If you’ve heard about Google’s newest social media platform, Google +, and wonder if it’s worth the hype, let me give you an overview so you can decide for yourself.
What It Is
Google + is a little like Facebook in that you can post updates (with no limit on characters), photos, videos and links. How it differs is that you can better target your contacts through Circles. Essentially, you can group people together (Co-Workers, People I Know Through Social Media) and target your updates to specific groups. You can also create Hangouts, which are video chats with up to 10 participants.
What It Offers Businesses
Just recently, G+ rolled out its Business Pages, which are pretty similar to their counterpart on Facebook. You can interact with the people in your Circles as your business, which can be good for branding. But as far as I can tell, there’s no extraordinary benefit of G+’s Business Pages over Facebook’s.
What’s Happening Right Now
Understandably, as a new platform, it’s a bit quiet on G+ right now. It’s only got just over 25 million users, to Facebook’s 800 million, so understandably there’s not as much activity there…yet. It can be frustrating if you’re trying to embrace the platform, but there’s no one really saying much or listening to your updates.
Is It Worth Your Time?
I’ve been on both sides of this answer. At first I said G+ was a waste of time. Who needs yet another social media site to have to post to? But I realize I might change my tune. I check in about once a week (whereas I am on Facebook daily) and try to update my status and read other updates. If adoption picks up speed, there may be more value for business owners to dedicate more time on the site.
One big benefit to having your business present on G+, if only nominally, is that Google (naturally) seems to rate G+ pages higher in search results. Google says that if you follow its instructions to set up your company through its Direct Connect program, anyone who searches for “+” and your company name on Google (as listed on your G+ Page), they’ll be taken directly to your G+ Business Page. Unfortunately, I can’t get this feature to work for my business. And having them go there versus my company website? I’m not sure there’s much benefit for me.
My suggestion is to set up a G+ account and spend a week or two playing around with it. Feel free to add me to your Circles. Set up a Page for your business. See which of your contacts and customers are actually using Google +. Then you can decide if it’s worth the time investment to have a strong presence on the site.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written two books: 101 Entrepreneur TipsandInternet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as Mashable, Small Business Trends, FutureSimple, BizLaunch and Lead411. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.