Google+ What’s The Fuss?
On 28th June 2011 Internet giant Google launched their very own social networking site, Google +. Google+ is Google’s latest attempt to get on the social bandwagon after failed services such as Wave, Buzz and Orkut. This time around they may just have a stayer.
Originally launched as an “invite only” service, the platform has grown from 10 millions users (it’s initial user base after two weeks) to 40 millions users (current at October 2011). It’s only early days for Google+ however at the moment, it’s far behind it’s main competitors Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter, who boast over 1 billions users between them, with Facebook out in front with 800 million users.
Google+ provides a clean, fresh, uncluttered user interface which is best described as a mixture between Twitter & Facebook. Users are grouped into Circles which can be a one way relationship based on Twitters Follow/Following model, however the content sharing platform has more Facebook features such as integrated photos, videos, links and the ability to share paragraphs in updates.
Google+ have brought some cool features to the table, however I’m not sure they are enough to get the masses on board and it’s not until that happens that the site will get some traction. The main benefit for Google+ is it’s integrated search feature, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and is one of the main reason I’m encouraging business owners to look more closely at getting on Google+.
Some of the features include:
Circles: Similar to Facebook’s Friends List, where you can group contacts into different circles and hence control the content you view and share. However, just like Facebook’s Friends Lists, it’s a underused feature with most users sharing content to everyone.
Hangouts: A free video chat conference feature which allows groups of up to 10 people to communicate at one time. Can be ideal for internal business conferences or as an alternative to Skype.
Instant Upload: When snapping pictures on your smartphone, Google will store a copy in their ‘cloud’ available for you to access at a later date, without the need to post them to the Google + site.
Pages: In early November Google+ introduced Pages for business. Previously the only the option was for personal accounts in your own personal name, which caused a media frenzy. Currently your business page can only be linked to one personal account making it difficult for corporates to get started, but ideal for the small business owner who can link it directly with their personal Google+ account. Check out my Google+ page and if you want to set up your own here are some instructions.
I’m sure you are asking yourself now, do I really need another social networking site? My answer for this is – It depends – but here are five elements you should consider when making your decision.
1.) Target Market: The Google+ current user base is over 70% males with the largest age group 25 – 34. They are made up of mainly US users, followed by India. Currently there are 1.45% Australians which is roughly 362,000 users. If this demographic is your target market, then YES, you should set up a Google+ account. If not, read on.
2.) Search Engine Optimisation: It’s still early days, however all reports indicate an increased Google ranking for Google+ Profile and Page. Therefore if ranking at the top of the search engine is important for your business, then Google+ may be an option for you.
3.) Page & Profile Link: As mentioned previously, pages can only be set up and manged by one personal profile which can make it difficult for larger companies with community managers and marketing teams. Pages have only been released in the last month and I would assume this would change in the future.
4.) Time: In business time is money and do you really have time to maintain another social media account. I find that many of my clients are struggling to understand Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter and get time to manage them. Before you create your account, determine who your target market is and then find out where they are online. If they are on Google+ then yes, create and manage an account.
5.) Integration with other google services: Are you using Gmail or maybe Google Docs? It’s handy to have only one Google login to control all your accounts and I believe in the future these will all be integrated together.
6.) ‘Average People’: One of the reason why Facebook is so benefitical for business owners is that they have over 800 millions users who are ‘average people,’ such as your mum and dad. And these are the people who are their consumers. It wasn’t until all age groups where represented on Facebook that it truly became a powerful marketing platform. Google+ won’t get this same traction until more ‘average people’ are on board.
So what do you think… Is Google+ worth the fuss?
Natalie Alaimo is a Social Media Expert, Trainer and Speaker. Natalie provides business owners, women and entrepreneurs with straight forward advice on how to build their business using the power of social media and online marketing via a series of live workshops, webinars, online training and do-it-yourself products. Natalie is an International Speaker, a published author and an avid blogger. For more information visit her website Natalie Alaimo and get your copy of her 9 Tips to Social Media Success. Valued at $29.95 but for you, it’s FREE.
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