About a week ago I received an invite to Google’s latest and greatest attempt at going social, Google+. Of course I signed up, if for no other reason than to evaluate what it was and what it could be for myself. I like to evaluate things for myself whenever possible instead of reading all of the reviews.

As I wondered through Streams, Circles, Sparks, Chats, and Posts, it got me thinking about social media on a much larger scale. For marketers and businesses, social media means something vastly different than it does for everyone else in the world (the users). But still, we’re users too, just a different kind of user. A user that wants something from all of the other users.

Those of us that are good at what we do will look past the obvious promotional opportunities (someone hands you a megaphone and you yell about the same offer you’ve been whispering about for years) and find new ways of doing things. Those of us that are willing to experiment with time and money to discover channels of communication with consumers that didn’t exist before will reap benefits.

But, for so many businesses, social media is just another thing to worry about. Here’s something most people won’t tell you: you don’t have to be involved in social media. As a company, as a marketer, it’s okay to say “that’s not for me”.

Twitter and Facebook are mainstream. To me, that’s a different story. A presence there is now a good thing even if you don’t capitalize on it. But give yourself time to look around, to explore, and to let other companies make mistakes before you feel the need to be “social” just to be “social”. It will save you time, money, and resources that you can spend growing or running your business in other ways.

And even though this post was never meant to be a review of Google+, I would feel like I short changed you if I didn’t at least weigh in. In my opinion, it’s too similar to Facebook to cause anyone to choose one over the other, and Facebook came first. I understand why Google would try it, and I think there are some opportunities there (music!), but you need to give people a reason to accept a Facebook replacement in order to win here long term.