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Google +1 for Small Business

This past week, Google announced that it will be releasing a new social component, to amplify its existing search algorithm. The gist is this: I can place my stamp of approval on any search result by clicking an addictive +1 button that shows up next to it. In order to do so, I need to have a Google profile. The consequences of this innovation will be substantial.

According to Mashable, this stirs up the Facebook – Google rivalry just a tad. Google will gain profiled users, also gathering data for ad targeting and therefore ad revenue. With this release comes the introduction of a widely respected, now socially driven, search and recommendation engine.

For small businesses and professionals, what exactly might this mean? Well, before would teach clients how to properly enter the Facebook community. Put simply, users on Facebook didn’t, and still do not, want to be yelled at in their own backyard by egotistical companies or brands. It takes consistency and relevance to build affinity in that space.

With Facebook, it was a search result trying to penetrate an already trusted space. That is, you wouldn’t search for “button down shirts,” then have “Brooks Brothers” come up as a result (unless you searched on Google). Now look at it the other way around; Google +1 takes a trusted atmosphere where users are searching for information and adds personalized recommendations, built right into your search results. The social graph is probably more important in this environment, where a brand is potentially acquiring a new user. There is some real value, in terms of trust, that Google+1 builds into a search result. Of course, +1 stamps of approval haven’t been entirely embedded within the algorithm, not until Google learns more about the feedback the product will generate. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to be ahead of the curve.

I ask the question again; which might be more beneficial for professionals and small businesses, the Facebook “Like” or the Google +1? Depending on the strategic goals of the business, it is important to differentiate which of these points of advocacy will be more practical. From a purely CRM approach, the answer is obvious. To get new customers, well then things get hazy. Having a clear strategy in social media, a strategy that the entire organization can speak fluently, is becoming a crucial component of successful growth. These are only two of the many tools available, which are leveling the playing field for businesses large and small.

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