Over the past few weeks the blogosphere has been buzzing with predictions on the impact of Google+ in the business world, adding to the growing focus on the benefits of social media for business. Currently, most businesses use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as tools to promote their brands and many are now asking whether Google+ will become the next big player in the world of social media marketing. It’s kind of overwhelming to think about adding yet another social media tool to one’s marketing arsenal when we’re still discovering how to use the ones we already have. And yes, it may be too early to start casting Justin Timberlake for a Google+ movie, but I think it’s a safe bet that—sooner or later—this platform is going to be BIG. The days where people say “Facebook me” may be coming to an end sooner than you may think, to be replaced by people asking you to join their “circle.”
For the rock-dwellers this last month, Google+ is the newest social network on the scene. Introduced by Google in late June, it combines the ideas of Twitter, Facebook and Skype into one jumbo social media sandwich. Already, Google+ has reported 25 million users during the last month. Of course, this number is small in comparison to the hundreds of millions of users on Facebook or Twitter, but the trend is significant. So what exactly is making Google+ gain traction so quickly? There have been plenty of other social networks (including platforms launched by Google, remember Google Buzz or Google Wave? No? me either) that haven’t even come close to attracting as many users as Google+. Intrigued and curious to see what this fuss was all about, I searched around and asked a co-worker to send me an invite to their Google+ circle.
And guess what? It turns out that Google+ seems to live up to its hype. Not only does it remind me of the social platforms I already use, but it has removed the kinks that I couldn’t stand and made the platform simpler, better and overall, more fun. For example, Facebook is known for having mega problems within their privacy system. I find their privacy control settings confusing and almost impossible to understand, consequently I am not sure what information I am sharing with the public. Google+ on the other hand, had privacy and filter settings that I found relatively easy to use. I enjoyed being able to see what a person sees when each one clicked on my profile. I could also reduce the chance of a person seeing an embarrassing picture of me (note to my employer: there are no embarrassing pictures of me on the internet …) by restricting what information could be shared within specific circles.
Another major problem I have had with Facebook is the overwhelming amount of noise on the site. Like most people, I am not interested in half the information other users are sharing with me. Google+ allowed me to filter information I read, received and shared. In many ways, it’s similar to the way FirstRain helps its users. FirstRain filters out the junk in the consumer Web for busy professionals the same way Google+ gets rid of the noise of social media. As a result, I didn’t feel as if I was wasting my time scrolling through unnecessary information such as what people ate for breakfast. Potentially, Google+ will enable me to establish a circle solely for business acquaintances and share information that only relates to my company.
There are other appealing features as well, such as their ability to microblog more than either the 140-character Twitter limit or the 400-character Facebook limit. Plus, by combining Google+ with Gmail & YouTube, you get an enormous social media powerhouse, allowing business professionals to access all aspects of social media at once, without having to change websites and without having to rely on multiple platforms.
Although, ultimately, the jury is still out on success and Google+ and what it means for Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, my advice to businesses is that it’s a good time now to become familiar with the Google+ interface and begin thinking about integrating Google+ into future marketing strategies. Business pages are currently prohibited from the site, because according to Google, they want to wait until they can implement it right. And since it’s likely to be a few months before they’re ready, business marketers like us have been given the gift of time to formulate a Google+ game plan … and hopefully one that lives up to the all the excitement.