You’ve spent countless hours updating your profile, finding people to connect with, uploading pictures and videos, sharing links and information, and taking the human element of networking to the web. You’ve familiarized yourself with the different platforms, learned the terminology, developed marketing strategies… and just as you think you’re getting the hang of this social networking thing, Google creates Google+, a new social network aimed at changing the playing field. Now you’re probably thinking, “Great, just what I need—another social network. I already have Facebook for personal use, Twitter for sharing all of my content, and LinkedIn to network with business people. Do I really need ANOTHER social network?!”
First off, What is Google+?
According to the Google+ overview, the main purpose of Google+ is “to make connecting with people on the web more like connecting with them in the real world.” Still in beta testing, some are saying Google+ aims to take down the other major social networks such as Facebook and Twitter by providing a simpler way to share content only with those you want to share it with.
How Could Google+ Take Down Facebook?
How could Google+ take down a network that’s 600 million strong (Facebook)? The simple answer would be that they could do so by addressing the privacy concerns that all social networking users have. As the online world becomes more and more transparent, users are changing their names, hiding their photos, and even deleting their profiles in order to avoid having certain content seen by the wrong people. If you’ve ever applied for a job or gotten a friend request from a parent or another employee, then I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. (And if not, here are ten people who lost jobs over social media mistakes.).
Why You Should Consider Joining Google+
Google+ launched June 28th and even though it’s currently in beta testing and only open to people with invitations, membership has skyrocketed to an estimated 4.7 million users, hinting that this social network could be the next big thing. Numbers aside, Google+ is a great way to do all of the following:
- Receive information from friends and acquaintances. This is done by adding people to your circles and following their streams of content or by adding your interests into Sparks. It’s similar to following people on Twitter, except that people can share much more content by not having character restrictions.
- Control the information you share. By using Circles, Google+ makes it easy to control the information (posts, pictures, videos, etc.) you share only with those you want to share it with.
- Easily communicate with people. Google+ integrates the Google Chat feature that many people use in their office, allowing for people to easily communicate through the social network. You can also join hangouts, which allow you to video conference with up to ten people at once.
Google + and the future…
There are many other great reasons to join, but I believe that the main reason you should do so is to invest in the future. Here’s where I see Google+ headed:
Search: Google released the +1 button a few months back, and we understood that it was supposed to change the algorithms of search by providing social recommendations from your peers. However, before Google+, I didn’t see much value in this product. With the addition of Google+ I see this changing, because all posts that are shared through it have the ability to be indexed into Google search, and so over time I see the +1 button greatly influencing page rank—which will change the world of SEO forever.
Advertising: Up until recently, Google had minimal data that marketers could target online. It could pull demographic data and browsing history, but it lacked psychographic data about consumers’ interests and affinities. With the addition of Google+, I believe Google will capitalize on this platform to expand its psychographic profiling by use of Sparks (users interests) and profile information.
For Businesses: I could see Google integrating its Places product into Google+, which would allow businesses to extend the use of their Places page to a more social format (somewhat like a Facebook Fan Page). As of now, Google has restricted the use of business profiles until further notice. In the meantime, you can still brand yourself as a thought leader by providing relevant information about your field of expertise to your audience. A good example of someone who does this well would be Chris Brogan.
Circles: Circles makes it easy to share different things with different people. You can add the people in your life to specific circles and control what content you share with each of them. For example, you can separate your college friends from your co-workers and your family from your friends, and share different posts, pictures, and links with each of them.
Sparks: With Sparks, you can tell Google+ what you’re interested in and receive new content on that specific topic. If you’re using this for business, you can type in your company name and receive new articles when anyone mentions your brand—sort of like Google alerts, except in one stream of information.
Hangouts: Hangouts enable users to video conference with multiple people at once. You can start a Hangout and invite people in your circles, or just see who’s around.
Photos: What was Picasa is now Google Photos. You can now easily upload albums and share them with the general public or only with specific circles. Let’s say you just went to a family reunion and you don’t want the pictures going out to all of your friends. You can just choose to share that specific album with your family, and no one else will be able to view them.
+1: The plus one button is Google’s equivalent of the Facebook “like” button. When someone posts something that you like, just click the +1 button to show your affinity to that person’s post.
Want to Get on Google+?
Follow me on Twitter and tweet me your Gmail address (or send me a DM with your Gmail address) and I’ll send you an invite.
Once you’re on Google+, Add me to a Circle!
For those of you who are already on Google+, comment and let me know what you think about where this new social network is going.