Tech Talk: What does Google’s ‘+1’ mean for your business?

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Google launched their new “+1” feature recently, amid a slew of media fanfare. I bet you all are wondering, “What does Google +1 mean for my business.” And I’ll tell you, but in order for it to make sense, let’s take a step back to get some perspective.

The “old Google” circa seven days ago, had a feature where anyone could click a little yellow star to indicate that they liked something. You could see if your friends clicked the star to indicate they liked something. Also if one of your friends shared a link on Twitter, that activity showed up in your search results. (Note: these features were only visible to users who were logged into their Google Accounts).

So the Google +1 is a migration from efforts that have already been underway at Google for quite some time. In fact, all of the search engines have been trying to figure out how to incorporate social share and “group think” into their search results. Capitalizing on “friends and friend votes” is Google’s approach. For this week anyway.

Who does Google think are my friends?

Basically, Google thinks anyone connected to you on Twitter (if you have a public profile) is your ‘friend.’ Other friends include people you’ve connected to with Google Buzz, and those you consciously add and manage in your Google “+” account. To further ‘friend growth’ Google is actively soliciting users to connect their Twitter account to their Google account.

Why does Google care who my friends are?

In real life, Google’s interested not in who your friends are, but how you behave with them. And the best way to get accurate metrics about this is to have you login to your Google Account so they can ‘see’ everything you do there. So… Google +1 is a tactic to get more people to use their Google Accounts. If more people use Google Accounts, they generate more useable data, and Google makes more moolah, plain and simple.

So how do I use Google +1 to generate revenue for me?

If you use Google Webmaster tools, you will see that Google +1 is already integrated into this tracking mechanism for your Web site, which means you’ll be able to measure your results from this tool (which you couldn’t do with the tools from last week). Adding measurement to the +1 tool makes it a worthwhile tactic to pursue.

Here are some beginner steps:

Connect your Google +1 account to the Twitter account you use to promote your business. If you don’t have a Twitter account yet, now may be the time to get started.

Encourage your employees and customers to “+1” any information about your company in Google, including articles about your company, the company Web site, blog postings that appear in search results, product descriptions that show up in the search results on Google, and so on.

Be polite, and +1 all of your customers as well as your prospects info in Google.

Measure. See if there’s a bounce in sales from the activity, and also keep your eye on Web site traffic. Web URLS with a lot of +1 activity are supposed to see big traffic spikes.

Will this work for B2B and services companies too?

Google +1 was really designed for consumers and those who sell to them, however if a company has a critical mass of professional customers who are willing and able to participate in a public social media voting exercise (hint: this is hard to create) then there’s no reason it can’t work for B2B just as well as consumer marketers.

Good luck out there.

Marci De Vries is president of MDV Interactive, a web consulting firm in Baltimore. Reach her at marci@mdvinteractive.com.