I want to start off by saying that I am a huge fan of Google. I find them to be smart. Incredibly impressive. Google social media, however, was a huge ball drop. Not in the NYE Dick Clark kind of way. I hate that I hate Google social media so much. I’ve seen it go through so many changes since introducing Google+ in 2011. I was a huge fan for years. Google Places and Verified Listings did so much for SEO. Google social media became a heaven-sent tool for digital marketing. So much so that many marketers abused it. With the recent changes over the last 3 years, I can only say this. Google social media is more necessary than it is fun.
Understanding Google Social Media
Google+ (G+) and Google My Business (GMB) are now the official Google social media tools. You no longer have to have a G+ to have GMB. This is a plus to some. What I do like is that GMB is now integrated with your Google Listing. It’s a nice dashboard with your analytics. Your viewers online can now see posts from GMB on your listings. They’ll see this on the right-hand side when searching for you, your address, or local relevant keywords.
Your G+ Page and Profile can now be separate from your GMB. You don’t even have to have one at all now. Most of us do since we had to have one, and we had to verify it for our listing. Many of you may have 2. You made 1 and Google duplicated it for the local listing. Many of you have been through this. I’ve been through it far more than I ever want to again. For a lot of people out there, Google social media became too complex. Went through too many changes. Just kept getting more confusing, and less intuitive to use.
To simplify things, here’s how Google social media is currently working as of right now. Who knows if this will change, how, and when.
Your G+ Page is for your business. You will have followers. Those followers will have access to what you post, much like Facebook or LinkedIn. You can use hashtags (#canigetanamen.) This is where your business will socially engage your audience. G+ Profile, which is a personal page, works the same way. It can now be accessed separately from your GMB. G+ is great for keeping your audience educated and informed. The hashtags give you greater exposure. Leveraging your SEO correctly, you can grow your clickthrough rates significantly.
Google social media allows you to have a Brand Account, which is a business confirmed account. You can access your G+, Photos, Docs, GMB, and more from that dashboard. Your G+ does not have to be connected to your Brand Account unless you want it to be. This is Google’s main reason for the change, according to the reps I’ve spoken to.
GMB is now your Listing, Reviews, and AdWord center. You can manage multiple locations if it applies to you as well. GMB is great for boosting the information local viewers find when they see your listing online. There’s now more information that can easily be seen to the right of the search criteria. The new analytics tools are better too. GMB doesn’t use hashtags and it’s limited in character spacing. You’re also more censored on content type. You may be able to post a meme or image on G+ that you cannot post on GMB.
Page and Account Merging
As of September 2017, you can no longer merge Brand Accounts with Google social media. What a bummer! Beginning in 2018, you could no longer merge G+ Pages. Double bummer. Google will recommend you to keep both but it’s bad for your marketing. You’re splitting your engagement, splitting your exposure. ‘Sharing’ your reviews between two pages. The only alternative is to delete the NON-Verified brand account. You’ll lose any additional pages, content, analytics, etc. It’s just the way it is now with Google. If you stop using a second account or page, Google will delete it themselves, but you’ll get a warning email first.
The main reason that I am so frustrated with Google social media is that Google support has changed. What this means is there is none. No more phone or email support of any kind for G+ or GMB. There’s a G+ Page to get help from the moderators. I’ve used it often to help clients. The most I was able to get was links to old threads on a Google forum with new moderators. As support has changed, our ability to help with Google social media has changed. The less support we can get from Google, the less we can help correct issues, and gain accurate information. It’s now harder for many of us to help our clients with Google social media, but there’s still a lot we can do.
Google social media is still worth using but expect your efforts to be more work. GMB doesn’t integrate with Buffer, Trillian, or Hootsuite so there are more steps. If you find it harder to use, leverage it less. If it’s a breeze for you, use it heavily for SEM (search engine marketing.)
I find it now to be too abstract. My clients find it to be too complicated. Without support from Google, those are pretty tough to overcome. Google tried to fix what wasn’t broken. In the end, I feel they just made it harder. It took 2 1/2 hours of phone calls to 6 departments to learn Google removed the ability to merge pages. The mods on all the forums and help pages didn’t even get that right. This was 3 months AFTER the change was solidified. No, Google didn’t advertise this change either.
Overall, I’d say Google social media is only worth it as long as their SEM and SEO tools continue to be as valuable. As with any platform, know when you need to work through the challenges, and when it’s time to say goodbye. It’s dubious it’s going anywhere, it is, after all, Google.
If you have any questions about Google social media or other social media, Let’s Chat!. I’d love to know where we can help you.