How the Enterprise Can Use Google+

For the past few days, I’ve been neck-deep in Google+. There’s a lot of potential here for business. Some thoughts, by enterprise function.

Google-plus-icons-620x348 There’s going to be plenty of punditry by the social media echo chamber over the coming days and weeks that will mirror the things we saw regarding Facebook ca. 2007-2009 or so. The summary: the same folks who are doing things to promote their schtick using Facebook will do the same thing on Google+. There will be brand pages and the like, someone will figure out how to do contests, there will be a host of activity metrics (“how many people have added your brand to their Circles?”) and the like. While this area is going to get the most noise out of the gate, this is _not_ where the value is going to be found.

Demand Generation / Leadgen
Here things start to get interesting. Google Analytics already has brilliant tools for tracking things from “first interaction” all the way through the time someone engages in a transaction. If you think you already know everything you need to know about Google Analytics, then it may be time to think again. That’s the state of the art today. With tweaks in a couple of directions, G+ and Analytics start to get very compelling. First off, being able to track posts and their resulting activities in G+ and have those show up in Google Analytics is a no-brainer. Secondly, this starts to really be a graceful foray toward the enterprise side of Social CRM. Today, an organization’s lead generation metrics might stop at “conversions,” where a prospect turns into a customer. With an integration between G+ and Analytics, however, that historical funnel (which oftentimes ends at the transaction) can actually turn into a way to understand the long-term interactions with an individual, all the way from first contact (she +1’d a post or left a comment), through a host of conversations over days, weeks or months, through a transaction, and then *beyond* into ongoing conversations that take place _after_ the transaction. There’s a lot of potential here.

If you’re an HR pro, especially on the recruiting side, the opportunity to set up Circles is a means to connect up with the individuals with whom you’d like to develop a closer relationship is a great opportunity. If you have a number of open positions, you could even set up a Circle for each one, and, as you identify potential candidates for each position, include those individuals in the appropriate Circles as a means by which to start to get to know them better.

Design and Innovation
This is a place where I think Sparks may come in to play, as well as Circles. If there are topics of interest that may spark (see what I did there?) expanded thinking in an area, setting up a Spark for that topic to get an evergreen feed of ideas and inspiration. More tactically, you can set up as wide or as targeted a group of counselors/advisors/folks-to-bounce-ideas-off-of as needed that contains folks from both within and outside the organization. Then, when you have a few candidate ideas to solve a design problem, share the options with that Circle to get feedback.

This one is a no-brainer. Set up a Circle with your customers and prospective customers and partners in it. Call it “Customers.” Check it at least once a day to keep a true pulse of when the individuals who are most important to you are saying. Engage in conversations.

General internal collaboration
I think this is going to be a killer app for the organizations that have the foresight to use G+ in this way. Set up a Circle that just contains the members of your team, or (depending on organization size) perhaps your entire organization. Keep a Hangout open for that Circle for serendipity. Share items and links of _internal_ value that you’ve found externally with that Circle. 

Additionally, you can always choose to _only_ share a post with a single individual, as well as easily fire up a chat session. In this mode, G+ becomes a very viable means of setting up an IM session between members of the organization.

Bottom line
I think there’s a lot here for the enterprise beyond social media marketing. So what did I miss? How else might enterprises use the G+ capabilities as they progress further along the social engagement journey?

UPDATE (7/5/11):

Two related posts:

GigaOm: Why Google+ Could Find A Home in the Workplace

Forbes: GooglePlus, Consumerization of IT, and Crossing The Chasm For Enterprise Social Business


8 Replies to “How the Enterprise Can Use Google+”

  1. Irony is that current enterprise customers of Google Apps can’t use G+ because Google does not allow Profiles to be enabled on paid accounts and G+ requires a Profile.

  2. I’m in the Google+ Beta and finding it a wonderful marketing / leadgen tool!

    G+ makes it easy to connect with leads, reporters, in an authentic way. You don’t just push information, ala Twitter, or connect with people you already know, ala Facebook & to a large extent LinkedIn. You actually form meaningful relationships. I’m looking forward to the potential of G+ in my marketing activities this year.

  3. I disagree with you on using it inside enterprises, maybe in small ones with less than 10 employees. In large enterprises, google plus would need the business context that it does not have. Unless you expect enterprises to start working outside their legacy systems. Collaboration works only in business process context, otherwise people stop collaborating as they do not see the purpose. That is why yammer and such solutions get scrapped after a while as they lack the business context Google plus might be relevant for themselves, let us see how private people adapt it.

  4. The tool is not the problem. The problem is the often inflexible mindset of the enterprise. Google+, like most social networks, can facilitate work; but only when the traditional enterprise stops trying to control their team, and allows their team to fall into a natural order. IMHO

  5. Like Facebook, Google+ can work to the advantage of our businesses – if done right. We’re yet its potential since it is still in its infancy stage. Add in more features, more functionalities, I think this social network will fly.

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