Is It Hip to Be Square?

G+ for Business

The great debate is upon us thanks to the launch of Google+ for Business. From Jim Long’s social media survey to Debra Askanese’s well debated post on Google+’s benefits and detriments, voices across the web are debating whether it’s hip to be Square (Corporate brands are denoted by squares on Google+).

The reality of the situation is even from a simple brand reputation standpoint, it’s time to get your square and protect your brand integrity. The last thing you want is someone else owning your brand on Google+! What if it actually takes off? Or worse, what if an unforeseen blogodrama savages your brand reputation on Google+?

Beyond that, there is the very obvious search value of being on Google+. Pete Cashmore said it best, “Now those little +1 votes being cast around the Web are starting to change the order of Google’s search results, helping to keep Google in line with the social trend.” And if your content isn’t integrated with +1 technology, you are hurting your organic search possibilities.

In fact, Google is actively redeveloping its entire ecosystem to revolve around Google+, as Google Reader users can attest to. The only way to natively share outbound posts beyond email is Google. This integration is systematic, and we are seeing the next generation of the online behemoth evolve before our eyes.

From a strategic communications perspective, Google+ is real hit or miss. It is still an early adopter’s social network, with testosterone driven techies riding its ether waves. Most mainstream brands will find the network wanting. Further, if you want to market towards the “Mommy Tsunami,” the demographics are generally not skewed well.

Additionally, real advertising on Google+ remains in the wings and the application programming interface (API) is still read only. Right now the only Google+ business offering is a participation game with a profile. You have to connect with people, which means your brand has to invest the time to build relationships and cultivate a following. Otherwise, you will be posting in silence.

But, all things in consideration, it is time to stop experimenting and at a minimum set up a business outpost on Google+. It may never beat Facebook, but Google+ is unlikely to fade into the night the way Buzz and Wave did. The last thing you want is to be caught with your pants down on a social network. Just like other networks, own your real estate, and take advantage of the search benefits Google+ has to offer.

What do you think of Google+ for Business?