There is so much hype around Google+ (Google Plus) right now that many people worry about getting left behind on this new social network. So far, Google+ is still limiting signups to the network and has indicated they will launch a special business-type of page for Google+. For now, here’s some quick information about Google+ to get you started with some possibilities for using your Google+ profile for your business.
Google launched their Google+ network to compete with the likes of Facebook. Capitalizing on their dominant search position, Google signed up over ten million (10,000,000) users within its first two weeks. So, if you’re in the business of marketing products, services, and brands on the Internet then you should be paying attention.
Let’s look at the current stats:
- 750 million Facebook users
- 200 million Twitter users
- 100 million LinkedIn users
- 10 million Google+ users
For business owners and marketers there are features on Google+ that may in fact work for business, even though they were designed for personal use. Many are still questioning what benefits Google+ may have over other social media sites. If you are wondering what you need to know to make sure the time investment is worth it to your business, here are some things you should know about the program before signing up.
Here’s what you see when you first login:
First, Google+ lets profile users create circles of friends. This is quite different than any other social media site, and is one of the features users seem to like the most. You can set up a circle and then share specific information with only the people in that circle. For now, the benefits of using Circles is to help segment out content on your homepage stream. Your circles are not public so your contacts will not see which group they are in, only that they are part of your network. If you’re looking to use Google+ for prospecting this could help you segment out your list so you can quickly see what your prospects are posting and then comment, share, or contact them about the post.
As your network grows and more users are paying attention to Google+ on a daily basis, you can share specific offers and discounts with select Circles. This type of targeting will have obvious benefits if they are part of the Google+ business page.
The Sparks feature is interesting because it simulates Google Reader in that you can target content streams from the Internet using keywords (I’m loving this feature). Sparks lets you select things you are interested in and then list them in the left column of your profile for easy access. The great thing about this feature is that it gives you the ability to target the type of content you want to see everyday and share with your network. Unlike Facebook, you don’t have to find articles from outside of the Facebook system. Google lets you auto-stream the content right in your Google+ profile for easy access and sharing.
For business owners and marketers, this will allow you to get automatic access to any targeted keyword (see below). If you’re working for Proctor & Gamble, you can add your keyword to your stream and see all of the posts that mention Proctor & Gamble. As noted before, this type feed reader will eventually replace Google Reader if all goes well.
Hangouts allows you to talk with friends or associates. The feature is like a chat program, that lets up to ten people video chat at the same time (think Group Skype Video Chat). If you have followers that are interested in hearing more about a product or service you offer, this can be a fun way to tell them about it in a group setting, allowing a bunch of people to hear from you at once. I haven’t used this feature yet but the potential for using this as a business presentation system is great.
The Photos feature is a more creative way to display and browse through your networks photo updates. Seems a little cluttered with profile pics for now but that will eventually change.
Google+ Profile Page
The Profile page is pretty basic and very similar to a Facebook setup. You can opt to have people contact you via email through a small button under your profile pic. People can also view your +1′s (posts you have indicated are of value to you by clicking the +1 icon next to a post).
If you are a business owner or marketer who has experienced the value of using social media in your business then you definitely need to get your Google+ profile and start updating. If you are still reading this trying to figure out what social media is then you might want to read my past post Social Media for the Non-Believer: 5 Tips for Getting Started so you can take some baby steps.
All in all Google+ is fun and exciting now and seems to hold a lot of promise for using the platform to engage your prospect and customer base. It’s important to remember to not try to quantify your ROI to quickly or spend hours a day sitting on your profile page trying to figure out how to make money with your Google+ profile. Social media is a long term investment and one that your customers expect you to make.
For now, Google+ is still limiting signups (at least at the time of this post) so if you haven’t yet signed up you can get on the waiting list now.
If you’re using Google+, head over to http://gplus.to to get your custom Google+ profile url.
See how fancy mine looks > http://gplus.to/kriskiler
If I missed anything, please comment below. This wasn’t intended to be a complete guide, just a summary of my experience so far.