by Michael O'Neill
July 16th, 2012

When Google finally launched Google+ brand pages for companies, there was a virtual land grab, with many companies immediately building pages and filling them with content. But is your brand ready for Google+?

I’m a huge fan of new social networks and technologies, including Google+. But I’m also a realist. The last thing I want to counsel my clients is to follow a bandwagon off a cliff, join a party without any party goers and a host of other bad social media metaphors. It got me thinking, when shouldn’t a company jump into this new, exciting social space?

Here are three things to consider before registering a Google+ page for business

1. Do you have a content strategy? Unlike the diaspora that resulted from brands leaving MySpace to Facebook, companies won’t be quitting one social network for another. Ask yourself, how strategically are we managing our website, Facebook, Twitter and other online community content? It’s difficult to build another house when you can’t pay the mortgage on the one you have. How does yet another destination fit into our common ground strategy in meeting business objectives? How will we measure success?

2. Do you have a community manager? Although it’s becoming more and more common to outsource community management, a brand’s fans, friends and followers still expect brands to engage knowledgeably on their respective channels. Ask yourself, who is going to post content to our new Google+ Page? Who will respond to incoming questions at 8pm? Do we need to add staff? If you outsource, does your contract allow for another channel’s increase in resources?

3. Is your audience on Google+?: Despite a robust total of 40+ million users, you’ve probably seen the naysayers bashing Google+ for its low utility and mainstream adoption. Like Twitter, Foursquare, Quora and others, new social networks tend to attract early adopters and don’t always readily solve an apparent problem for new users. Google+ isn’t Facebook. But at one time, your customers didn’t get why they needed to be on Facebook and neither did brands. A long way of saying, don’t rush in without #1 and #2 just because you think your customers are clamoring for your Google+ page.

So again, I’m not saying don’t join Google+. In fact, Weber Shandwick specifically took these factors into account as we launched our Weber Shandwick Digital Google+ page.

I think every brand who can map a new social network to measurable objectives should absolutely pursue destinations where they will be successful in meeting those objectives. Plus (pun intended), jumping in early will surely net “innovator” and “early adopter” status for brands.

Avoid building a channel today that will sit dormant a month from now. But if you think strategically and for the long-term, it’s +1′s all the way down.

Greg Swan is vice-president of digital strategy at Weber Shandwick

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