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Google+ for business: over or under-engineered, but well off the mark.

November 8, 2011

Maybe I’m missing something, but the Google+ business pages seem to be lacking anything of real value or utility to businesses. I mean, I can kind of see how a brand might be able to use them as part of a broader content strategy, but the lack of real utility is scary, given the hype and investment that has gone into it.

Now, I’ve written before about where I think Google is headed with this’baby-steps’ implementation of social commerce technology, but I’m not really seeing anything significant in the Google+ pages that couldn’t be achieved via their existing personal profiles. Surely they could have held off until later to make the next step? Or am I completely wrong, and Google just really doesn’t understand the everyday needs of small business?

It’s also not showing me any indication that Google understands community, or the very real and pressing desire of businesses to extract utility from their every interaction with customers.

Beyond creating yet another customer service channel, I’m flummoxed as to what the real benefit is for businesses to flock onto Google+ right now. The drawcards seem to be:

  •  video hookup via ‘hangout’ with customers (which many companies avoid in order to protect Community Managers, who get lambasted and accused of all sorts of horrible things)
  • Selectively share content (but you don’t get any data about the customers you’re segmenting, nor can you import any DB of existing customers you have)

And, well, that seems to be about it, if you’re just creating a page and following the steps to realise value from a brand page. It doesn’t speak to local markets, doesn’t deliver any real utility, Google still keeps all of your interaction data, and the best you can get fro it, as the social media glitterati will swoon, is ‘an improved relationship with your customers’. Google was once the most innovative of companies, but is slowly and surely losing that mantle, as Eric Schmidt’s letter to the US Senate alluded to the other day.

For a company that hires the smartest of the smartest, as an everyday business person I’m beginning to wonder what the earth would look like if we let the Google engineers design everything…

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