Google+ and Hotels: What to do?
Bookassist's Paul Ferry talks about Google+ features and what hotels should be doing with the new social platform
Google+ looks like it has been created to compete with Facebook's global domination of social media market. When it first launched Google+ profiles could only be set up by receiving an invitation from another Google+ user but now anyone with a Google account can sign up. Google+ boasts features that are different from Facebook but some features are similar. From our initial impressions, it looks like Google have got the formula right this time around compared to their last failed attempt at social media, Google Buzz. But the correct formula is not a guarantee of success.
Google+'s main features include Hangouts, Circles, Sparks and Huddle, here is a brief explanation of each:
Hangouts allow up to ten people to group video chat and watch YouTube videos. When you start the video, the group chat mutes everyone by default and a ‘Push to Talk’ button lets everyone enjoy YouTube videos and discuss it with comments.
Circles enables users to create mini friend lists within a larger network. Easy customisation of groups with drag-and-drop actions to limit who's updating can be seen.
Sparks lets users organise their content according to their interest. Sparks delivers articles, blogs and other content from the entire web depending upon terms that users enter. They can save terms and return to them at any time when they want to browse new content and they can add circles or individuals to an item to share it.
Huddle allows users to easily stay in touch while they're on the go. Users can text groups of people or individual friends in Google+ Mobile. They can also receive a new message in Huddle, Google+ sends a push notification to their phone.
What should hotels do?
At the moment Google+ is for individual use only and Google are actively shutting down profiles that are being used by businesses or are not the user's real name. There has been an official statement from Google saying that they are currently developing a business account and have been Beta testing it with selected businesses.
So for now, hotels should not create a Google+ profiles, instead they should wait for the release of the Google+ business profile which Google says is coming in the next few months.
Google+ looks like it could rock Facebook's boat due to its innovative and easy to use functionalities. It will be interesting to see if be people will actually stop using Facebook and use Google+ for their social media conversations or they could start to use different services offered by each platform. Figures show that Google+ acquired 20 million users in the first 3 weeks of its full release but a more recent blog article (19th August 2011) stated that 83% of users are labeled as inactive. The lack of user engagement was also an initial problem for Facebook and Twitter.
It will also be interesting to see how they allocate advertising space on Google+, if the advert campaigns can be controlled from Google Adwords or will Google+ have a completely separate advertising platform. Currently there are no advertisements on Google+ in its present state but knowing Google there will be something soon on the horizon. Google have also integrated Google+ users' +1 button activities to display on the user's Google+ profile, very similar to what Facebook already does with their “Send” and “Like” buttons.
Google+ has some great new features but only time will tell the success of Google's latest venture into the social media arena.