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Google Plus – Just another social media site?

G Plus Icon     Google Plus Icon

When Google+ was released for testing 3 months ago, there was a bit of a Buzz (excuse the pun) And Google implemented the initial testing with it’s usual style of limited invitations.

Personally, I think limiting the initial stage makes sound business sense as it means they can test it properly on a larger group of people without the risks of there being lots of problems… because, come on, we all hate it when software doesn’t work! They have been slated a little, but it’s a good system.

Yesterday Google+ was released to the general public and I think there was an inward groan from most business owners as they realised there’s now yet another social media site to keep track of.

So why on earth would you spend your precious time learning to use Google+ ?

It even looks like Facebook!

Google plus really does look a lot like Facebook. It’s like how you imagine Facebook would look if it allowed people to use their system but rebrand it as their own. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Facebook after all has 750 million active users. It also means that if you’re using Facebook, then you’re likely to find Google+ pretty easy to use.

Google Plus Screen Shot

No business profiles

For the moment, no business profiles are allowed on Google+. You could of course do the same thing that some Facebook users do – which is to create a personal profile with your business name on it. However, Google have asked people not to and, at this early stage, you’re probably best playing it safe and waiting for the inevitable release of their version of Business Pages.

Closed network

At the moment, the etiquette is that you only invite people you know into your ‘Google Circle’. As with Facebook, there will probably be some spammers etc, and there will be times when you connect with people who you haven’t met but have a common interest with… but, unlike Twitter which is an open network and therefore great for connecting with people you’ve never met before, Google is also an ‘Invite & Accept’ system. Therefore more useful for staying in touch with people who you already know.

Where is everyone?

Another downside at the moment is that there’s no one there! The percentage of your customers and friends who are signed up are going to be few and far between. However…

The early bird

What we learnt from Twitter is that the sooner you jump on board the easier it will be for you to create all those vital connections and to stay ahead of the trends. Also, Plus is new for most people which means you’re more likely to be found and connected with as business owner and it’s good to get involved at the start while the novelty is still there.

Advantage of Plus

Google Plus One Icon

Here’s the real reason you want to get on Plus… remember how the +1 symbol started turning up everywhere on sites and Google searches? Well now that you and your customers are on Google Plus, those +1’s will show up on their profiles. They will also help you attract more visitors. And – the implied advantage is that this will increase your optimisation on Google!

Lone Wolf

The challenge is that Google+ is out on it’s own at the moment. Big social media management apps like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck don’t (at the time of writing this) support Google Plus, though I’m sure that will change over the coming weeks. Also the official Google Plus mobile app doesn’t work on some phones like the HTC Desire. However the mobile Google Plus site looks good and works well on most systems.

Expect big things

This is Google Inc. Love them or hate them, they know how to work the internet. There may be a few initial glitches, expect to have to keep up with lots of improvements and changes, and no it may not survive the hype, but it’s worth spending that extra time on it especially if your customers are consumers or techy types.

PS. If you liked this, follow me on Google Plus