“Google+” (pronounced Google Plus) and “+1 button” are gaining quick momentum in the social media arena. In just a few weeks, over 20 million users have already signed up for Google’s new services. The best thing about these programs is that they are FREE opportunities to help your hotel or other hospitality business make more money and improve website rankings!
Although premature to predict what long-term impact the Google+ program will have, it might just give Facebook a run for the social media money. This article will explore what hotels and resorts should know about Google+ and +1 button and how your business can take advantage of Google’s latest creations.
How is Google’s social media platform different from Facebook and Twitter?
Not being first to market this type of program has its advantages. Apple has had proven success by outflanking Microsoft and the PC world after listening to what people really want and then producing highly innovative goods and services. With that strategy in mind, Google has paid attention to what people don’t like about Facebook. In Facebook, it is typical to have hundreds of “friends,” even though they could be people you don’t communicate with regularly, or even share the same interests. At first glance, Google+ appears to be designed to make social media interaction more intuitive and streamlined than Facebook.
In Google+, as a way to more efficiently share information, Google has created a concept known as “Circles.” These are groups of friends that share common interests, and who can endorse things that really matter to each other. In essence, because the people you add to your “Circle” are selected for a reason, the things that are endorsed by people in the circle are more likely important to other circle members. In part, Circles are initially created based upon which email addresses you allow Google to include. Circles can then share a variety of website content and endorsements. You can also separate Circles when it is not appropriate to share information to that particular Circle group. Unlike Twitter, which imposes text character limits, Google+ Circles allow members to share more text information as well as include full size images.
Another interesting Google+ project feature is a concept known as “Hangouts,” which are group video chat invitations. Hangouts allow you to inform specific buddies or entire Circle groups (up to 10 people) that you are available online to chat. By clicking the “Join this hangout” button, selected members or groups can video chat online for free. To stay current with the popularity of video chats, Google’s plan with Hangout is to make chats an easily accomplished part of our everyday lives.
It should be noted that Google+ is still in beta testing (August 2011) and you must be invited to currently participate. Conversely, Google +1 is active and you may take advantage of using it now.
What is the Google +1 button?
The +1 button is similar to the “Like” feature in Facebook, and overall, the +1 button allows you to let someone know about something that has your stamp of approval. Currently, only individuals can sign up for a +1 button, but in the near future, Google will allow businesses to obtain a Google +1 business account. Until that is available, businesses can display +1 buttons on their website and also use +1 icons in pay per click ads. Eventually, Google plans to extend +1 usage to its mobile marketing offerings.
How does Google +1 button work?
If you are signed into a Google email account, you will be able to see photographs of people who have endorsed the content, for example, next to pay per click ads, organic search results, or on individual website pages. Google will allow the +1 feature to be available to people who do not even have Gmail accounts. Other email accounts can be used to access the +1 feature.
When you are using Google yourself, you will be able to click on a +1 button to add your endorsement to a product or service; this will add to any +1’s already endorsing that product. Although your own +1 is public to the world, Google examines your list of social connections (through your Google chat list, Google Contacts list, Google+ Circles) to see who could most benefit from your +1’s and also whose +1s are useful to you. If you are not logged into a Google email account, you will not see specific individual information. You will just see the aggregate numbers of people who clicked on the +1 button for a specific entity. You can also +1 something with any email account other than Gmail.
How hotels can benefit from using Google +1.
Google is making it clear that utilizing a+1 button on your website will improve your organic rankings. Therefore, RezStream recommends adding +1 to your website. You can place the +1 icon near your other social media icons. Also place it near your key products and on your blog pages as well. The important thing to remember is to position the +1 icon near any content you wish viewers to endorse. Make sure you also employ a +1 button that has a number counter. Finally, the +1 icon can cause website pages to load slowly, so make sure your Webmaster uses Google’s asynchronous icon option.
Google Analytics and social media tracking.
Google Analytics has also introduced a new social media module. Don't forget tohave your Internet marketing agency activate this feature to takeadvantage of data collected from Google +1. With this new option from Google Analytics, you are able to track gender anddemographic information, which helps further refine your marketingobjectives. You may also view +1 data within Google’s Webmaster Tools.
Play by the rules.
Don’t think you can fool the master! Google +1 has sophisticated tools built inside its working mechanisms that will show if people aretrying to artificially inflate their number of +1 clicks. Don't hire a firm thatpromises to increase your +1 click numbers. Your business still needs to earn its kudos the oldfashioned way, by real and actual endorsements! As mentioned in an earlier section in this article, pleaseimplement the +1 button correctly on your website.
Google+ and +1 button summary:
Google+ might just change the way people experience social media marketing. Until Google+ is fully released and studied, RezStream will reserve comment on that claim. However, Google’s +1 button feature is an interesting new offering from Google that is generating lots of interest. It is important that hospitality businesses of all sizes take the initiative and utilize this new feature on their websites. As more data and information becomes available, RezStream will continue to inform its readers about how Google+ and +1 is impacting the social media landscape.
About the Author:
Bill Mitchell is Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for RezStream, located in Denver, Colorado. RezStream sells reservation software, online reservation booking engine services, Global Distribution System services, custom website designs, and flexible Internet marketing plans to businesses of all sizes in the hospitality industry.