To start this post off the right way, I think a happy belated birthday is in order to the nerdiest, most technology-savvy one-year old I know, Google+. Cheers!
While being ridiculed and labeled by many after its one-year mark as a “ghost town,” it’s hard to deny that Google+ has made some powerful friends in the process. And I’m not talking about Google and all of its online glory. No. I’m talking about the loyal power users that are driving this young platform and laying the groundwork for a growing niche online community. This crowd is tough, and they aren’t leaving anytime soon.
I’m talking about the incredible photographers…
I’m talking about the informative tech writers…
I’m talking about the inspiring business leaders...
And the many others who are giving it their all to defend and display their thoughts, feelings, and opinions for the Google+ community they know and love.
While it may be true that it’s currently Facebook’s world and we’re just living in it, Google+ continues to remain relevant… just not as a competitor.
That’s where many naysayers and non-believers are wrong. Google+ is not a Facebook, nor a Twitter, nor a LinkedIn—it’s its own niche platform that is driven by interests rather than connecting and keeping up with family and friends (Facebook), acquiring information (Twitter), or networking with other professionals (LinkedIn).
These interest-centered communities and motives are the hallmark of Google+. They remain the foundation to an increasingly attractive opportunity for businesses looking to spread awareness, grow thought leadership, and further build an online presence across social media.
In fact, in a display of excellent timing, Google recently released a splash of new updates to Google+ that have many loyal users and businesses nodding in approval.
Here are my five favorite features of Google+, and why they matter to businesses:
Google+’s introduction of Circles when it launched last year was the key differentiating factor it boasted to Facebook users. Instead of blasting content to all of a company or user’s followers and friends, Circles allow the ability to privately share and view content to and from customized groups of people.
The ability to broadcast content to a specific group of people may help businesses to better target their messaging. As this is done manually, your circles can be segmented anyway you want—by location, interests, age, etc.
Hangouts On Air
The most recent addition to the G+ bag of tricks, the Hangouts On Air feature is essentially a live group video chat with your customers.
It’s a phenomenal way to engage with customers and fans because it allows you to broadcast a group chat video stream to anyone in the world from Google+, YouTube, or even your website with the proper embedding, and discuss anything you deem appropriate with them. This could be customer tutorials, market research, product demos and even product launches.
Integration Into Google Products
Ok fine, while this may not be a “feature,” this is still one of the most important factors when analyzing this platform’s strength. It was Richard MacManus, in his post on ReadWriteWeb, whom I first saw bring up a great point about Google+: it has the ability to unite all of Google’s massively used and effective products together.
Google+ is tying all of Google’s other services together and producing very rich, very relevant information in search, calendar, Google Now, etc. Participating in Google+ actually provides a technological benefit besides what you already get from participating in social networking… and this has big implications for businesses.
Whether it’s showing up in Google’s social search or your Google+ video being featured on YouTube, allowing the platform to share your content across Google is incredibly valuable to your marketing efforts.
According to Jennifer Van Grove in a recent VentureBeat article, “Google Plus is better than Facebook—at mobile.”
In fact, she had quite the rousing review:
“This is how a current social network should look on a touch-screen device. So beautiful, so alive with color, so fluid, and so dynamic in its visual delivery of stories is Google+ in tablet form, that the app makes Facebook’s mobile applications look as if they were built in the MySpace era.”
Love it. Especially the quick jab at MySpace. Those always give me a nice chuckle.
Google+ having a strong mobile experience for its users is no small factor. It’s something that Facebook cannot yet claim, and it’s something that bodes very, very well for a world that is going more mobile at a rapid pace.
With mobile Internet predicted to take over desktop usage by 2014 (article here), being able to effectively reach your customers on their mobile devices and engage with them will be a key component to successful marketing campaigns in the near future.
Photos look amazing on Google+. This is because the layout is crisp, eye pleasing, and effective…
…and the platform’s editing software lets users and companies decorate and add effects to any uploaded photos. The editing suite was actually converted from what used to be Picnik, a popular photo app with a buffet of filters and effects.
Google+ is still young, and still very much in its infancy. There’s certainly no guarantee Google+ will be around in three years, two years, or even one year… but at the same time, one certainly can’t make any claim that it’s dead. While small, Google+ is still very much alive thanks to its powerful niche online communities. And this is something you and your business needs to realize, especially if you’re a company looking to reach an audience who loves technology, photography, art, and gaming. In which case, I absolutely recommend formulating a strategy to grow your Google+ page. It may payoff big time as the Google+ environment is still very much untapped.
To help get you started, here are five quick tips to grow your Google+ page, in our latest Tip Sheet.
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