Google has launched Google+ (Plus), a new social networking site that directly competes with Facebook. While it’s new and just getting started, it has the potential to change the social media landscape. Here’s a first look at what Google+ is like and why is may become important for your business in the future.
- Before You Start: You use social media for your business, or you are considering using social media.
- Learning level: 1 | Social Media Basics
- Article Last Updated: Friday, July 15, 2011
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On June 28, 2011, Google launched its new social networking site, Google+. It’s getting a lot of attention from geeks and people who like to be on the leading (bleeding) edge of technology. But what is Google+? And what impact will it really have on social media for small businesses?
Let’s dig into that.
Facebook + Twitter = Google+
Google+ is the first new major social networking site in a few years. It’s a lot like Facebook where you connect with people and share updates, photos, and links. It’s a little bit like Twitter where you post and read quick updates from people you follow and you don’t need their permission to follow them.
One of the valuable features is that Google+ allows you to integrate with other Google services.
- If you connect your Picassa web album to Google+, you get free unlimited photo storage, which could threaten Yahoo’s Flickr service.
- It integrates with Google Docs making it easier to share and collaborate writing and reviewing information.
- There is no private message service. Instead, Google links you to other users through email (Gmail) and lets you send emails to people in your network without revealing the recipients email address.
It has a great live video chat feature, Hangout, that allow many people in the same chat room that could really hurt Skype.
As I’m writing this (July 4, 2011), there’s a app for Android phones, but an iPhone app is expected soon.
Connections and Privacy
One of the most interesting features of Google+ is its circles. Youconnect with people you know by assigning them to circles. You start off with a circle for family, friends, acquaintances, and people you follow. It’s easy to add a new circle (co-workers, peers, clients, bowling team, etc.).
You assign people to a circle by dragging a image of their face with their name into the circle. It’s actually easier and more fun than making a list (Twitter) or individually marking people in a group (Facebook). People can be in more than one circle.
The best part about circles is that they control your privacy. Want to share a picture of your family with family and close friends? Only update to those circles.
It’s also easy to add your location to an update. That’s great for when you want to share geography. It’s equally easy to remove your location. If you are using a mobile device and turn on your location, Google+ automatically creates a nearby users circle based on your current location.
Google+ For Business
There are rumors that Google plans to add business pages to the service later this summer. This would give businesses yet another major social media site to build and maintain.
While Google+ doesn’t have the membership of Facebook, if it takes off, being on Google+ could be as valuable as being on Facebook in the future.
Why Google+ Is Important
Google is the leader in web search. For more than a decade, their analysis of what’s important and relevant has driven the way websites are created and given birth to an industry of people who are experts are getting your site placed high in search results (SEO).
Things have change in the last few years. The website or blog page isn’t the only way we share information. Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, we now share smaller, bite-sized bits of information. Status updates are just as important as blog posts but they are not fully integrated into search results.
Now that Google+ is collecting status updates and other bite-sized bits of information, it’s not hard to imagine that the smart folks at Google will figure out how to integrate your status updates with your blog posts and website pages into search results. That will be groundbreaking. My friend, Jay Baer, explains this very well in his blog.
It’s not surprising that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is actively checking out Google+.
What To Do Now
Time will tell how important Google+ will become in social media, and how it will co-exist with other major tools. It’s not possible to create a business presence on Google+ today.
Invitations to Google+ were hard to get in the first few days, but have been easier lately. If you get a chance, snag one. It’s worth checking out.
Here are my recommendations:
- Start using Google+ personally. That’s the best way for you understand its features and how it integrates with other services. Then, when business pages become available, you’ll be better prepared to decide if your business wants to include Google+ in your social media presence.
- Add the Google +1 button to your website and blog now. This feature is similar to the Facebook like button. It’s a way for people to say that they like your business and your content. There’s a whole section in each Google+ profile to list the things you +1 online.
However, the +1 button is more important than just for Google+. Google is now incorporating the +1 button to search results, and some people expect that Google will soon incorporate +1 into its search results ranking. In other words, having people +1 (like) you blog and site could impact your search results in the near future.
My site runs on WordPress, and there are several +1 plugins available. I’m currently using ”WordPress Google +1 Button” if you trying to decide. So far, I like it.
Stay tuned for more information as Google+adds new features and starts reaching a larger audience.
Your turn: Have you tried Google+? What do you think? How do you see this tool helping with your business online presence? Share your insights and experience here.