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Google+, sometimes abbreviated as Google Plus or G+, is a social network developed and maintained by the tech giant Google. The network was released in beta to the public 9 months ago, by the end of June 2011. The full release came in September. While the network was supposed to be a strong opponent for Facebook, it was never even close to it. The fact that many people use it today is entirely based on curiosity and mostly on Google’s name and powerful brand and not because it brings something new to the business. Or is it…?
Google estimates the social network will have around 400 million users by the end of this year, while Facebook approaches a billion. Twitter only has around 100 million users while LinkedIn with 30 million users more than the micro-blogging platform.
But while Google’s last addition to its huge portfolio doesn’t bring many new things to the table, it is a powerful tool and it is arrogant to ignore it as it incorporates great features. Actually, after closely studying and researching behaviors there, it seems Google+ can actually be an influence on your business and bring you more clients than initially expected. This might be because of the more professional look and feel G+ has in comparison with Facebook, or just because some features are better developed. While G+ will probably never reach Facebook’s success, the truth is that it doesn’t even need to – quite frankly, their niches are different.
1. Communicating with targeted potential customers
Google+ incorporates a service called ‘circles’ which allows users to define the feeds displayed on their home screen and who can see them. Privacy settings also allow users to hide the list of members in their Circles. Everything is done quick through a drag-and-drop interface. Specific content can be sent out to targeted groups or individuals instead of everybody in your network. This means that the content you deliver will only reach the people you want to.
Image by Magnet 4 Marketing dot Net.
G+ Circles mostly replaces the typical “Friends” list you have on Facebook and allows you to define your own groups. The default Circles are Friends, Family, Acquaintances and Following. A definition of the “Following” circle would be “People who don’t know you personally, but whose posts you find interesting“, according to Google. Quite like Twitter I would say.
This function makes the platform valuable because it allows everybody interested in your services, posts or updates to follow you and stay in touch.
2. Easily reaching prospects
If you have a company, then you are also in need of clients. They are the ones bringing in the profit and allowing us to continue. If something is crucial, then reaching out to them is it. Moreover, the need to communicate with prospects and potential clients is very important, as it might as well be the difference between landing a huge project or failing miserably at maintaining your company on the lifeline.
The platform allows G+ users to connect with these people and more others, including influencers and people in their respective industry. This happens first because of what described above – everybody can follow everybody’s updates without needing a friend request to be accepted. This element is quite similar to the one on Twitter, where you can follow everybody you are interested with and interact with their content. You might ask yourself why use G+ when there is Twitter. Well, firstly, G+ does much more than just allowing you to follow people. And secondly, the user’s database is to be four times bigger on G+ than on Twitter by the end of this year, according to estimates.
Image by CubaGallery.
G+ also allows you to share information with only the right people, instead of sharing it with everybody who follows you. This is something Twitter does not allow you to.
Finding people on Google+ is also really easy thanks to the powerful search function. But more about this later.
3. The professional environment
Maybe the main difference between G+ and its bitter rival Facebook is the professional and business-like environment. Although possible for them to register, 15-year-old high-school drama queens simply don’t find G+ interesting. The same with Justin Bieber male fans from all over the world. Google Plus is clearly for people interested in doing business. In this matter it is quite similar to Twitter and LinkedIn. It just attracts the right crowd.
Basically this means on G+ you will in most cases find only people whom you have something in common with, have a company, are part of the same industry or share the same interests. And this will only get better with more and more people registering and being active on their G+ accounts.
4. +1 and the search function
Google added a +1 button few months after the beta release of the service and this only improves the experience. A +1 is similar to the “Like” on Facebook. But while the “Like” doesn’t mean much more than an ego-booster, a +1 helps the user much more beyond personal fulfillment. The more +1 an update gets, the higher the chance to be found through a Google search will be. And with Google still being the most powerful search engine in the world (and will remain like that for many years to come), this is a strong feature nobody else can offer. Linking the two services was probably the smartest move of Google+.
Image by west.m.
Users can get a lot of exposure thanks to the +1 buttons, which are available in everything that can be shared on the platform, including images. And while the feature is already incredible, bear in mind that Google Plus is still in its early development phase and improvements are likely to come.
5. The showcase features
Although Facebook allows you to do this as well, the capability of turning your G+ profile into a showcase portfolio is really well developed. Google Plus not only allows you to make it a visual portfolio, but also to make it in a written format like a classic CV. Again, some similarities can be drawn with another service – LinkedIn. You can say G+ gets the better out of two worlds.
Not only the pictures can be used in order to create a visual impact, but the “About” section is much more complex than on other platforms. It contains a big range of materials, links and details about where you’ve lived and how can you be contacted.
6. Google+ Hangouts
A strong feature Facebook and the other social networking platforms lack is the video chatting capabilities. Well, just for your information, even the US President used G+ Hangouts for a press conference several months ago. This allows you to communicate with up to 10 people on your network instead of asking them to call you or contact you on Skype or other service. You have everything under the same roof and gives Google a strong advantage over its competitors.
Google Plus has always been an underdog to Facebook and, in the beginning, even to Twitter and LinkedIn. But it seems people found the good in it and start using their accounts much more often. And while individuals still try to get a grip of it, companies and freelancers already use it to its full potential and land clients and projects through it.
Until next time, what is your experience with G+? Why it is exactly you use Google+ instead of letting go of it like many others do? Have you ever landed a gig on Google Plus?