Just when you thought you finally had a handle on social networking for you and your business, along comes Google+. While some dread having to learn a new social network, others are excited by the opportunity to explore a new network and its opportunities.
So, first questions first: Why should we believe that Google+ has the ability to succeed when Google Wave and Google Buzz failed? My take is that with Google+, more people immediately recognize the components of a social network as compared to Google’s previous products. Additionally, the number of Google+ early adopters has grown substantially in a short period of time – in fact, it’s the fastest growing website in the history of the internet.
Speaking of early adopters…who are they? They are definitely more than just social media geeks, communications specialists and the tech community. People from a variety of industries, including legal, medical and energy, can be found trying out Google+. Want to see who is on? Check out the directory here. As of mid-August, there were almost 15million users.
How does it work exactly?
Now that you have an understanding of what Google + is and who is on the network, how exactly does it work? Let’s dive in.
Google+ Circles are sort of a hybrid between Facebook and Twitter. Circles allow you to group and categorize people with whom you share and view content. Your friends can see some content, your business contacts other content. You can also have a circle for people who have content you want to see but with whom you don’t share any information, and vice versa. With Circles, information sharing is customized, categorized and segmented. And what’s so great about this? Simple: Google+ allows you to use one network to reach distinct audiences.
With Google+, you can create Hangouts. Hangouts are live webchats and are easy to create and join. In a matter of seconds, you can start using Hangouts for quick meetings or as an alternative to a phone call. You can also use them to catch a friend, client or acquaintance. (Think back to the last time you direct messaged someone on Twitter or Facebook because you knew he or she would respond faster through a social network than by email. It happens more than you may think!)
Google+ has a +1 button, which is essentially the equivalent to Facebook’s LIKE button. When you +1 something, you are telling your community that you like a website, or that your search query produced a good result. So when someone in one of your Circles is logged into his or her Google account and searches for “Mexican food,” he or she will be able to see if you have +1’d any of the choices provided by Google. And…what about SEO?
Another big issue that has come up with Google+: how will it impact search?
I have not seen one definitive article on how the new network will impact search engine optimization (SEO). I have seen experiments where items shared or +1’d extensively have improved the page ranking of a particular article. That said, I’ve also read accounts that remind us that +1’s are only effective when you’re logged into Google and connected to others who have a Google account.
Until the rules are clearly written out for Google+ and SEO, follow the general rules for social networks and SEO:
– Make your content worth reading/viewing
– Make the status updates promoting it worth reading/viewing
– Make it easy to share it on the social network
– Use keywords that your audience is searching for
Can I make a Google+ page for my business?
So far, businesses haven’t been allowed to start Google+ pages, with the exception of Ford. But be ready – that will change soon and when it does, you will want to create a Google+ business account quickly and with purpose! If your company’s other social media pages serve the purpose of recruitment or branding, think of something new for Google+. The business accounts may also have some new, exciting features we don’t know about yet to help you define that purpose.
Obviously, Google+ is a new and hot topic in digital media. Right now, no one has all the answers or completely understands how the network will change the industry. In the coming weeks and months, we will post additional links and news regarding Google+ in our Digital Influence Weekly blog. In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions! We are happy to answer them. And if you’re interested in receiving an invitation to Google+, please leave a request on our Facebook wall or ask us on Twitter. Our Pierponters will be happy to send one your way…and maybe even add you to a circle!