part of the pilot.

Clearly, Google will need to balance the need to get things right with the tremendous opportunity it has to get brands invested in Google+ at such an early stage.

Interestingly, Google may be doing brands a favor, and brands that don't get into the Google+ pilot may be the lucky ones. As my colleague Matt Owen recently noted, "it’s simply too early to tell what the platform is or how it will be used once Google opens [the Google+] invitation floodgates." This applies just as much to brands as it does to individuals.

Of course, brands have learned a lot about social media in the past several years, and many will likely be well-positioned to figure out what Google+ means to them much more quickly than they were able to figure out Facebook and Twitter.

But even so, the fastest horse out of the gates doesn't always win the race. Brands that don't rush to jump on the Google+ bandwagon may have to catch up later, but they won't have to risk overinvesting in the service if it eventually hits a wall and fizzles out.

They can also learn from the many mistakes that will almost certainly be made by early adopters.

At the end of the day, brands should consider that their rush to use Google+ could kill the goose that laid the golden egg. It has promise, but it needs time to develop.

Facebook had a lot of organic growth and maturity before it became a real hub for brand activity, and it's worth keeping in mind the possibility that had it been 'commercialized' too early, it may not have developed into the powerful platform for brands that it is today.

Patricio Robles

Published 15 July, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (11)

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saigon

heard a lot about the launch of google+.
mainly, it looks to be a new contestant in the battle against the giant facebook.
but it's still in the initial phase.
although many brands will be likely to shift to this new platform, one must first weigh how different and beneficial it will be from FB

over 5 years ago

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Brennan

If brands are smart they will put more time towards Google+ than Twitter and other social networks/distribution channels excluding Facebook. One of the big reasons I think brands should be focusing on establishing themselves in Google+ is because Google has hinted that sharing within their eco-system directly affects organic search.

over 5 years ago

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Innes

Google + has for sure been the main talk of the moment. What will be most interesting is how well it stacks up against facebook and the other major social media brands which have become household names. What I will also find interesting is whether google may be able to give them a run for their money based on the level of experience they have compared to the likes of Facebook.

over 5 years ago

John Courtney

John Courtney, CEO and Executive Chairman at Pay on Results SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital PR, PPC & CRO from Strategy Digital

"At the end of the day, brands should consider that their rush to use Google+ could kill the goose that laid the golden egg. It has promise, but it needs time to develop."

This is the first time I have heard it recommended that companies should not be early adopters - and we fundamentally disagree! Get in there, play with it, be familiar with it and learn how to use it...quickly!

John Courtney
Executive Chairman
Strategy Internet Marketing

over 5 years ago

michelle carvill

michelle carvill, director at carvill creative

Having played with the consumer version of Google+ - rather than it being a contender to Facebook, I see it as more of a purposeful Twitter list. The circles effectively enable you to segment your audiences and therefore, communicate with them in a targeted way. Much the same as segmenting into Twitter Lists - but at the moment with Twitter Lists you can't communicate into that segment. However, is Twitter missing a trick? As a marketer, my mantra is be targeted. And so if Twitter was to make their 'list' functionality more of a communication channel, then that would take Twitter up a notch. It will be interesting to see the functionality for Google+ for business develops. In a video I watched they talk of integrating the business version with other Google business apps such as Analytics and Adwords. So effectively, a dashboard for managing everything you do with Google. Powerful - however, I'm not sure I'm all that comfortable keeping all my eggs in one basket. I like Google, but having one dominating powerhouse doesn't sit well with me.

over 5 years ago

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Darren Mackintosh

It more likely that Brands want to know what Google+ is capable of and what we have to write the "apps" in.

Facebooks mildly annoying system is starting to wear a little thin, so hopefully Google+ is going to be a breath of fresh air with a more simplistic approach to writing your own content.

over 5 years ago

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Matthias Hoys

I noticed that Buzz is not integrated into Google+. But it's difficult to see any use for it. It will never become the new Twitter.

over 5 years ago

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Matthias Hoys

"not" should be "now" in my first sentence. Sorry about that.

over 5 years ago

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Charlotte Everiss

So far my thoughts on Google+ are that if it is going to be a contender to anything it will be Twitter and not Facebook. It is obviously in its early stages of development too and much of the development will hopefully stem from feedback provided by the trial users at the moment; it would be good to be able to see it linking with other Google applications such as Analytics so that you can see the power of Google+ compared to other social networks. So far it is proving a nice alternative platform to the other networks but missing some vital sharing and filtering components.

over 5 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

John,

"This is the first time I have heard it recommended that companies should not be early adopters - and we fundamentally disagree! Get in there, play with it, be familiar with it and learn how to use it...quickly!"

Companies should embrace new technologies and platforms that have the potential to benefit them.

This said, adopting something before you know what it is and how consumers are using it represents adoption for adoption's sake. Being an "early adopter" in and of itself is meaningless.

Facebook was very popular with consumers for all the right reasons before it become a popular destination for commercial interests. If brands become too prominent on Google+ before the social network has matured a bit, there is risk that they'll impede -- not promote -- its popularity and growth. That's all.

over 5 years ago

Peter Leatherland

Peter Leatherland, Online Sales Manager at Ethical Superstore

I don't see how it could possibly be a bad thing to be an early adopter. Being an early adopter may be a waste of time for platforms that fail (in hindsight) but there is pretty good chance this won't fail, so not getting on it now could be a bad mistake. If you want your brand to appear to be up to date and on the cutting edge then waiting around because something ‘might go wrong’ doesn’t exactly portray this! Far better to do all your learning now while it is quiet instead of going on when it is the premier social network and getting it wrong in front of a big audience.

If they are worried about resource or not understanding the platform then just take it slowly until you do. Most big brands will have people who are experienced with Facebook and Twitter and know what not to do, I don’t see this as being new enough to be a big worry about getting it wrong, similar rules will apply form other social sites. When big brands first went onto twitter/Facebook and made mistakes it was because it was their first attempt at social, this won’t be.

over 5 years ago

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