Google Plus is a ghost town. Google Plus is for computer nerds or photographers. Google Plus is like a lame version of Facebook. No one reads anything on Google Plus. No one in my audience cares about Google Plus.
At some point you’re going to need to pay attention to that social network gnat that’s buzzing at your ear, and for very good reasons.
Google+ Isn’t Going Away
Detractors, mockers, super-users, ardent supporters, rabid fans and haters — people have all kinds of opinions on Google +. Google+ has annoyed many of us because, so far, they’ve restricted most access to social media dashboard tools when it comes to publishing to their network. This means you have yet another network to babysit and you can’t even do it from a tool where you’re managing Twitter and Facebook.
Perhaps it’s genius, forcing us to visit the actual site instead of just publishing to it, or perhaps it’s madness, causing people to ignore and not bother with it because of the hassle of yet another proprietary network. Whatever your feelings about the network, here are the truths:
- It isn’t going to disappear. It isn’t another project like Buzz or Wave.
- It doesn’t matter if it has as many users as Facebook. That wasn’t necessarily the point.
- It is part of the larger Google plan for how they will monetize their search and “wall in” or connect all of their properties.
So even if all of your brand’s activity happens over on Facebook, and all of your fans are there because you’ve invested in them and the network a lot longer, and Facebook has been around and you’re comfortable and familiar with it — too bad. You have to get going on Google+. It’s here to stay. You might as well get started now rather than show up late to the game.
Google+ Isn’t Supposed To Be A Facebook Alternative
Let’s not look at Google+ as a Facebook alternative, but as a social product of a search-and-services giant (Google) that has a much larger plan for its empire than just search as we knew it.
It’s Social Search
Facebook says they have 1 billion users each month. Google says they have 100 billion searches each month. Most Google+ detractors point out the much lower number of active Google+ users as compared to Facebook, and rightly so. That would be a very moving argument if Google had intended G+ to just be another social network for cat photos and political comments.
But it isn’t. It’s that 100 billion searches that should have your attention.
Because of Search, plus your world, you want to be active on Google+, adding people to your circles and getting people to add you to their circles. Search, plus your world came out in January 2012, and is the “default” option when people search when they’re logged into their Google account. Many people probably aren’t aware that their search results are being affected by their activity on Google+ and don’t turn the personal results off in favor of a “typical” search that has no social influences.
What if we stopped seeing Google+ as that lame Facebook wannabe, and instead started to see it as Google might see it: integral to their search empire? Suddenly that Facebook vs. Google+ comparison isn’t quite as convincing. Facebook is where the people are when they want to be social, but Google search is where the people really are when they are looking for something specific and want an outcome (information, something to buy, help). Your activity on Google+ is going to help you get higher in their search results.
- Visibility in search results. A photo of you next to your content. People click on images.
- Proof that you’re you. People don’t want spam. They want real content by real people. Authorship helps.
- Analytics for your content. Use Google Webmaster Tools to see how your content is faring.
Guess what you need in order to claim authorship? A Google+ profile. Guess what you’ll need if you want to improve your Author Rank? You’ll need to have claimed authorship.
As an author, pursue content creation that will get +1′s. Get involved in the conversation and discussion on Google+. Show Google you have content, you have good content, and you’re active. If you build all your reputation and expertise in the Facebook world, you’re relinquishing important search benefits.
Google+ Has Some Cool Stuff
Google+ has lots of cool stuff. Fun for the individual, sure, but also very powerful for businesses and brands:
- Hangouts: Not the same as hangovers, Hangouts are perfect for teaching, talking, sharing, meeting, and all things involved in growing your circles. In an age of video and “talk to me talk to me”, hangouts make it easy to have video conferencing, live events and broadcasts, and live chat. Bonus? People can take part on their mobile device.
- Communities: Whether public, private, or somewhere in between, Google+ Communities are the new online group. With a decent set of privacy and filtering controls, you can create focused discussion easily.
- Posts: Seems a bit odd to consider the basic “post” anything special, but maybe you’ll start to consider it as microblogging instead of just posting as you realize that your public Google+ posts actually show up in Google searches… What you write on the Google+ network can carry some search weight.
- Events: Most social networks have events, but most social networks aren’t easily integrating those events into Google Calendar. Google+ has set up a beautiful system that’s easy to use and perfect for making the most of your awesome event.
- Powerful internal search: This is Google, after all. It’s easy to find content on Google+, particularly if you refine your search using the dropdown menu from the search bar. There are the usual tags, trending topics, and other ways to search that people are already familiar with in other networks.
- Shared circles: If you’ve created a great circle of relevant contacts, you can share the entire circle on your Google+ profile. It makes networking easy.
Still think Google+ isn’t important? Maybe you need to spend some time on the network, get familiar, and start the work of building there just as you did on Twitter, Facebook, and all the other social networks you’ve given fair time. It will pay off in the long run.