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The Power of a Circle

by Aug 18, 2011, 5:16 am ET

Google+ launched over the summer for individuals, and will soon roll out tools for brands. If you already have a social strategy, you may be shrugging your shoulders or even ignoring this new tool. Because, why is Google+ any different than Facebook or LinkedIn? The answer is as simple as the modest circle.

One of the key differentiators of Google+ is the way you can group people or brands into Circles. This is no different from an individual’s ability to group friends on Facebook. The difference is that on Facebook fan pages or LinkedIn Groups, a brand cannot segment fans into groups. They are all fans. With Google+, a fan is not just a fan. In Google+, a fan can be so much more.

Breaking Down Social Audiences

In the social media landscape there are typically three types of followers or fans. They are: Influencers, Advocates, and Enthusiasts.

Influencers are those users who create content on the brand’s behalf and post to the brand’s social media page. These fans are the rarest in terms of activity of your fan base. To gauge their rarity, look at your own page and see what percentage of people are posting content, asking questions, etc. It is likely less than 2% of your fans.

Advocates are those followers or fans who frequently comment and/or like the content that a brand creates. These fans are more common than influencers. Because the same individuals in this group are repeatedly liking and commenting on content, this group may feel like a larger community; however, these fans are probably less than 10% of the overall audience.

Enthusiasts make up 80% or more of your fans. These are your lurkers. They are people who occasionally check in on a brand’s content. Many times, however, these fans are not seeing the brand’s content in their feed because they are inactive with the brand. And, unfortunately, these are the most passive candidates and are often the most easily disengaged.

In the Facebook fan paradigm, a brand has one message to all these different audiences. Essentially, Facebook is one-size-fits-all communications. And in this age of content is king, herein lays the cavernous difference and potential game-changing difference between Facebook and Google+. In Google+, a brand can share content that is deeply more relevant to each of these audiences. And that is the power of Google+ Circles.

In Recruiting Circles

In the language of social recruiting, these audiences could easily be: Eager, Active, and Passive. On your Careers’ Facebook page, you probably have those eager candidates who are regularly inquiring about the status of their application, active candidates who spend their time on your page liking or commenting on your posts in an effort to be noticed, and the vast majority of the fans of your careers’ page who are passively lurking to learn more about the company, roles, and teammates.

With Google+, you could communicate differently to each of these audiences. You could push more aggressive marketing content to those passive candidates in an effort to drive their application. More candidate education content could be tailored and delivered to your eager and active candidates. And because within Google+ you can create circles within circles, you can segment each of these audiences further into sub-circle,s for example: High Potential, New Grad, or role-specific circles like Accounting, Tech, or Marketing. In theory, you could push geo-targeted, role-specific content to only high-potential passive candidates. It brings content relevancy to social channels where it belongs. It is truly one-size-fits-you.

The chief complaint with Google+ Circles is that they could easily become too cumbersome over time. This is a valid complaint. Complex circles could become a real maintenance challenge, as would the creation of relevant content. However, with any new technology or communications strategy, the ideal entrance into the game is keeping it simple. As time and experimentation with the new tool goes further, the segmentation and communication can become more advanced.

Because not all fans are the same and have different needs from a brand, be thoughtful in how circles are created and maintained. If you are considering implementing Google+ as part of your social media plan, think about how your fans interact with you in the context of some of the business challenges. Are you inundated with resumes? Are people unaware of what is unique about your workplace? How do you sell to those elusive passive candidates? With an eye to your challenges and how your audience wants to interact, create a simple circle strategy that is scalable. And as a new fan interacts with your brand’s Google+ account, be committed to vigilant circle maintenance.

It will be interesting to see how Google+ will impact social recruiting and how brands and employers apply segmentation to the social conversation. But the ability to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time is as powerful as it gets.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.