As Bob Dylan sang, the times they are a-chanin’. In 2012, this was especially true for the SEO and Social Media industry.
Google converted Places to Google Plus Local, integrated Pages and Local listings, launched Zagat reviews, created Communities, and expanded the reach of brand pages. As a Local search specialist, I’m prepared to leave 2012 behind and find out what changes await in 2013. Before I do, however, there’s one last exciting change to make note of this year.
Google Pages Can Now Comment On Posts:
Google announced today that brand pages within Google Plus are now able to freely comment on posts outside of their circles. This greatly expands the reach of brands, allowing them to interact with those who do not already connect with them.
Previously, brand pages were only able to communicate with users who already “circled” them. There are both positive and negative aspects to the change, and small businesses should approach this new skill with great caution. Communicating with customers who have not sought you out runs the risk of turning them off with seemingly aggressive marketing behavior. In this sense, businesses must interact in the interest of a greater conversation, not just blindly pushing their own products or services.
The added reach, however, will make it easier to expand outside of a limited realm. Unlike social media giants Facebook and Twitter, Google Plus does not offer advertising space, making it difficult to get infront of new eyes. Now, brands have the ability to places themselves in a conversation.
Google made the following statement to The Next Web regarding the changes to the sharing capabilities:
“We’re always experimenting with new ways to make the social experience more organic. As such, Pages are now able to comment freely on posts of interest to them. We think this provides a better sharing experience for pages and profiles alike. For example, if someone praises their favorite bakery on Google+, that baker could now say thank you to that customer, right in the stream. Or if someone posts about a customer service issue, that business could reply directly, providing a better user experience.”
It is clear that Google has no intention of slowing its Social Media climb in the future.