Google+ and What it Means for Brands

Google+ is poised to hit 20 million users by this weekend after officially launching to the public earlier this week. What does that mean for companies in the social media space? Gmail currently has a user base of 200 million users, versus Facebook's 750 million, half of whom log into Facebook at least one a day. While Google+'s growth is impressive given its young age, should brands be bracing themselves for a major transition of platforms? Gossip around tech blogs speak of a Myspace-to-Facebook past, where Myspace users, tired of ad bombardment, transitioned over to Facebook in order to focus on keeping in touch with friends. While the main revenue generator for social networks has traditionally been advertising, that leads us to question the legitimacy of this gossip-will users get tired of Facebook and move to Google+, or is Google+'s current hype merely shiny toy syndrome?

For brands, there may be a real opportunity for smaller businesses with Google+. Anyone who has become an early adopter and active user of Google+ because they were tired of Facebook's growing pains (more ads, spam bots, etc.) and desire a more personal relationship with the user and non-user (businesses and brands) entities they interact with will be the kind of customers to gain. Considering that there will likely be an integration of Google Offers and Google Wallet on the new business platform, the growth of the +1 will be one to watch. Plus, another overlooked opportunity? The Hangouts feature on Google+ that allows for video conferencing for up to 10 people. Imagine if a small business owner can conference with 10 loyal customers to answer some of their concerns and take in suggestions. The customer comment box just got much more interesting.

Google is currently keeping a strict rule against non-user entities creating pages, but have a sign up for when the business platform beta is ready to go.

And for the newbie Google+ user, here's a free cheat sheet.