There are many macro-trends affecting search marketers today -- but none so impactful as the socialization of search. When you mention the word “social,” Facebook immediately comes to mind. This is for good reason. Facebook has created an incredible platform of social interaction for its users.
For marketers the implications are more profound. Facebook’s advertising platform is brilliant at creating targeted, captive audiences for marketers and their brands. It is almost the perfect ecosystem for brand marketers to drive brand engagement.
What Facebook has proved is that social-focused performance metrics within the walled garden of Facebook are important and valuable to marketers.
While Facebook has created a platform that is important for brand marketers and is working (successfully) to find its place with performance marketers, Google has always faced the opposite dilemma. The perfect engine that is Google is by definition successful when it quickly delivers relevant results to get users off its Web site. How do you create a social network around that? The answer will decide whether really meaningful brand budgets ever make their way to Google search.
Enter Google+. Google+ already has over 40 million registered users and has over 3.4 billion uploaded photos. Google+ as a social network may end up going the way of Google Wave and Google Boutiques, but I doubt it. Google is investing heavily in its success.
Enter Google+ Brand Profiles
On Monday Google announced the introduction of brand profiles within Google+. This is profound. Its new brand profiles will serve as the both the social hub connecting all aspects of a brand’s presence across the Google product network (+1 button, ads, search, maps, etc.) and the back-end control panel connected to AdWords and Google Analytics. Brand marketers will now be able to connect the dots between Google’s product suite with a potential profound impact for search marketers.
Direct implications for search marketers?
Google will automatically place the +1 button on all paid media as well as natural listings. There is no advertiser opt-out for this on paid search ads. The +1 button appears to the right of the text ad display URL. This real estate in the paid SERPs is valuable. As participation in Google+ grows, activity within a person’s network will begin to appear more frequently in SEM advertising. This explicit recommendation will benefit brands by adding an extra layer of endorsement to their advertising. Marketers will need to start planning for this inclusion as they write copy. +1 activity will also affect quality score for both paid and organic advertising.
Google+ is not Facebook, and marketers should not make the mistake of treating it similarly. Google+ will not replace Facebook. This in not an indictment of Google+ - it is simply something different.
As a marketer, the cost of being a late mover if Google+ is successful is much greater than the work required to embrace a social strategy in their paid search management. Regardless, the socialization of the Web is only increasing and search marketers should get on board.