Your Google+ Strategy Calculator
originally pubished in MediaPost's Social Media Insider
When brands are invited to participate in Google+, it's going to get weird. Marketers will face challenges they've never had to deal with before in social media. Without knowing specific details of what Google+ brand pages will look like, enough of the variables are known so that you can create a formula that works for you. Here's a primer.
Addition: The biggest change marketers will encounter is the addition of search engine optimization to their social media strategies. Yes, I know social media optimization has been around for years, but it's had a relatively minimal impact on community management so far. Just look at Facebook's one-pager on SEO; it's using best practices established a decade ago. That will change as Google incorporates users' +1 activity to further refine, reorder, and personalize search engine results pages. Marketers focused on SEO who never cared about community management will evaluate the opportunity that Google+ presents. This is a major shift, and it's quite possibly the most significant change to community management since the practice as we know it was founded in the past decade or so.
Multiplication: The challenges of managing communities on Google+ are bound to multiply. Is it a community with SEO benefits, or is it SEO developed through community engagement? What if it's both? Imagine if every status update from a brand will require both a community manager and an SEO manager working together to optimize each word. Like any dance, someone will have to lead.
Division: Get ready to divide and conquer. What will the division of labor look like? Some of it is clear up front, with SEO leads best suited for organizing the overall structure of the page, and community managers owning day-to-day posts and interactions, ideally with training and regular review from the SEO team. It won't always be clear, though, especially for some SEO-driven marketers that are laser focused on +1s and don't care about any of the other benefits of relationship building.
Subtraction: It's time to subtract silos from your community management. This is a classic case of addition by subtraction, as your social program should wind up stronger when SEO experts are involved. How many other silos can you subtract? Who else in your organization isn't yet benefiting from what you're doing on the community front?
Geometry: Marketers will have to understand Circles inside and out. The biggest question marketers will have is how well they can create Circles of consumers to target them specifically. Ideally, some Circles will be auto-generated, such as Circles of people by geography or age, since Google encourages users to create rich profile data.
Trigonometry: Trigonometry is the study of angles. Marketers, what will be your angle on Google+? What will make you stand out from every other brand page? What value will you provide? You'll need your own angle going into it, but you can also triangulate some aspects by plotting your positioning in conjunction with Google's offerings and what your fans respond to.
Calculus: I don't remember much about calculus, largely because once math started dealing with imaginary numbers, I found it very hard to pay attention. Aren't real numbers confusing enough? Marketers will become well acquainted with imaginary numbers when they start operating on Google+. What do all these +1s mean anyway? When top brands start getting added to the Circles of more than one million people, how will that help the overarching strategy? As a marketer, you should pressure Google and your agencies to figure out why this matters for you.
Chaos Theory: I can only predict so much. A safe bet is that when SEO starts driving social media strategy, brush up on chaos theory -- because anything can happen from here