Posted May 28, 2013 9:39 am by with 3 comments

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We are approaching the 2nd anniversary of Google+ (late in June). Two years old already? Phew, time flies and it’s so cute and cuddly.

But there are still plenty of questions. The questions are less about number of people who are there and more to do about interaction and engagement. Well, it least it seems that way but if the information from this eMarketer article that focuses on research done by the Social Media Examiner is any indication it could be about what TYPE of people are there.

The following chart shows how SMB’s (small-medium business) view Google+ in the pecking order of social media platforms. If you are Google this should be a pretty serious red flag.

Google Plus and SMB

Of course, this begs the question “Is this how businesses in general see Google+?” I would posit that Google+ is truly valuable to larger businesses. Why? Because they have the resources to take advantage of what Google+ offers a business in terms of its SEO efforts.

Optimizing your Google+ presence can be a boon to organic search results. Most will agree with that. But optimizing your Google+ presence requires the usual resources that most SMB’s struggle with which is people, time and money. SMB’s often don’t do what many see as what is best for them in marketing because they simply don’t have these resources. Sadly though it goes even deeper because most don’t even have the knowledge of what Google+ is and why it can be valuable. Simply knowing what they are missing is the first step.

I wonder what Google has done lately with its special market pushes that were around Google Places? In the past few years markets like Charlotte, NC had community managers put in the city in order to raise awareness amongst the SMB community of these kinds of opportunities to market through Google. There has been little, if any, reporting of the success (or lack thereof) of that program. Since we are not hearing about it I suspect it has gone flat. Would anyone from Google like to fill us in?

In the end, those who market to SMB’s are constantly trying to figure out how to get their attention and let them know what is available to them. Direct marketing to the SMB themselves is not what will work, in my opinion. If Google wants Google+ to get higher adoption and just better recognition amongst SMBs it will have to work with the consultants and agencies that have these businesses’ ears.

Will they? Can they? I am betting on no. There will be talk and great intentions but the resources needed for such a movement (which is what is required, a sea change kind of movement to get traction) won’t be applied. Why? I don’t know. It’s a gut feeling and I reserve the right to be completely worng. In fact, I hope I am.

So do you have an answer to the “How do you truly reach the SMB market?” question? If you do, why not offer it up in the comments to get the ball rolling?

  • backyardmktg

    Interesting. I’m actually surprised that as many as 1-3% of respondents said G+ is the “Most important social media platform”. (I didn’t review the source study but I’m assuming eMarketer’s chart title reflects the question asked). I’m a huge fan of G+ & admittedly less so of Facebook but if asked for the “most important social media platform”, I’d have selected blogging, then probably Facebook. Definitely not G+. I don’t consider the strengths of G+ to be Social – rather, they’re in Local.

    Regardless, I would agree with you that most SMBs don’t know what G+ is. Is it a social network? is it a local directory? Is it the IYPs on steroids? I would expect that if this question was worded slightly differently & and not focused on social media (eg: “which of these tools/platforms is most important to generating leads for your business?”) the results would’ve been quite different, though local search & the service formerly known as Google Places remain relatively unknown to SMBs.

    To your question of how to reach the SMB market, for now Google is pretty clearly betting the integration of G+ and forcing user adoption/enrollment will also force SMBs on board. As you point out, that hasn’t worked well so far but I’m not as pessimistic on the long game there – I’m increasingly impressed with the way G+ integrates everything Google. Might just be wishful thinking though on my part. And speaking of wishful thinking, it would be great if Google would work more with agencies and consultants to help solve this problem.

  • Zac

    I feel the direction that G+ is going is a combination of a directory, a local resource, a review site, and a way for Google to rank things. I personally feel that X number of +1’s does get your authorship more validated. I feel those things are going to rank higher.

    I think just taking a few months to build a following on Google+ will go a long way.

  • Mike Gracia

    I agree with your comment that it’s tough to start with G+ for small businesses. We are getting around the issue in our area by launching a free session for local small businesses, where we get a group of 6 to 12 businesses and in one afternoon help them understand WHY G+ (and G+ local) is important for them, and then help them set-up G+ accounts (then watch their faces drop when we explain the wait for the postcard confirmation!).

    We give them a fact-sheet to leave with that gives some pointers on day-to-day tasks, that they can follow. Some may turn into leads of course, but we don’t really try to sell to them, it’s just good networking in our area and usually ends up being a fun afternoon in the office… a lot of coffee gets drunk 😀