Recently, in typical, understated Google fashion, Google opened Google+ to all (that already have a Google Profile Page). Visitors to Google’s homepage were treated to the blue arrow directing them to the Google+ signup page by stating “You’re invited to join” and the note “Thanks for waiting. Google+ is open to all.
I’m not sure folks were clamoring to join Google+, based on the lukewarm reception my invitations received, but there it is. So, what does this open invitation really mean?
According to Marketing Pilgrim:
And, if the surest sign you’ve made the big time is being made fun of, Mashable and College Humor took this opportunity to ask, “Do we really need ANOTHER social network?”, creating a parody inviting people to join Not Google+ by not joining Google+ and not inviting their friends to join Google+.
So, Why SHOULD you join Google
Even though business pages aren’t available yet, businesses should create a page using an employee just as Mashable uses Google+ through Pete Cashmore. Customers (and prospects) are also missing from Google+ right now, but are likely to join now that they don’t require an invitation. Even those reluctant to add yet another social network will likely join Google+ as it grows — especially if Facebook continues to piss users off.
Starting on Google+ now gives businesses a leg up on building relationships and understanding the nuances of using Google+ before customers join.
5 Major Advantages of Google for Business
Chris Brogan, quoted in Entrepreneur, provides an excellent reason why businesses should use Google+: Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is a major advantage over Facebook, where conversations are invisible to Google. And Google added a better search tool to Google+ that helps users connect with others.
There’s also speculation about the SEO value of the +1 option in Google+. It certainly doesn’t hurt and, if nothing else, these +1′s show up with your listing in search and provide social proof for your website.
Another major value of Google+ is its integration with other Google properties, such as Google Places, Google Maps, Flickr, Google Earth, GMail …. Integration makes it easier for businesses to combine these tools in posts especially seamless integration of video and images.
Flexibility and Usability
Hangouts are great and improving all the time. I just did one with my class yesterday where we had Mike Stelzner as a guest lecturer. It worked great.
Sharing is easy. You can share with everyone or just share with certain circles or individuals. Sharing retains the original poster’s information, helping you build your social network. And folks interact on Google+ in a way they don’t on Facebook or Twitter.
Posts don’t get clumped together like on Facebook where you get the link to view 10 other posts using this app or 10 more pictures posted by the user. This aspect of Facebook makes it harder for users to see your content.
Unlimited content. Well, maybe there is a limit, but it’s much greater than provided in Facebook where status updates are limited to 420 characters. Some users even post blog length entries on Google+. And Google automatically collapses these long posts so they don’t fill your stream and interested readers can expand the post to read more.
Facebook is constantly changing without regard for the user experience and recent changes in the way it displays what it thinks you want to read first means it’s harder for your business to show up on your Fans’ walls. Businesses are loosing a significant voice on Facebook.
In contrast, Google has made many changes in the 3 months since it launched in private beta (wow, it seems like it’s been longer). These changes fix problems identified by users. In fact, I’m part of a volunteer group of users participating in a forum with Google to improve.
Google API Released
Google released the Google+ API a few days ago and already we’re starting to see great 3rd party apps developed to enhance the user experience and get the most from Google+. More apps are coming all the time.