If you work in marketing or design, or tech or are just an internet groovy-hipster-pioneer-type person you'll probably have signed up to <a title="My Google Plus profile" href="https://plus.google.com/111332898042933577841/posts?hl=en" target="_blank">Google Plus</a> by now. And you'll probably have an opinion on it no doubt. Facebook killer or another <a title="Google Buzz issues" href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8517613.stm" target="_blank">Google Buzz</a>? If you take a look around your Circles (that's Google's neat way of allowing you to 'segment' people and share what you want with who you want) you'll probably notice something: despite Google Plus <a title="25 million users for Google Plus" href="http://mashable.com/2011/08/02/google-plus-25-million-visitors/" target="_blank">having acquired over 25m users in two months</a> none of your friends or family are there. And if they are, they're not doing very much. And guess what, many of them won't be there. Ever. My wife is a teacher, all her friends and family are on Facebook. She couldn't care less that Google Plus has a nicer interface and looks like it's been designed thoughtfully (unlike Facebook). I told her they'd launched games on Google Plus to entice the Facebook crowd. She stared at me blankly and told me to lay the table for dinner. My wife's story is the same as millions of others. Facebook has become their online community, why go elsewhere and be on your own? To them Facebook feels like a completely natural place to share things with the people you care about, because that's where they all are. Google Plus might offer a few extra features, but these things are of no interest to the large majority of Facebook's 750m users who are completely comfortable with the Facebook user experience. So is Google seriously expecting millions of people to desert Facebook over time? Or even use both social networks? I'm not sure, but let's go back to those 25m Google Plus users. Who are they, and can they seriously be called 'users'? <strong>That asymmetric relationship thing</strong> As I see it (and as I mentioned from the outset) these individuals are those you'd expect to see trying out something shiny, new and digital. In the main it's the same bunch of people who first 'got' Twitter and helped shape it into what it has become. Designers, Marketers, social media people, techies and bloggers of all shapes and sizes. Sure there are others, but the ones who are actively posting content seem to fit into those categories. But there's still 25 million of them already. Moreover if we're talking about Twitter, the asymmetric nature of the relationship - which is a little like Twitter - means that you can add people to your Google Plus Circles without being added yourself. In other words thinking about it like Twitter, I can follow someone because they seem interesting or have something interesting to say, but they won't necessarily follow me back. So, why is all of this really interesting (potentially) for B2B marketers more than anyone? <strong>Facebook in B2B</strong> B2C marketers were quicker to take to Facebook because consumer brands realised that their audience was spending a lot of time there. Business brands were initially hesitant because it didn't feel 'serious' and being where people spent their leisure time is not the right fit for business at all. Now these barriers are being broken down to a certain extent - people are online more and more and individuals see far less distinction between their work and leisure time in online spaces. Put simplistically not only do people use the internet in their own time to help them to do their job better, but businesses are alive to the fact that online communities are hugely valuable to their business. <strong>Business pages with built-in Googleness </strong>If, as expected, Google Plus introduces business or brand pages you can expect them to have seemless integration with Google Analytics. That's a very powerful set of data for performance marketing built-in. We know that Google Plus posts will feature in Google searches and there will be integration with Adwords - that all brings SEM/SEO strategies right into the mix. Circles allows you to <a title="Circles in Google Plus" href="http://www.pauleycreative.co.uk/2011/07/are-google-plus-circles-teaching-us-marketers-a-thing-or-two-about-segmentation/" target="_blank">easily segment and separate your contacts</a> not only by friends and family, but by industry and expertise. Add in to all of that integration with Maps and Google Places, recommendations by G+1 and you see a powerful and attractive package coming together for businesses. <strong>But what if nobody's there?</strong> That's all very well I hear you cry, but how can we add people to Circles if they are not even there? Well actually you can do that (and email them links to your content), but that's not really the point. Especially if you consider that you can not only share content to different Circles but also publicly, to the whole world wide web. Put it another way, your Auntie may never be on Google Plus, but she's not on Twitter either. From a B2B marketing point of view that doesn't matter. Consumer brands need consumers, and that's your Auntie, my wife and millions of others. Business brands more and more need to target the influencers and <em>influence the influencers - </em>and actually some of those are already there<em>.</em> And just perhaps Google Plus will become the social network of choice for a lot of those influencers, thought leaders, opinion formers and general business people who have eschewed Facebook as a bit too frivolous and dismissed <strong>LinkedIn</strong> as the place for recruiters and sales people who are tired of cold calling? So to talk of Google Plus as a 'killer' of Facebook is probably wide of the mark. I'm beginning to think it might be more of a Twitter with bells and whistles (but not a killer!). It'll certainly take a while until we fully understand its potential and to see exactly where it fits in the social network landscape - and whatever happens if Google are involved you should ignore it at your peril.
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