The social channel had quite a strong start in its early days but never managed to generate sufficient interest or activity to compete with other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. A study from Stone Temple Consulting revealed that 90% of people registered on Google+ had never posted anything on the platform.
The network was due to shut down in August 2019, but a new bug that possibly impacted 52 million users accelerated the process and Google now plans on closing the platform as early as April 2019.
For companies, Google+ was another great way to advertise their business and products, respond to comments and questions, and eventually get some additional SEO juice. Even though the traffic and usage were nowhere close to other popular platforms, it remained a great branding and communication tool.
So, what will happen for companies using Google+ in April 2019?
Google My Business, another product from Google released in 2014, is the perfect alternative to Google+.
Deeply anchored within Google search engine and Google Maps, it displays a brand’s local branches, agencies and gives them the ability to customize their presentation and announce their working hours to make it easy for consumers to find them in one place.
Google My Business is also a review platform for visitors to leave comments and ratings that help them decide whether to purchase from one brand or another.
In a recent study, Nectafy claims that 28.88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device make a call or go to that business within 24 hours. As such, Google My Business is the logical alternative to Google+ since it gives the opportunity to brands to promote themselves while engaging with their local customers.
For a company, it means more visibility on Google Maps as well as on the search engine with dedicated blocks that lead to more traffic and business, but it is also a way to display good customer reviews and encourage prospects to come to the store.
More than an opportunity, Google My Business is a necessity
Since Google Maps allows anyone to recommend and add local stores to the map, a brand that does not actively control its Google My Business account may not only lose sales opportunities but also miss out on bad reviews that would remain unanswered and could harm the brand’s image.
“So the light goes out on Google+, in my opinion, Google is preparing other features to overcome this, especially for businesses. Local SEO is becoming a major challenge for businesses, Google My Business takes a dimension a little more specific. It is a very effective tool for local SEO that allows real optimization of timing, especially for data management. In short, we can say that Google My Business is a must for local SEO for organizations and companies.”
Google My Business is currently the most popular review platform where 44% of local retailers have already claimed their free business listing, before Yelp, Yahoo! Or Bing.
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The only obstacle for Google My Business is the difficulty that may come from managing multiple locations. 57% of the listings are currently managed by the local actors because it would be too complex for the brand to manage all locations remotely. Another 24% of listings are managed by agencies and vendors that need to reconnect with the local actors to get the full story and respond efficiently, adding an additional delay and cost to each review response.
The right approach to efficiently manage Google My Business on a corporate level is to keep the control and visibility of all local stores by using a single Digital Customer Interactions Platform (DCIP) to regroup all messages within a single interface and allocate them to the local agent in charge of responding.
This approach allows the brand keeps control, provides local actors with pre-written templates that simplify the management and harmonize the message and has a global view of the type of reviews being published.