Google is an internet giant and social media rules the internet. But Google came to the social media party a bit late ! This is actually attempt #3 for Google in the social media game. (Orkut and Buzz were eliminated). Google+ was launched in 2011 and within a year had 250 million sign-ups ! That’s actually faster than Facebook, which took about 3 years to reach that milestone.
Google+ Isn’t Going Anywhere
Facebook and Twitter dominate the social media scene, but Google+ isn’t irrelevant and it isn’t going anywhere and there’s a very clear reason why – integration. Google has integrated it’s social network into its other services like search and G Mail. There are only so many hours in the day to use social media though, so why should anybody go on Google+ instead of Twitter and Facebook if they have more users ? Because each social network has a different audience and Google+ has one that’s more engaged in B2B than Twitter or Facebook, which are better for B2C. When it started up Google+ had a reputation of being only for tech addicts, while that isn’t necessarily the case these days, there is a lot of following of technical and political interests rather than posting memes and animal pictures. So if your’re let’s say – a marketing service provider – you want to establish a presence where your audience is, and in that case it’s Google+. While Facebook has a bigger slice of the general population – Google+ has a narrower, more focused audience.
Google + Is Unique
Google+ is often described as a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. It’s like Facebook because there is a home page, a stream of posts and you can share content with certain “circles” as Google+ defines them. It’s like Twitter because you don’t have to “friend” users to see their posts. The home page is the core of Google+. When you sign up, you won’t see anything here because you’re not following anybody. If you click Explore, you’ll see options of topics and people to follow, choose however many you like. If you like what somebody is saying you can choose to put them in a “circle”. You can have unique circles and share posts with only that circle, for example “colleagues”, “family members”, “interesting people” and “tech experts” are some circles I have. Unlike Facebook, you don’t need the user to approve you to put them in one of your circles. On my account I follow a lot of technology and business publications like Wired and Entrepreneur. You can’t put these brand pages in your circle, but you can follow them and they will show up in your news feed. When it comes to your posts – you can set which circles can see them and which can’t. If it’s a personal picture for example, you might only want to share it with family members and friends – a private audience. My posts are mainly business related, so I choose the public option so anybody on Google+ can see them.
As with Twitter, aim for quality, not quantity. Whatever your goal is with Google+, whether its to build a brand, sell, or access a community of like-minded individuals, you have to start by establishing yourself as a user of the platform. You can start doing this by building an interesting profile. Think about how you want to be perceived by potential followers or customers for the business profiles. I would suggest starting out by building a circle with people active in your industry and being actively involved in discussions, try to contribute something to discussion, maybe share a link. You can tag other users by typing + and their username. Some of these people will view your profile and if they think you’re interesting or want to know more about your product and see your updates, they’ll put you in one of their circles. You definitely want to be posting interesting and relevant content. If you don’t already have a blog and want to share your content on Google+ and a blog, try setting up an account on the Google-owned Blogger.com.
Networking and Building a Community
Think about how you want to use Google+. You might want to use it to keep updated on the latest techniques, market trends and technology. This type of business intelligence and insight can be extremely valuable. Once you have a decent amount of followers (200+) you might start being invited to events and given the opportunity to become more involved in your industry. Google+ can also be used to build a community focused on your brand or product. Once you’ve established a personal presence, you might want to set up a Google Page. These are essentially the same as a Facebook Brand Page, the key difference is that the posts can be seen by every user through search rather than just your followers. If a user puts your Google Page in a circle, they’ll see your updates in their stream. Google+ users are freer with their followers because of the way the circles are organized and managed. It’s not unusual to see a Google+ user with thousands of profiles in their circles.
Hangouts are one of the best features of Google+. A HangOut is a form of built-in video conferencing that uses algorithms to enhance sound and move from user to user as different people speak. HangOuts are limited to 10 users, so that limits what you can do. In 2012 Google introduced HangOuts on Air – which can be broadcast to an unlimited audience. What’s really cool about this feature is that Google will automatically record the HangOut and post it on YouTube. You can edit the broadcast and publish the recording the way you want it to be seen. So really, you don’t have to have anybody see your broadcast live, instead you can use the system to create a presentation and use YouTube to distribute it. This is big for marketing, training, support and education, there are limitless uses for this feature. You can organize live HangOuts on Events, publish them on Google+ and G Mail and offer access to the recordings for a fee.
The SEO Benefits of Google+
Part of the benefit of any social media activity is the search engine value. What’s the biggest search engine ? Google ! For just this reason, Google+ is worth you spending time on the network, building a community, and exploring its content and features. Google hasn’t said too much about how much Google+ factors into your SEO ranking on the website, but let’s face it, it’s a branch of Google and if the algorithm is going to favor any social network, it’s probably going to be it’s own.
Image Source : Google+