Google Plus has earned a reputation as a social network that you ‘should’ use because of the relationship between their Plus and Search products. However, I want to make the case that Google Plus is actually a valuable social network that you can genuinely appreciate on its own merit.
I won’t deny that content published through Google Plus does appear more favorably in search results. But, if you came here intending to learn how Google Plus improves SEO, you might be a bit disappointed. You should use social networks to connect with your audience make it easy for them to communicate with you and Google Plus offers greater benefits beyond search engine visibility.
Google Plus has gained ground among popular social networks and was recently ranked #2 social network in terms of number of active users. They passed Twitter’s 288M actives and are catching up to Facebook’s 643M actives. With 343 million active users, perhaps the search engine has built a real social network that people can use and actually love.
What qualities do we look for in social networks? If I was going to take a look at a successful one, I would look at Facebook. I think we can all agree that they’ve nailed the social experience and are the communications platform of choice that serves about a billion people easily. Here are current features that Facebook offers, by comparison:
- Status updates
- Photo sharing
- Video recording
- Privacy controls
- Contact lists
- Link discovery
- Relationship updates
- Business pages
- Games and applications
- Discussion forums
- Event planning
- Following people and brands of interest
- Adding people as friends
That sums up Facebook’s features, no? If I were to summarize Facebook into a benefit statement, here’s what it might be:
“People use Facebook so they can establish their identity, connect with people and share activities they care about.”
When looking at Google Plus, it offers many competitive features that rival that of Facebook, so let’s take a look at those feature that are of special interest to small businesses and entrepreneurs:
Circles are specific contact groups because friends, family and co-workers all have different meanings to you. Circles are used throughout Google’s products including Gmail, Reader and their smartphone platform, Android.
Pages are similar to personal profiles, but are intended for businesses and brands. Like People, Pages can target marketing messages to the right audience through published updates, links, videos and events. In addition, Pages offers powerful privacy controls so they can deliver the right message to their audience at the right time. Pages on Google Plus have taken the place of Google Local and Google Places properties and Pages allow multiple people to manage it.
Planning events for fun or profit is easy with Google Plus. People can RSVP as well as comment and share updates and photos with regard to events. Likewise, you can also adjust the privacy so only the people you want may see events. I’ve seen them well-executed for webinars and live video chats. However, be warned, you may want to configure your Privacy settings so you don’t get unwanted invites from your Circles. Google Plus tends to send email frequently, but it offers easy controls so you get notified of the activities that matter.
LIVE VIDEO CHATS
“F-it, we’ll do it live!” exclaimed Bill O’Reilly on the set of Inside Edition. Google lets you do the same thing through its Hangout feature so you can create live video chats with your friends (with recording abilities). Hangouts are perfect to conduct live educational events, connect with friends or simply offer gratitude to customers who support you.
Google Communities is valuable to those who wish to discuss an interest shared by others. While primitive right now, they allow people to get their daily dose of content and community interaction all in one place.
These are only a few of the reasons why a small business owner or entrepreneur would use Google Plus; it has become a viable business solution for communicating with customers and prospects. I recommend that you initially get comfortable with how Google Plus works for personal use before venturing into Pages. Google is bullish on this platform, and similar to YouTube, they are making many enhancements to improve their user experience. The more you use it, the more you appreciate why Google Plus is a great social network for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
It’s okay that not everyone is on Google Plus. While the social network is still relatively young, you can shape its future by being interactive to contribute to its overall value, instead of simply leeching off it for search engine benefit. More people are getting on it every day and it is becoming adopted as a great alternative to Facebook.
At one point, Facebook was foreign and we didn’t have all our friends there, either. Don’t let the fact that it isn’t as popular as Facebook obstruct you from seeing the value that Google Plus can provide you and your business.
Did you like this post? You can Circle me on Google Plus, too. Let me know your thoughts in the comments box below!
I have to tip my friend Evo Terra for his persistent use of Google Plus. Without his insights and actions, you wouldn’t be reading this post from me.
Learn a sound social strategy from the experts at Infusionsoft by downloading their latest e-book, “From So-So to Social.”
This post Google Plus is the Best Social Network You’re Not Using was first published on the Big Ideas Blog.