Google+ is using some of its oldest marketing tricks, and some surprising new ones, as it battles for social supremacy.
“This is a very small team but we have the benefit of Google’s existing marketing resources,” a Google spokesperson (they ask we don’t use their names) tells VentureBeat. She says the company won’t go into specific strategy for their new social network, but says there will be lots of experimentation. She points to the fact that Google+ is still in a field trial. “We expect new features to roll out on a frequent basis.”
Also rolling out on a frequent basis are Google+ growth statistics. This week comScore announced Google+ became the fastest social network to reach 25 million unique global visitors. Google+ launched just over a month ago, and has outpaced the early growth of MySpace, Twitter and Facebook.
Google also announced the service reached 10 million members in mid-July. Impressive, but consider Facebook’s 750 million active users. Google+ has a long way to go, and yet there’s pressure to get there fast.
Google’s company-wide bonus payment strategy is based partially on the success and failure of Google+. While employees will receive their yearly bonuses, 25 percent of the payments will be determined by the state of Google+. Money is on the line, and so is Google’s reputation. The pressure in on, so how is Google+ responding? Here are five key marketing strategies the company is using.
Reach out to middle America.
This weekend you can see bands Ok Go and Ratatat on the Google+ stage at Chicago’s Lollapalooza music festival. There’s also an activation area where attendees can learn more about Google+.
“Having a stage is a great way for brands to get exposure in a trusted environment, at an event that fans have chosen to attend,” says a Lollapalooza spokesperson. “We have 90,000 active music fans that will attend each day during the weekend, with a total of 270,000 fans.”
Going for a cross-platform marketing strategy, Google will also be streaming the event on YouTube.
However, there won’t be a Google+ stage at San Francisco’ Outside Lands music festival, coming up August 12-14. While the festival’s 55 percent female attendance would be a good demographic for Google+ to reach, it’s taking place in Google+’s backyard. Everyone in San Francisco already knows about Google+.
Let them speculate.
SocialStatistics currently reports 86 percent of Google users are male. Thirteen percent of users are female (1% are “other”).
That prompted an avalanche of stories on Google+’s gender gap. Business Insider predicted “Google+ will eventually fail unless it attracts something it doesn’t yet have: women.” Jolie O’Dell wrote about it at Mashable before joining VentureBeat. M.M. Faulkner wrote an in-depth post on the Google+ gender gap on her blog payattentionpeople.com. She pointed out the lists of groups available on the network, including the list of “googlers on google+.” There was also a list for “women on G+.” That’s a pretty solid indication of how few women were on there.
Google didn’t bother soothing gender discrimination fears. It simply declined to comment on the trend, and let the chatter continue. Today a search for “Google+ gender” reveals 500 articles. No sense in stopping a conversation when everyone is talking about you.
Test and measure everything. Larry means it.
Thomas Korte left Google in 2009 after seven years at the company. A former product marketing manager, his knowledge of the company’s current marketing strategy is somewhat dated, but he says some things will never change. One of those is analytics.
“Marketing at Google is extremely analytical: If you can’t measure it and show that it works, Larry [Page] will not approve it,” says Korte in a VentureBeat interview. “He hates ‘marketing’ and the only way to convince him is with hard numbers.”
Korte says every marketing tactic has been tested before it rolls out broadly. It first needs to be approved by Google CMO Lorraine Towhill, with whom Korte worked closely in 2003 to 2004.
“People say, ‘oh, Google doesn’t to marketing.’ This is not at all the case,” says Korte. “Google has refined it to a science! They know what they are doing, and only work with the best. If they have something that works, they go crazy.”